Profiling and Understanding Your Ideal Customer (Creating an Empathy Map)
Working with technology day in and day out, it is easy to lose your focus on the desired outcome. Certainly, paying attention to the latest and greatest and what our competitor is up to plays a big role.
However, I see it way too often…
Web Hosters losing sight of what their customers need… misunderstanding what it is their customer wants… leading to a total disconnect.
That disconnect is usually a decline in sales.
“The business that wins is the business that understands their customer better than anyone else.”
Think about that quote for a moment and really let it sink in.
The business that wins is the business that understands their customer better than anyone else.
Internalizing this little fact can put you head and shoulders above your competition. This exact method has been used to create billion dollar companies. Get this wrong… game over.
Get it right, GAME ON.
Sometimes when I am working on a project, I stop and ask myself, “What the hell is this thing all about? Who is it for? What pain is it solving?”
The customer MUST be your focus!
Each customer and prospect has an internal conversation. Before you can understand the conversation running through your audiences head though, you need to know the “story that they are telling themselves“.
What is the end result they want to achieve?
What’s their pain?!
You shouldn’t build out your next product line without FIRST knowing this.
The research and undercover work you will end up doing will form the framework of your next product or service.
Heck, it should determine the entire direction of your company.
Getting your “tribe of customers” to respond to your services will all come down to how well you understand your customer, and then in turn communicate to the customer in a language that resonates with them.
You may think you already know your audience. But ask yourself … do you really?
What I am about to share you is something I’ve held close to the vest for awhile. It’s time I shared it with you so you can implement and grow your business.
Grab a beer (really, it helps with creativity) and prepare to do a bit of detective work. Let’s find out who your customers truly are, what they want, and the pain points they feel when implementing technology.
Answer These Questions
- What is the end result that your ideal customer wants to achieve?
- What are the elements required to bring your customer to their desired result? (the roadblocks)
- What can you give them (information or services) that will move them closer to that end result? (… break this down in to steps.. step 1 (domain).. step 2 (hosting).. you get the idea here.)
- What is the biggest fear they have that’s stopping them from getting to the end result? (hint: find the pain!)
Essentially, we are viewing this from the customer perspective. It might even help to have lunch with a client so you can secretly probe their comments. The important thing here, take off your Web Hoster cap and put on the customer cap. You need to put yourself in their shoes to understand what makes them tick.
Build an Empathy Map
I learned about empathy maps back in 2010, when I read the book Gamestorming. In fact, it was the one big takeaway I got from the book. Gamestorming also teaches companies how to build an internal culture focused on productivity and interactivity. It’s a fantastic read and one you should pick up if you are the CEO or Manager of a Web Hosting company.
Download the following blank empathy map and print it out.
Here’s a picture of a filled out empathy map:
An empathy map is a map of a real or fictitious person’s point-of-view. What do THEY see,say, think, feel and hear.
… it’s THEIR perspective. THEIR world view. THEIR emotions. THEIR beliefs.
An empathy map allows you to go deep inside their minds, their emotions, and the stories that they tell themselves. It helps you really get inside their head.
Done right, this will be the most important weapon you have EVER created. That’s right, a weapon. Quite simply, get this right and you will literally be able to print money and render competition useless.
I’ve seen this used up close and personal. It works.
So here’s what to do…
Name your empathy map after a person. Bob, Bill, or Brenda. Something that represents your ideal customer.
Give this person a job. I’m guessing that you will either pick an IT Manager or a Small to Medium Business owner for your avatar. Someone who has a need for your web hosting product or service. If you are a larger web host and server smaller hosts, it may even be a small web host owner as the avatar you will be creating.
It may even be useful to fill in some additional details such as if the person wears glasses or is going bald. Maybe they wear a pocket protector or carry two cell phones. Anything that you can add helps. I’ve searched Google images before and used an image for mine.
These details are not frivolous — you want to enable yourself to enter the point-of-view of your ideal customer.
Empathy maps are divided into four quadrants:
- THINK & FEEL?
- SAY & DO?
Your job (while drinking your beer) is to fill in each of these quadrants.
1 — WHAT DOES HE SEE?
Describe what your ideal customer sees in his environment:
- What does he read?
- What types of offers is HE exposed to daily?
- What problems does he encounter at work?
2 — WHAT DOES HE HEAR?
Describe how the environment influences your ideal customer:
- What do his friends say?
- Who really influences him, and how?
- What types of radio shows does he listen to?
3 — WHAT DOES HE REALLY THINK & FEEL?
Try to sketch out what goes on in your ideal customer’s mind:
- What is really important to him (which he might only think)?
- What motivates him to come to work each day?
- Try to describe his aspirations (SUPER important).
- What annoys him?
4 — WHAT DOES HE SAY & DO?
- How does he behave towards others who work for him?
- What does he tell others around him?
- Sometimes people will say one thing and do another, try to capture this.
5 — WHAT IS HIS PAIN?
- Does he have any frustrations?
- What obstacles stand between him and his goals and dreams?
- Which risks might he fear taking?
6 — WHAT DOES HE GAIN?
- What does he truly desire to achieve?
- How does he measure success?
- What strategies would he use to obtain his end goal?
There’s no such thing as too much information. Have a beer (only one or two – the results go to hell after two for me).
Be absolutely certain that the answers you place on the page are from the customers POINT-OF-VIEW.
For example … if you want to understand the buying decision your ideal customer goes through – your question might be — “Why should I buy Web Hosting Product X?” (notice the first-person)
Asking questions like this will help you to populate your empathy map. Keep asking questions. There is no perfect answer. This is all conjecture.
Fill in the diagram with real, tangible, sensory experiences.
If this all seems like a lot of work … you are right, but it is absolutely CRUCIAL.
Listen, don’t spend a week on this. In fact, do it in a group setting with others around you. This may make it much easier to build a customer profile.
Generally, I like to create a male and a female empathy map. Honestly, they think differently, talk internally to themselves differently, and they FEEL differently.
I also encourage you to interview actual customers as well as potential customers.