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Using the Hero's Journey to Create Your Core Message and Buyer Personas

2020 January 28 15:03 GMT-07:00

Today, we will be talking about the Hero’s Journey, and how having a core message and ideal buyer persona will take your firm’s growth to the next level. Your core message covers why your customers want to work with you. 

Understanding whom your business serves is the ideal customer profile. From there, we build buyer personas to get to the decision-makers in companies and governments.

20200127 Core Message Buyer Personas

Going On the Hero’s Journey in Marketing, Sales, and Business Development

We start with the hero’s journey. First, our hero has a call to adventure. In our case, that means he has a problem to solve. He starts on the experience by crossing the threshold, encounters the road of trials, and enters the abyss. A mentor helps her along the way.  From the most bottomless darkest hole in the void, she starts to have a metamorphosis and ultimately recovers the prize. This mentorship is where your company comes in to help solve the problem. In this case, with engineering companies, you provide engineering design and project management to make the project succeed, which is the prize. So remember you’re not the hero of the story, you’re the guide in making it happen. The client is the hero of the story. You can read more in Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces.

Hero's Journey as applied to marketing, sales, business development with mentor

It is with this attitude that we approach our marketing, sales, business development. We are seeking to be helpful to the client, and we are merely guiding them along the way.

The Importance of Core Messaging

Why is the core messaging important? You don’t want to be stuck in the sea of sameness, that is, engineering firms competing in the same space for the same clients. Your firm is not differentiated by your integrated approach or your reputation or years in business or your diversity of clients or your fresh thinking to problem-solving. You want to create a differentiated list of services or approach or why.

Here’s an example from an engineering firm with a clear core message:

OLC focuses on architecture, interior design, aquatic design, and technology design with a mission to Get Well, Be Well, Stay Well, and Live Well.

OLC Designs core message

Here are the beginning stages of building your core message.

  • Why did your last client hire you?
  • What problem does your business solve for its clients? Does it align with why they hired you?
  • What is your culture is different from other firms?

Once you have the core message, you need to see if it resonates with your ideal client profile. Much like in engineering, this is an iterative process. You test your core message with your ideal client profile and see if it resonates with them.

Determining Your Ideal Client Profile

So what is an ideal client profile? Your ideal client profile defines your target market. We’re engineers here, so we’re in the business to business sales. Your ideal customer profile will be at the company level.

So regardless of how big or small your team is, or how complex or transactional your sale is, there will be five phases in determining your ideal client profile:

  • Are there economic factors that make a client ideal or not ideal? In B2B, that might be a company’s annual revenue, the number of employees, or the number of clients.
  • Is there a specific time frame when your service is more likely to be a priority for a client? This can mean submitting a bid in time for a Request for Proposals such as in government contracts. There might be certain phases in a company’s development or growth when your service is especially helpful or relevant. There also may be seasonality factors that affect your ability to sell to your ideal clients. This helps draft the ideal client profile.
  • Are there market segments that are ideal or not ideal to sell into? For B2B, it is defined in terms of vertical or industry.
  • Are there also specific geographic locations that are ideal or not ideal? If you’re only able to serve clients who live within a certain distance of your office or speak a particular language, make a note of that in your ideal client profile. You don’t want to spend your time pitching to prospects that will never buy your service.
  • Are there legal standards or other requirements that might exclude someone from purchasing your service? With your engineering business, you want to be attuned to these kinds of restrictions so that you can avoid awkward conversations later on in the bidding process.

There’s much information to consider, but don’t let it overwhelm you. This helps you focus on the companies and governments most likely to buy from you. In the beginning, please keep it simple. For example, let’s say you’re an engineering company. The first version of your ideal client profile might include just the industry and company sizes you target. It can be governments serving populations greater than 100,000 people. As time goes on, you can revisit this basic profile and add more details, gradually make it more specific and accurate.

As you build your ideal client profile, involve other people from your company. Don’t do it alone. Sitting down in a conference room with the right people internally will improve the quality of the profile significantly. Or, at a minimum, you can create a shared document and ask colleagues who have good opinions on this topic to add notes on whom they think the ideal client profile is.  Make sure you include team members in account management, project managers, engineers, and principals in your ideal client profile creation process. Working together, you’ll be able to define an ideal client profile that will help you identify prospects who will turn into your best leads and best customers.

Defining Buyer Personas

Once you have your ideal client profile, you can start to define the buyer personas within that profile. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal client based on real data about demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. A persona represents the different types of people that exist within your ideal client profile.

From ideal customer profiles, create buyer personas

For engineering, your ideal client profile will define which companies and governments are a good fit for the offering. Your buyer personas will describe the people at those companies and governments whom you need to work with.

To start with your buyer persona, once you have the structure in place, start adding details. Focus on the prospective ideal clients have in the “awareness” stage of the buyer’s journey. They’re still trying to diagnose the problem they have. Empathize their particular perspective relative to the other personas within your ideal customer profile. How are you uniquely positioned to help them with the issues they’re facing?

Client Buying Process Awareness Consideration Decision Post Decision Purchase Stage

To answer these questions, do customer research. Go on a quick call with some of your previous clients who have signed contracts with you in the past and seen successful project completion. Find out the answers to these questions:

  1. How do they describe their goals and challenges that your engineering company helps them with?
  2. How did they research these goals and challenges before they discovered your company?
  3. Did they have any misconceptions about addressing their goals and challenges before your company helped their company solve the problem?
  4. How did they decide these goals and challenges should be prioritized?

As you discuss these questions with real clients, you’ll see patterns emerge. Those patterns are what you want your buyer persona to capture. You will get a deeper understanding of how you can help your ideal clients with these patterns. Then, you can test your core message and see how it resonates with your ideal clients.

We’ll be presenting at the Society of Women Engineers WE Local conference in Salt Lake City on February 7 on these topics! We look forward to seeing you there.

SWE Local Salt Lake City 2020

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Islin Munisteri

Written by Islin Munisteri

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