When it comes down to yes or no, understand how your best customer makes decisions and focus on trust builders to persuade.

Best Online Customer ModelIn our last post, we walked through an exercise mapping the full path to our best customer. Instead of 1 decision maker, we identified 4 audiences, all with unique needs, leading us to our best customer:

1. The Board of Directors
2. CEO
3. VP of Marketing
4. Marketing Manager

In this post, exercise 4 builds a model identifying how each audience makes decisions. This knowledge will help you to brainstorm a strategic, tactical plan to meeting those needs by asking questions that get into your best customer’s decision making mindset.

Click through exercises 1 -3 for a refresher of our best customer model.

My Best Customer Exercises 1 - 5

  1. Begin with straight forward demographics
  2. Brainstorm problems, pain points and goals
  3. Ask yourself–”Are they the final decision
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  4. How do they make decisions?
  5. Finally, brainstorm trust builders- what does

    each person involved in the decision making process need to feel comfortable doing business with you?



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Exercise 4 - How do they make decisions?

There are 4 decision making styles to gathering and processing information. Those mindsets are better understood by asking yourself how each audience would answer the following questions:

Audience 1: Board of Directors

Let’s consider first our Board of Directors. As elected or appointed members, their goal is to oversee the activities and decisions of the company. Think about the collective way they are expected to respond in this situation. It is likely they will need a lot of information.

What is top of mind for the board? Consider questions like these:

  • Does this solution fall in line with our current direction?
  • Do the proposed vendors have experience in the industry?
  • Do they have broad knowledge of branding? We do not want a technology only company.

Audience 2: CEO

It is also likely that our CEO needs a lot of targeted, summary information so that he can weigh options quickly. His perspective is from a strategic business focus. He may ask:

Audience 3: VP of Marketing

This VP of Marketing has a competitive mindset. She asks–what’s in it for me? She expects a lot out of herself and others.

  • What are competitors doing in Social?
  • Who can I trust to guide me through a successful campaign?
  • Is pricing competitive?
  • What if I fail? How will it impact my job?

Audience 5: Marketing Manager

Often times, a marketing manager is responsible for work planned and managed by internal folks and contractors. This marketing manager values people first. His questions are rooted in planning the day-to-day marketing activities of the teams that he works with and that the solution can be managed realistically.

Trust Builders

Armed with this information, our final step in the process is to brainstorm trust builders. What do each of our audiences need to feel comfortable doing business with you?

Our final exercise 5 will result in a targeted list of trust builders that

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will be prioritized by impact based on your goals. Additionally we may need to estimate the amount of time, resources, and budget by meeting with individual team members or managers so that the overall project needs can be estimated.

Turn the knowledge you already have about your best customer into an actionable web plan to target future ones like them. Focus on the decision makers and their needs.

heart-puzzle1Your future customers are the ones you love to work with and fit like a puzzle piece into your business model.

In our last blog post, we captured demographic information about our best customer– a VP of Marketing that had a problem she was trying to solve. By living vicariously through her, we formed a foundation built around solving her problem by

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listing out her concerns and identifying specific project goals. It was evident that those goals were a mix of her own perceptions and C-suite objectives. This foundation barely scratched the surface but was an excellent start.

In this blog post we’ll focus on exercise 3, working through a process to illustrate the decision making path

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that includes our VP of Marketing and all the folks we must consider in our web plan.

Click through exercises 1 and 2 for a refresher of our best customer model.

My Best Customer Exercises 1 - 5

  1. Begin with straight forward demographics
  2. Brainstorm problems, pain points and goals
  3. Ask yourself- “Are they the final decision maker?”
  4. How
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    do they make decisions?

  5. Finally, brainstorm trust builders- what does each person involved in the decision making process need to feel comfortable doing business with you?


___ Exercise 3 - Are they the final decision maker?

Why is important to know whether our best customer is a decision maker? If they are not, then digging deeper is not an option. A web plan must take into consideration each person’s or entity’s needs involved in the decision making process. By addressing those needs, it becomes more likely that your product or service will be considered as a solution to their problem.

Remember our VP of Marketing?

  • Job Title - VP of Marketing
  • Age - 40-55
  • Gender - Female
  • Education - College
  • Race / Ethnicity - White / Non-Hispanic
  • Income - $80-150K
  • Marital Status - Single
  • Technology User (type) - Mobile phone, tablet, desktop

Let’s recount her goals:

How did our VP of Marketing become

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aware she had a problem to sovle?

The Trigger

Last quarter, the CEO met with the board to discuss concerns over perceived branding issues related to a recent acquisition and split of their product offering.

The Decision Making Process

This trigger set off a series of events that started with the CEO. Our VP of Marketing was tasked with finding a solution and she brought in her marketing manager and his team. The events took place as follows:

  • At last month’s management meeting, the CEO brought up a new initiative to start a Twitter campaign to make the company look more progressive. Specifically the division that was affected by the acquisition.
  • The CEO tasked our VP of Marketing to provide recommendations to answer the question—���How can we can make the newly acquired company look more progressive?” The budget is at $125,000 but he wants to have potential vendors provide their recommendations and estimates.
  • The VP of Marketing tasked the marketing manager to research digital companies that have experience in Social with a track record in getting results for companies within their industry.
  • The Marketing Manager has a small team and is concerned with handling all aspects of such a project. He will perform the research and deliver 3-5 companies that fit the requirements, share those results with the VP of Marketing and work directly with the vendors to determine if they are a good fit for the project.
  • The VP of Marketing will participate in the decision making process and report the findings to the CEO.
  • The CEO will report to the Board of Directors and provide his recommendation. The Board will accept or approve the strategy and budget.

Our decision making process is a combination of 4 audiences all with different goals and objectives. By

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thinking through the full path to the final decision maker, we have identified:

  1. The Board of Directors
  2. CEO
  3. VP of Marketing
  4. Marketing Manager

Our next blog post will walk you through a framework that illustrates how each audience makes decisions and identify the kind of information they may need to feel comfortable doing business with a potential partner.

Each decision maker has a unique style in gathering and processing information that falls into 4 decision making mindsets. Those mindsets are illustrated by asking each audience the questions below:

  • Do you need a lot of information to make a decision?
  • Do you make decisions on the fly?
  • Do you have a “what’s in it for me” attitude when you make a decision?
  • Do you value people first in making decisions?

In our next blog post, we’ll drill deeper into our 4 audiences to understand how they make decisions. With this information, we’ll begin to put together a matrix that drives planning toward action.

A step-by-step guide focused on meeting the needs of your ideal customer.

Describing who you want to do business with shouldn’t be complicated.

Keep it simple– it’s a process that, like making beautiful Origami, origamiwith practice gets easier.

In this series, you’ll be guided through the process of developing a model of what you already know about your best customer– the one you want to work with often.

At the end of these 5 exercises, you will have the building blocks to translate that knowledge it into an actionable plan. Let’s get started.

My Best Customer Exercises 1 - 5

  1. Begin with straight forward demographics
  2. Brainstorm problems, pain points and goals
  3. How do they make decisions?
  4. Ask yourself– “Are they the final decision maker?”
  5. Finally, brainstorm trust builders– what does each person involved in the decision making process need to feel comfortable doing business with you?


    ___ Exercise 1-Begin with Straight Forward Demographics

    You’re goal isn’t to communicate specifically to a demographic but rather to help visualize your prospective audience–bring them to life so to speak, so that you can communicate more about them to yourself and others.

  • Job Title - VP of Marketing
  • Age - 40-55
  • Gender - Female
  • Education - College
  • Race / Ethnicity - White / Non-Hispanic
  • Income - $80-150K
  • Marital Status - Single
  • Technology User (type) - Mobile phone, tablet, desktop

[back to exercise list]

Great start!

___Exercise 2 - Brainstorm Problems, Pain points and Goals

Next, what is the problem or issue your VP of Marketing is experiencing? Think through the trigger or motivation that brought them to seek your product or service as a potential solution. Note their pain points and frustrations. Then finally, what is ideal outcome in solving the problem–the goal?

In working with your VP of Marketing, if they can’t verbalize the goal, it might be a good idea to turn them toward four [on the fly] questions they can ask to help align expectations and set realistic goals.

Answer these questions:

What trigger or motivation caused her to seek out your services? At last month’s management meeting, the CEO brought up a new initiative to start a Twitter campaign to make the company look more progressive.

What pain points is the VP of Marketing experiencing?

  • I don’t know much about how to start a full-fledged Twitter. campaign.
  • Is Twitter the only option in Social?
  • Who can I trust to guide me through the process of understanding how to setup a campaign?
  • How much will it cost?
  • What if I fail? How will it impact my job?
  • I have a good SEO background. I’ve assessed both Search and Web Analytics reports and there is work to be done with optimization.
  • My team is small and I don’t have the bandwidth to get all of the assessments, research and implementation work done by the deadline.
  • Budget is low but will increase with good results.

What goals does the VP of Marketing seek in finding their solution?

  • To have a full analysis performed by 3 potential digital partners.
  • Final recommendations should answer the question—“How can we make the company look more progressive?��� Open to other suggestions as well.
  • Need a results oriented partner to help me get the heavy work done but my team can implement the strategy to save money.

[back to exercise list]

Our next blog post will continue to evolve the best customer model, focusing on identifying the path to the decision maker. This exercise will guide you through the various touch points that bring you closer to understanding the things each person or persons, in

the decision making process, need to feel comfortable doing business with

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