As with all membership, or circulation-based businesses our fictional portal business will need to understand its audience as much as it can. Some of this understanding can be sourced from survey data and focus groups, but other information can be extracted from the membership database itself.
For example, in terms of how long the users have subscribed, what is the actual breakdown?
By understanding this data the business owner can better respond, tailor the product and prognosticate the results from any and all marketing activities.
Before you go to the time/energy and potentially cost of performing a survey of professionals within your industry you should ask yourself a few questions, such as:
- What is the desired end result?
- Who is your target audience?
- Is a telephone, qualitative (focus group), or online survey preferable?
- How will I motivate people to participate?
- Are my questions specific, yet neutral enough?
- How will I utilise the information collected?
- Can the content be reused?
Each individual business in each individual sector will have its own distinct questions and requirements, but typical survey questions to ask your audience will include (in no particular order):
- How long has your organisation been in business?
- In which industry is your organisation
- How many employees does your organisation have?
- Is your organisation within the public, or private sector?
- What is your industry outlook for the next 12 months?
- How long have you been in your present role?
- Are you looking to change roles in the next 12 months?
- What was the businesses annual turnover for your organisation in the last financial year?
- Who are your customers?
Understanding who your potential buyers (members) are is vital to conversion rates and marketing success. This books example business publishes portals aimed at professionals working within stipulated emerging technology verticals. The business needs to target these people, not people that work in administration, or back office at Retail Banks.
To better understand and target them it is worth noting as many facts about them as possible.
For example, age, location, job title, defined role, organisation size, education, values, financials, procurement privileges, decision maker, et cetera.
An example buyer persona for our emerging technology business would be:
Age: 21 – 65+
Job Title: Scientific Team Leader
Location: Sydney, Australia
Organisation Size: SMB
Education: Post Graduate
Values: Job search and accessing R&A data sets
Procurement rights: Yes, up to $10,000
Decision Maker: Yes
In other sectors, especially consumer the list will be far larger. They could include anything from age, gender, relationship status, shopping habits and so on.
I like to view buyer personas as working symbiotically with the product specification. This ensures that the product is always solving issues that matter to the prospective buyer.
When researching new products it is always wise to keep this in mind. Do a search on LinkedIn and look for how many professionals are listed on their using similar describers to your buyer personas. You can do this by filtering and searching using the faceted search they have on that platform. The answer should help dictate your views as to the potential size of your audience… and therefore the scalability of your business.