by Adele Sommers, Ph.D.
How do you create an irresistible personal connection with your audience? One that’s strong enough to grab your prospects by the eyeballs, ears, or fingertips and draw them magnetically into your sphere of influence?
Whether you seek customers, clients, subscribers, project collaborators, students, or affiliates, I offer seven recommendations for identifying your audiences, discovering the most compelling ways to speak to them, and then using the information you gather to create your book, product, service, Web site, or custom solution.
The twist in this process is that you actually reverse the order of what most people might do to develop an offering. Instead of creating it and then doing the marketing work, this sequence involves completing certain marketing exercises first, and then using the results to develop your offering. This article, Part 1 in a series, describes the first three of seven steps you might take:
1. Identify one or more potential audiences
2. Interview your real or imagined prospects
3. Write a mission statement for your offering
4. List the features and benefits of your offering
5. Write hypothetical “testimonials” for your offering
6. Use all of the above to develop the actual offering
7. Invent a compelling title for your offering
Step 1: Identify One or More Potential Audiences
To start off the process, I recommend brainstorming the types of general audiences you already serve, or might want to serve.
A target audience memberDepending on your industry, you could be aiming for people interested in food, health, fitness, finance, cars, sports, child care, hobbies, crafts, gardening, job seeking, library science, marketing, human resources, process improvement, project management, or whatever your situation dictates. The more narrowly you can define your domain, the better.
Many people would stop there, without drilling deeper. Within each domain, however, lies a range of specialized sub-audiences, all of whom might be interested in aspects of what you have to offer. They comprise distinct — and possibly separate — slants or perspectives that your offerings and marketing outreach eventually might address.
For example, in my area of business achievement, sub-audiences include CEOs and business owners, entrepreneurs, independent professionals, supervisors, managers, generalists, specialists, students, academicians, nonprofit groups, and affiliates. One of my primary audiences is small companies with 10-50 people.
Step 2: Interview Your Real or Imagined Prospects
If you have an existing audience base, such as a list of newsletter subscribers, clients, or customers, you can poll them to ask for their “burning questions” or problems related to your topic. You can collect responses using a Web site form or survey service, an e-mail campaign, or during classes or teleseminars. That way, you can build a list of specific issues to address in your upcoming material or solution.
Whether or not you already have an audience base, you can identify one or more fictitious characters who represent your audience, known as personas. These characters embody the typical customers or clients for your product, service, Web site, or custom solution. You might select a few to develop in depth.
To make them as realistic as possible, give your personas names, genders, ages, professional or personal roles, friends and families, hobbies, educational backgrounds, and major challenges. After identifying a few, I like to “interview” them. I let them tell an entire story about their circumstances, career situations, personal concerns, or whatever else “comes up.” I write a detailed story about each person.
A “persona” exampleFor example, my primary persona’s name is Barbara Markey. She’s a multi-talented, 37-year-old software professional with a graphic design and technical communication background. Barbara and her husband Ben go on camping trips, hike regularly with their two dogs, and enjoy gardening and outdoor crafts.
Barbara has earned a stellar reputation at the company where she’s worked for over eleven years as an interface designer and system developer. She’s an independent, creative thinker with a witty sense of humor who dislikes stuffy, aloof, and arrogant people. Although Barbara has had occasional philosophical differences with her colleagues, she’s been able to produce award-winning software packages, which helps keep her motivated.
Although Barbara generally enjoys her job, her greatest challenge is a boss who doesn’t manage his time and projects well. She’s thinking about going back for a management degree so she can advance in the company, but her ultimate goal is to start her own software interface design business.
The persona method is especially useful if your project entails developing offerings for mass consumption — where there is no specific client or customer to please. It can also, however, work extremely well when you’re working with a client, to help pinpoint specific kinds of concerns and options that would not have been readily apparent.
If your goal entails developing an online software tutorial, for example, you might conclude that one typical learner is a teacher with limited exposure to the subject. In contrast, another typical learner might be a software engineer who needs exposure only to certain topics. The solution you design will need to satisfy each persona’s preferred way of using the tutorial, without complicating life for the others. A related idea: You can build case studies around each persona to illustrate your material.
Step 3: Write a Mission Statement for Your Offering
Mission statement on parchment A mission statement for your product, service, or solution defines why it should exist. Different from a business or company mission statement, it focuses on the specific purpose of your offering. My original product mission statement reads something like this:
“To provide a set of potent, easy-to-understand techniques to guide business owners, managers, and independent professionals to boost productivity, enhance customer and client loyalty, and increase bottom line results, in the areas of:
* Running highly effective, compelling meetings
* Removing obstacles to productivity
* Assessing and managing project risks
* Boosting product and service value”
In conclusion, developing your offerings need not occur in a vacuum. By identifying and interviewing your audiences, and then creating a mission statement, you’ve completed three of seven key steps that will be continued in Part 2.
Adele Sommers, Ph.D. is the author of the award-winning “Straight Talk on Boosting Business Performance” success program. She helps people “discover and recover” the profits their businesses may be losing every day through overlooked performance potential. To sign up for more free tips, visit her site at http://LearnShareProsper.com.