Customer Understanding for SMEs
Customer understanding is an integral part of a business, whether a big business, a small to medium-sized enterprise (SME), or small to medium-sized business (SMB), and it is crucial for a small business in a competitive market. Customer personas can help your SME in this customer understanding. Though it may seem customer personas are for big businesses, they can be very impactful for SMBs!
Visualize your current ideal customer? Visualize your ideal potential customer?
These visualizations are profiles of your customers, and this is what personas are also. Customer personas visualize your customers by representing them as fictitious individuals but having the real attributes of your actual customers. Like a social media profile, creating a customer persona involves identifying customer attributes, including product motivations, pain points, benefits, purchase triggers, and expectations. Then, add some demographics to make the persona a ‘person’!
Here is an example of a customer persona created automatically from searching data by APG, an automated persona generation system.
Customer personas, or buyer personas, can make a massive difference in performance for your small business. Depending on your business’s size, volume, and area, a SME might have just one customer persona or many customer personas.
Customer Persona Aspects Unique to SMEs
Building customer personas does not have to be complex or costly for a SME, although there are some unique aspects of persona creation for SMEs. For example, some differences may be:
- Customer relationships: For many SMEs, the customer relationship might be more intimate, more profound, and longer-lasting than is with larger enterprises. Therefore, there is more at stake for a SME in customer understanding. That negative social media review can sting a little more if you and the customer live in the same town!
- Smaller resources: The resources, such as money, personnel, and time, are limited for a SME relative to a larger company, which affects the amount of resources a SME can devote to customer persona creation.
- Tasks, in-house or outsourced: SMEs usually outsource many business tasks such as advertising, content creation, website design, or SMEs do it all in-house. Either approach will affect how you employ customer personas.
Customer Persona Data for SMEs
Customer personas are most valuable when they are created from actual customer data. SMEs have surprisingly access to large amounts of customer data that is available from several sources.
- Customer Surveys: As a SME, it is reasonably easy to survey your existing customers or potential customers, as many free survey tools are available. Also, Survey2Persona can take your survey data and automatically generate personas for your SME.
- Email Listserv: If your SME has an email list, it should!, this is great for insights into both current and potential customers.
- Google Analytics – If your SME has a website, it should be using Google Analytics for website analytics. Google Analytics is a repository of valuable customer information, such as customer demographics, search engine keywords, pages visited, and much more. Also, APG can automatically generate personas from your Google Analytics data.
- Sales Data: Your internal customer relationship management (CRM) data is an excellent source of customer insight, especially in terms of what products/services are working and what ones are not:
- Social Media Accounts: If your SME is on social media, such as TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook, your social media accounts have analytics data about your audience – note that these audience members may not be your customers! However, you can use social media analytics to identify at least potential customers and learn about them!
Customer Persona Benefits for SMEs
The benefits of customer personas for your SME are they help with:
- Content creation
- Email marketing
- Keeping customer-centric
- Online advertising
- Social media marketing
- Strengthening your product offering
- Understanding your customers
Customer Persona Updating for SMEs
Be sure to revisit your customer personas at these milestones or trigger events for your SME:
- Change – External: when there are sudden changes in the economy
- Change – Internal: whenever you change your SME products/services
- Crisis: when there is an industry crisis, as it may affect create concerns, needs, and wants in your customers that they did not before
- Events: when there are major industry events that may introduce new fashions or trends that alter the way your customers behave
- Expand: when you expand your business in any manner – geography, size, scope, or vertical
- Target: when your target a new product segment
- Time: update your customer personas at least once a year