Updated: Apr 29
Imagine for a minute that you wrote a story that involved your business. In this tale, who plays the role of the main character?
Is your first thought that it would be yourself, the business owner? Or perhaps your service or offering?
Let me propose an idea that might surprise you. The main character in this story is your favorite client - the individual that best represents the type of person who would benefit the most from what you offer.
How does this make you feel?
This here reveals one of the most important “secrets” of marketing: that it’s not really about you, it’s about your customer and their story. I had learned this concept before throughout my previous marketing jobs, particularly when a past employer provided training to the marketing team through Corporate Visions, but it was Ashlyn Carter who so clearly laid it out this way: It’s not about you.
This story about your business is actually a story about a person trying to achieve something. It could be grand or it could be small, but the point is that they are on a journey, going from Point A to Point B. You simply come alongside this character and help them along their journey.
Now, this idealized, fictional character in the story of your business is your “persona”. Have you heard the term “persona” or “avatar” before but were perhaps unsure of exactly what it is? Simply put, it is your favorite client, the protagonist in the story of your business.
A persona is a helpful, and dare I say, an essential part of a marketing strategy for your small business. A more official definition of a persona is “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.” (HubSpot). Developing your persona (or personas, depending on your business) gives you a much clearer and deeper picture of the person you are serving through your small business. This clarity guides you into more strategic and meaningful marketing.
People are complicated and busy. They are so much more than just one part of their life. At any given moment, an individual has several thought trains running through their head. Humans must make thousands of decisions every day. We have other humans depending on us. We are dealing with complex emotions and just trying to figure life out.
Realizing that your customer is a whole person, greater than the part that leads them to need your service, will help you do marketing that cuts through the noise and resonates throughout their whole self.
Remembering that they are on a journey to a new destination keeps you focused on helping them get there, not just helping your business grow. And isn’t that the reason you’re in business in the first place?
This article is the first in our series, Marketing Foundations. Be sure to check out the others: