Landing a New Account is a Lot Like Landing the Perfect Fish

Before you can fish successfully, you need to decide what type of fish you are after, where they can be found, and what type of bait and fishing method works best to hook them. Similarly, a key to successfully generating high-quality leads is by pinpointing your target markets and buyer personas.

When creating a target list, you typically start with target market profiling and then build out prospects’ names and contact information. Going after the right type of contact with the right messaging will improve efficiency and lead to greater success. You can take steps to ensure that you are catching the right fish (targets) and not wasting valuable time fishing in the wrong pond.

In the May/June 2018 issue of BoxScore, our article, “Best Practice Approach to Accurate Target Market Profiling,” discussed the importance of looking beyond industries and SIC codes when developing your target market profile. In the article, we provided criteria to consider when developing your target market profile. We won’t cover it in detail, but an overview of the criteria included:

  • Defining your markets – These are industries or segments in which you have seen success.
  • Evaluating current customers – Look at emulating your best customers.
  • Defining your financial objectives – Evaluate how many companies and how much spend is necessary to meet your financial objectives.
  • Defining contact titles – Define the decision-makers and influencers for each market.

You won’t fish in a brook if you are trying to catch tuna. Look at your current customer accounts the same way you determine where you fish and whether there are similar places to fish. Evaluate your customer accounts individually, and determine whether you would like more that are exactly like each one. Sometimes a high-spending customer creates challenges that you don’t want to duplicate. That is OK; take them off the list. Look at the companies that are remaining, and determine why they are a good fit (spend, type of purchase, location, industry, etc.). You are trying to develop a representation of the type of company—or companies—that you would like more of. From here, you can locate competitors that meet the same criteria to build out your target market profile.

Diving Deeper

Now we need to evaluate the fish. Which fish are biting? When do they bite? What fishing method works best? What type of bait do they prefer? Of course, people making buying decisions are a bit more complicated than fish taking the bait. A tool commonly used for diving deeper to strategically pinpoint who is making purchasing decisions and why is called a buyer persona. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer based on your existing customers’ data and may include demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. Your ideal fish!

Creating a buyer persona as part of your target market profile helps you understand not just who your customers are but why they are your customers, as well as when and how they buy. Keep in mind that the decision-maker may not be the person who seeks you out, so you may need several personas.

Beware of guessing as you create your personas. Assumptions are notorious for being inaccurate. You need data. You may need to talk to or survey your customers and look at data from your CRM, marketing automation tool, social media, etc. If you search online for buyer personas, you will find some that go into extreme detail, but keep in mind that if the characteristic doesn’t help you figure out how a buyer finds you and why they choose you, it is a waste of time. You aren’t identifying a specific person; you are identifying patterns and the motivations for those patterns as they relate to their purchasing activities.

Creating Your Persona

People, not companies, make purchasing decisions. This is why a buyer persona becomes an essential addition to your target market profiling. When developing your persona, determine who is involved in the buying process and what their title or role is within the company (e.g., engineering, procurement, C-suite). Evaluate each stage of the buyer’s journey. Was the first person who reached out to you the same person who made the purchase? You may need more than one persona, but be cautious of creating too many. For each persona, answer these questions:

  • What products or services are they buying? How often? How much? When are they buying?
  • How do they research and find packaging suppliers (e.g., internet search, word of mouth, social media, reviews, case studies, industry groups)?
  • How do they buy? Do they need consultation for custom packaging, or are they buying packaging from your website? Are they buying based solely on price, or do they consider total costs and value? What are their communication preferences throughout the process?
  • What roadblocks or challenges do they face? Examples include that they need agreement across multiple teams or they are under pressure to keep costs low.
  • Do personal goals and motivations play a part in their purchasing decisions? Examples might be a young packaging engineer looking to prove him- or herself by delivering a unique packaging concept or an executive-level persona whose bonus depends on profitability.
  • The most important question to ask is why? Why do they buy from you and not your competitor? Why did they buy a specific type of packaging? What were the pains they were experiencing, and what was it costing them in time, money, efficiency, etc.? It is crucial that you don’t make assumptions here.

For some questions, you might have to keep asking why to get to the root of the issue. For example, you ask your customer why they chose you, and they answer that it’s because you offer customized packaging solutions. You should ask why that mattered to them. They may answer that it’s important that their packaging reflects their brand, and their brand reputation is tied to sales. Or they may answer that their boxes and contents were being damaged in ocean freight containers from moisture, which cost them time and money. Stopping the hemorrhage of time and money is a good motivator.

People don’t make changes until the pain of staying where they are becomes greater than the pain of change. Sometimes the pains of change are created by our own minds and not based on reality. By digging deep and better understanding the pains of where they are, you put yourself in a position to lessen the pains of change.

Putting Target Markets and Buyer Personas Together

Once you have your target markets and buyer personas, you are in the position to ask how your company and your products and services address the pains, goals, and motivations of this persona. You can now craft your messaging around this so that it resonates with them. Your messaging should speak directly to those areas and not be a list of products and services that might help them. Delivering the message in a manner that the recipient prefers is also important. Think of messaging as the bait, lure, or fly, and the messaging delivery method as the fishing method (bait-fishing, fly-fishing, saltwater fishing, etc.). With the right target markets and buyer personas, and specific messaging, you can focus on fishing in the right pond.

This article appeared in the May/June issue of BoxScore magazine.