It is a very common situation…
You are getting ready to start your first funnel, scale your business, or run some paid traffic.
You open up your browser, head over to Google, and start searching online for ways on how to build a profitable online business.
If it was anything like what I found when I was first searching, you’ll find that about 95% of the articles, guides, and references mention that you need to start by researching your market and creating this thing called a “customer avatar” or “buyer persona.”
Essentially, a mock-up of an individual that we “think” is representative of our market once we find out:
- What books they read
- What magazine they subscribe to
- What blog or websites they visit
- What conferences they attend
- What gurus they follow
Really, at the end of the day, this is our best guess.
Where people get it wrong is that they assume they know everything about their prospects based on this research.
Now don’t get me wrong. Doing that kind of research is very important and a huge piece of the puzzle. Everyone should start out by searching for what interests their market has, but that only paints part of the picture.
We are still missing a huge piece.
Searching what your market is interested in does not give you the data to know what is in your customer’s mind – which is key.
You see, when it comes to creating a customer avatar or buyer persona, there are generally two schools of thought.
- You need to do an extensive deep dive into an appropriate sample size of your market. Survey, survey, survey, quantify, and do a regressional analysis to find correlations – a really scientific approach.
- Do what you can but take action. Action is more important and refine as you go. Don’t wait for surveys or interviews to be conducted to create your first draft of an avatar. It is ok to make “assumptions.” – a more laid back, learn on the go approach.
This quickly brings up a few certain issues. Getting accurate data vs. speed.
Getting accurate data vs. speed.
Which one do we go by? At this point, many stop focusing on building their sales funnels, running their ads, or build a profitable online business, and start focusing on how to create a customer avatar instead.
That is a no-no.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of action over perfection. However, at a certain point, we can only get so far up until we need to actually get into the subconscious mind of our market to really see results.
The only way to do that is to survey and get in touch with them – but that takes time and sometimes money.
So what we need is a holistic blend of the two schools of thought. One that is able to give us insight into the minds of our customers but that does not impede us from taking action. A way to take action while acquiring data.
We also need to know how to survey our customers if we don’t have the time or money and the types of questions we need to ask.
Well keep reading, that is why I created this list of the 3 Secrets To Understanding Your Perfect Customer.
Secret 1: Our Market has No Idea What They Want
Steve Jobs said it once, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show them.”
Another way we can look at it is like this:
People don’t know what they want, but they know what they don’t want.
Why is this?
I tend to believe that it is a matter of perspective. Our market only knows what they know. The only limits are those of vision.
You see when it comes to your business, you are the expert and you see the possibilities and see how great your product/service is because you are seeing the world through a different lens.
Your business is YOUR first language, but your business it is your markets third or even fourth language – they don’t get it.
But we still need to get insight into the minds of our market.
How do we tap into that potential? How can we ask our market for what they want even though they may not know?
Well, we ask them for what they don’t want.
Asking our market for what they don’t want seems contradictory, however, it will lead you to many surprises.
Many times, you’ll receive more compelling responses filled with more in-depth details, more examples, and more suggestions.
To give you an example, one of the most common questions I see on surveys is:
“How can we improve our service?”
A better way to ask that question is:
“What about our service did you not enjoy?”
See the difference there?
The first question is about you and the second question is about them. Your market does not care about you, they only care about themselves.
It also focuses on what they did not enjoy, hence, what they don’t want.
It may be hard to ask that type of question because we never really want to receive negative feedback, but what you have to keep in mind is that it will give you insight into the areas of opportunity found within your business, your market, and the products/service that you offer.
All this based on the language and thoughts that are within your market.
At that point, it is up to you to flip the script on what they do not want and integrate those responses into the new innovative product/service you are creating as well as your messaging.
This leads me to market research secret number 2
Secret 2: No Limits…
When I am asked to take surveys, I normally tend to say yes because I am a huge geek and like to see what the survey layout is.
The majority of the time, I see surveys littered with multiple choice responses, radio buttons, checkboxes, etc.
The reason being, it makes taking surveys really easy and fast.
The benefits to asking these types of question is that they are great for demographic data such as
But it limits the amount of information you can collect and the type of psychographics that you need to obtain.
It also suffers from the fact that you have to partially assume how your market will answer the questions to create the survey.
A better way is to integrate a few more open-ended questions.
Open-ended questions allow your market to essentially open up their minds to give a response. Some might give a short sentence while others may give a full-blown essay. Both are great but more importantly, we gain a huge insight into the minds of our market and how they describe things in their own terms.
Even better, we get to see the exact language our market is using. We can then use this language to influence all the copy, the ads, and every other piece of marketing material – to reflect what is inside our markets head.
Let’s combine secrets 1 and 2 and provide you with a few examples of open-ended questions:
- Please finish this sentence “If I could just…”
- When it comes to X, what is the biggest challenge you are facing right now?
- In regards to X, what has been your biggest complaint?
- What don’t you want from X?
Now, let’s take it a step further and put it into perspective.
I survey my email list and when I do I ask them this question:
When it comes to your online marketing, what is the #1 single biggest challenge you are facing right now?
A response I collected was:
“I don’t even know where to begin. I have a list of zero. How do I build a list to even market to?”
Another response I collected was:
“Creating and launching online marketing campaigns that have specific goals and a way to monitor and measure its results to feel confident that they are working.”
From here, I know that I can create a guide on “How To Build An Email List You Can Market To, Even If You Are Starting From Zero.”
It is up to me to decide if it is going to be a blog post, a video, a step-by-step guide, a pdf, an online training course, etc.
But as you can see, I used the exact language that my market was using. I don’t have to guess or assume. I know.
I also know that my market wants to know about creating marketing campaigns that give them the confidence that they are working.
By understanding what our market does not want, what challenges they are facing, and giving them an open-ended question where they are allowed to express themselves, ultimately gives us a deeper sense of who our market actually is and what needs they actually have.
Secret 3: Ask Without Asking
You might be saying, “Dude, this all sounds cool but how do I do it? How do I get them to answer these open-ended questions when I don’t have the time or money?”
Well, you don’t ask, you automate…
The best way I have found to survey your market is to automate the entire thing by incorporating it directly into your auto-responder sequence.
That is how you take action but at the same time research your market properly. Plus, the data evolves over time to reflect the changes that may be happening in your market.
Here is how it usually works:
Someone see’s your ad. They click on this ad and they go to a landing page where they are asked to enter an email in exchange for something of value that is free. Once they enter their email, they are a part of your email list and your autoresponder kicks in sending them a few automated emails.
Typically, the first email someone receives is a welcome email that introduces them to your world. It also sets up the expectation for what they can expect to receive being a part of your list.
I say you add one more line to that email.
Add a line that says “Now please take a moment to introduce yourself (and tell me a little bit more about your situation.)” – See below.
Then you link that line with the survey that you build out. You can use something as simple as Google Forms or my current favorite tool TypeForm.
What you then do is integrate that survey with Google Sheets so the responses are automatically downloaded for you to easily reference at a later date.
Starting to see the magic now?
Whenever someone opts in into your email list, they are automatically sent a link for them to take the survey. This is also a great way to qualify your list.
What I also recommend doing is setting up the automation within your email service responder to send a reminder email after 3-5 hours to those that have not clicked the link.
That email can be a little more serious in tone and give them an ultimatum.
“Please introduce yourself and tell me a little more about your situation or click the unsubscribe link at the bottom….” – See below.
This email is a great qualifier because it weeds out those individuals that are just going to be freeloaders versus those that you will actually be able to help.
It also helps drive to increase your survey take rate which means you get a heck of a lot more data.
Putting It All Together
Ok so at this point, you have done a couple things:
- You have researched your market online and found what their interests are.
- You have created a survey and integrated it with your email autoresponder to send to new opt-ins automatically.
- The survey you send out has a combination of the demographic based questions but also open-ended questions that ask customers for what they do not want.
By combining all these elements together, you’ll have a profound domino effect on the rest of your marketing.
Everything is affected including your:
- Content marketing – the kinds of blog posts, videos, social media posts, podcasts, offers, you should be creating and the language you should be using to attract.
- Paid traffic – the types of ads you will be running along with the copy and images you will be using.
- Product creation – The actual solutions your market needs and which ones you will provide.
- Copywriting – the language and the wordplay you’ll use on everything from your landing pages, sales pages, and website.
- Email marketing – the kinds of email you’ll send out to your list and the content that resonate with them most.
The benefits, don’t just stop there.
It will also transition into your sales.
It really pays to research your market so do so smart, fast, and effectively.
Bonus: Your Perfect Customer
So earlier, I mentioned this concept of “Perfect Customer” and this is my take on what your customer avatar actually is.
It can only be created once you do the research and you survey your customers with the steps I mentioned above.
But even then, that is not enough….notice I said customer and not “avatar.”
A customer has purchased from you and I’m not talking about any customer, I’m talking about your perfect customer. The one that makes repeat purchases, the ones that never ask for a refund, the ones that end up promoting your brand and end up becoming advocates.
It will take some manual effort to find these people in your sales records, but it will be well worth it. Once you find them. Send a unique survey only designed for them and get on the phone with and have a conversation.
You can start that conversation by saying “Thank you….”
The results you get from these perfect customers have a higher weight than those that responded from your automation set up. You should double down and focus on surveying these customers and incorporating the language these customer use in all of your marketing material.
By focusing on these customers, you attract more of the same.
But what if I don’t have customers? -That’s ok. Start with your list first and listen to them. Then provide offers to turn them into customers. Repeat this process.
What if I don’t have a list? – Well, then I would highly recommend opting in for my “4 Steps To Build A Profitable Online Business” (found below) which will outline how to build a list. Essentially, you research your market and figure out what they need. Once you know what they need, create something of value that addresses that need and give it away for free in exchange for their email. Once they opt-in for your offer, send them a welcome email with the survey built in.
I hope these 3 secrets really help you in understanding your market and also your perfect customer. Additionally, if you’d like to learn more about surveying your market, I highly recommend getting a copy of Ryan Levesque’s book “Ask.”
Let me know in the comments below the kind of questions you are going to be asking your market to really understand what they don’t want.