I get my ideas for articles and blog posts by thinking about readers. Yes, you, you’re always in my thoughts. I think about how I can help you solve a problem or make your job (or life) a little bit easier. Or I aim to share something interesting and valuable.
When I begin work on a copywriting project, I also think about the ultimate readers — my client’s customers, prospects or members. I can’t communicate effectively to them unless I first get to know them. If only I had Vulcan mind meld skills, this part of my job would be a lot easier. Instead I rely on consultation with my client and lots of research and reading.
Studying customers is only the beginning, but let’s stop there for a moment. What if you’re on your own without a marketing vice president or a freelance writer, what do you do? Like me, you must completely understand your customers before you can determine how best to communicate with them.
I’ll share with you some of the questions I usually have; perhaps they’ll help you create a list of your own.
First, create a descriptive profile for each type of customer (or member) you serve. Heck, give each one a name too. If your customers are businesses, the profile will include characteristics that a consumer profile wouldn’t, and vice versa. Here are some suggestions to start, but you’ll end up with others specific to your business:
- Employment status
- Marital or family status
- Interests and hobbies
- Purchasing history
- Career stage
- Position in organization
- Role in purchasing process
- Place in conversion process
- Educational background
- Comfort with technology
The most interesting part of customer research comes next – the big meaty questions. Again, these will vary depending on your business. Since I usually work in the business-to-business sector, my questions have that slant.
- What are your customer’s biggest problems at work?
- What keeps her up at night worrying and stressing?
- What does she fear?
- What annoys her? What frustrates her?
- What would make her life and job much easier?
- What does she yearn for?
- Why does she have these problems? Why aren’t these problems solved yet? What are the obstacles to solving them?
- How do prospects like her usually find you?
- What type of questions do your prospects and customers frequently ask your sales, social media and customer service staff?
- What do they search for on your website? What search terms bring them there?
- What hurdles (mental or real) prevent them from taking the next conversion step?
Spend some time where your customers hang out – blogs, forums, Twitter chats, face-to-face meetings, radio shows or podcasts – so you can get a sense of the language they use and their industry’s or profession’s culture.
The whole point of this exercise is to get into your customer’s mind to understand their perspective and needs, so you can connect their desires or worries to a solution you provide.
There are many more questions I must answer before I start writing, but that will be a topic for another post.