What is white space?
A brand’s white space refers to the room in a competitive market that the brand has to stand out. For example, a chemical company may recognize a desire among consumers for eco-friendly products. They create a new brand of eco-friendly chemicals that allow them to stand out in that white space. The white space also refers to your unique value proposition in comparison to your competitors. Generally, the more unique and relevant your proposition is to consumers, the better you will seem to prospective customers. User experience is huge and proposing relevant solutions that will help your customers overcome their challenges and achieve their goals is key.
How do I find my white space?
White Space is found by researching your current customer base, or who your ideal customer is, and putting together a generalized view of who they are, what they are looking for, and what problems they have that you can solve. A few ways to research include market research, surveys, focus groups, and other cheaper alternatives such as researching what resonates with your consumers through social media.
According to HubSpot, buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of a company’s or a brand’s ideal buyer or current buyers. These data are gathered from things like market research and existing customer data and put into a character archetype representing an average type of buyer. When constructing a buyer persona, a lot of information is needed as insights may be gained from unexpected information. Data such as gender, ethnicity, national origin, location, income, residence type, what devices they use, their motivations, their problems, education, and many other preferences and demographic information may prove invaluable depending on what type of product you offer. For example, without knowing what social networks your buyers frequent, or their media preferences, you cannot craft an effective media plan. Similarly, without knowing the buyer’s motivations or problems, advertisements and posts will not be as effective as they could be decreasing ROI. Basically, personas will help guide product development, marketing, and alignment of your organization towards what your ideal consumer wants.
Pro tip: 3-5 personas is what is usually recommended to cover your customer base.
Similar to negative keywords, negative personas are just like regular personas except the data are gathered from who you do not want to be your customer. This could be customers that return a negative ROI, have a negative lifetime value, or troll and generally negatively impact the perception of your products. For example, if you sell a boutique, high-end product, don’t target people who buy based only on the cheapest price. They may shop for products in your category, but they’re technically not your customers. Negative personas can ultimately help decrease the new customer acquisition cost and the cost per lead by helping to reduce bad leads.
Use of Personas
Use personas to guide interactions with your consumers. Some buyers may respond to one call to action more than another, and you know this from the persona you developed from your customer data. Perhaps you even have multiple personas within your customer base. Instead of sending out 1 type of email for things like shopping cart reminders, promotions, or special offers, personas allow you to determine what offers work best for different personas and tailor your communication to fit each type. Send different content within emails or communications to each persona, or create scripts based on personas to maximize the chance of engagement and conversion, and see what works with each.
What you can do with personas and data is really up to your imagination. For instance, you may be running an AdWords campaign and notice that on the weekends you get more clicks from men over the age of 30, but during the week your main leads are women in their 20s. Personas can help you craft ads that speak to your customers’ unique challenges by allowing you to better understand them.
Pro tip: Combine personas with customer life cycle stages to create highly targeted content and increase chances of conversion.
Here is a complete persona example from Buffer:
Creating Buyer Personas
You may be already gathering customer information that could help you create buyer personas.
Interviewing customers, market research, and cautious generalizations will help with an initial assessment of what indicators separate your customers into different personas.
2. Your data
Going through your own customer and lead databases searching for similarities and correlations between your customers may also help you reveal what segments your buyer groups. Look into your analytics data and see what brought each consumer to your site. Perhaps the majority of men searched for men’s belts, while women tended to search for leggings. Understanding what your customer is searching for can help you determine what challenges they have and how you can best market yourself to help them complete your goals.
3. Their data
Once you have a good idea of the similarities among your customers that allow you to segment them, carefully crafting online forms to capture relevant data will help you to better create marketing messages, unique content, and calls to action for your leads. Important data might include customer life cycle stage, income, goals, and challenges.
Trial and error is inevitable with creating personas. You may expect that income separates your buyer personas, but find out later that different goals and challenges were more effective segmentation tools. It’s most important to try different tools and see what works. Use all of the data you have about your current and future customers to your advantage.
Many of the problems marketers run into when segmenting consumers based on personas is in the implementation and followthrough.
Not being proactive
A lot of marketers sadly take the old “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” adage. Personas and the systems used to implement and support them require constant tweaking and fine-tuning to stay relevant.
Not following through
Halfway implementing a system is another common problem marketers run into. Implementing a consumer segmentation marketing plan based on personas is a massive undertaking and a lot of work. But, it will pay off if you stick with it.
Thinking you don’t need personas anymore
Similar to how some people start taking medicine and then stop because they feel better, you should not stop segmenting using personas once your conversions increase. Your conversions are increasing most likely due to better targeting through segmentation. Stopping or neglecting your persona-based marketing plan will eventually bring you back to where you were before you started it.