Now that you’ve created the main character of your story, it’s time to start mapping out the action!
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Often in marketing, the plot points that a prospect goes through are referred to as the Customer Journey or Buyer Journey. I prefer to call it the Persona Journey.
There’s a significant reason for this distinction. I believe it’s important not to assume this person is going to become your customer and actually buy from you. First of all, avoiding assumptions will help you stay humble, but it will also help you get strategic. When you acknowledge that there are other options out there for your prospect, you’ll be able to build that into your messaging. This means you’ll be proactive about placing your business in the best position to assist.
The Persona Journey Map acts like the storyboard for the story about your business. In film, the storyboard is “a graphic organizer that plans a narrative.” It’s a series of small sketches or illustrations that depict the main plot points happening in the story.
Now, before you get frightened that I’m going to ask you to start drawing, let me reassure you that I won’t! The Persona Journey map for your business isn’t pictures; it’s words. But the words are going to create a visualization of your ideal client and their decision process.
Usually, when business owners and marketers begin drafting these journeys, they begin with their prospect researching and thinking about solutions. They see the person doing Google searches and asking friends for advice. What if that wasn’t the beginning of the journey, but rather the middle of it?
The journey of your ideal clients begins much earlier, in a phase I call Awareness of Need.
Have you ever noticed that sometimes people don’t even realize they have a problem? Perhaps they believe that their situation is just the way it is, or that it’s normal. Or perhaps they recognize it as a problem, but they do not think there are possible solutions. They don’t realize there might be a better way.
Maybe that has even happened to you. What was a problem or challenge that you endured for a while, never seeking a way to resolve it or make it better? Now consider - what was it that made you aware of your need and that it was one you could solve?
This is a critical point for marketers to consider. Sometimes needs become apparent due to specific occurrences. For example, the need for a crib develops when you learn you’re pregnant. Your need for a new car comes up when the engine fails in your current one.
Some needs, however, don’t make themselves so obvious. Consider how often people don’t realize they need glasses because they have never experienced clear eyesight. They don’t know what they’re missing!
For example, a child in 5th grade complains of headaches but doesn’t mention any other symptoms. The doctor starts asking questions about when and where they occur. Suddenly, it starts coming together that the child is straining to see the board at the front of the classroom. Bingo! Problem identified! Now it’s time to start seeking a solution.
When you identify how your persona becomes aware of their need (or goal or challenge), you can start reaching them ahead of when your competition engages. Better yet, if you can be the one to help your persona identify the underlying need, they’ll start developing trust with you. You understood them enough to know their situation. That demonstrates how you’re focused on them and makes you a likely candidate to help them solve their problems.
After the Awareness of Need stage, your persona goes through the next stages, hopefully ending up as a happy, loyal customer with you. Different marketers or agencies divide up these stages differently. I use 5 stages for the whole Persona Journey. Depending on your industry and business, stages might be a different length of time, and some might be more relevant and important than others.
As you start imagining what this person is experiencing in each stage of their journey, you’ll begin to identify the conversations that you need to have. We’ll talk more about those conversations in the next article in the series. I’ll just say that these conversations aren’t necessarily face-to-face or even direct, but it’s how you’ll communicate through your marketing.
If you want to learn more about the stages and get started on this process of developing the Marketing Foundations for your small business, download your free copy of the Persona Worksheet. Once you complete it, you can book a free 30-minute call with me!
This article is the third in our series, Marketing Foundations. Be sure to check out the others: