What do you imagine when you think of a typical customer of your product or service?
Do you ever put yourself in their shoes and outline their needs? The practice of doing so is what we in the biz like to call: a buyer persona.
Buyer personas or “marketing personas” are essentially a general template or fictitious representation of your ideal customer or customers. Depending on your industry, your ideal customer may take many forms, demographics, genders, ages, etc.
Buyer personas are pivotal in web marketing, sales, product management, customer service, etc. as they allow us to understand buyer demographics, challenges, and desires.
It is essentially a way to humanize and imagine our customers rather than see them as a piece of data on an analytics report.
The helpful utility of a buyer persona emerges as we are able to craft targeted content, service their needs, develop products they actually want, and nurture the overall relationship with prospects, leads, and customers. Consequently, Fifty-two percent of marketers support two to four roles and buyer personas with dedicated content according to (LinkedIn Technology Marketing Community)
If you already know what a persona is and want to get to the grit of creating personas, go ahead and download the free buyer persona template below!
Just remember, creating buyer personas is a team effort and requires a good grasp of what types of information you need to populate your personas. Helpful material to marketing may not necessarily help the development team. Teamwork makes the dream work!
If you are still with me, let’s dive into the details of buyer personas and how they are helpful.
A closer look at the importance of buyer personas
As mentioned, buyer personas allow marketers to create targeted and outcome-driven content that your customers are actually interested in. Knowing the demographics of your ideal buyer persona allows you to provide answers to their challenges.
In addition, defining your buyer personas early have a massive impact on your buyer’s journey and overall content strategy.
It is well known that psychology sells and appealing to the more subjective nature of buyer psychology allows marketers the upper hand over customers.
I know what you may be thinking. It sounds a little ethically blurry to manipulate your understanding of your customer to give them what they want to hear. However, would you rather be advertised products you don’t care about or need? We will save ethics for another day!
It is easy to materialize a buyer persona out of who you may think your customer is but the truth is, buyer personas are data-driven outcomes. The source of that data comes from your existing customers!
Your current customers are a fountain of knowledge for you to better understand the needs of future customers. Survey them in exchange for incentives or discounts!
All data can’t be good data
The act of surveying your customer base will provide you with valuable insights that are a great launchpad for generating your buyer personas. In addition to this, it gives you a firm idea of who isn’t an ideal customer, known as a negative buyer persona.
Goldilocks principle: the sweet middle temperature between too hot and too cold.
In regards to marketing, your buyer persona is that sweet middle temperature. Your negative buyer personas are the customers that are either too hot or too cold. This could be a person searching for your content only to educate themselves or a business that is too small to afford a high-ticket software you offer.
Follow the Goldilocks principle and take careful note of your negative buyer personas.
Buyer personas in practice
After finding that sweet middle ground, it is time to rethink your approach to how you create content.
Perhaps you established that your persona is very informed on your topics and your educational content has been far too general to interest them.
Your first course of action is to pivot your content strategy to focus more on creating content that highlights your differentiating traits from competitors.
Create value-driven content that is intended to help them transition further on your buyer’s journey (more on buyer’s journeys here!). Push them from the consideration stage into the decision stage with the right piece of content.
You should then have a better grasp of how to clean your lead lists by removing anyone that doesn’t follow the Goldilocks principle. It will save you time and money in the short- and long-term.
Creating buyer personas
What is the best way to gain data about potential customers?
If available, existing customers are your best avenue for obtaining valuable insights on the challenges, needs, and demographics of your target audience.
Through research, surveys, and interviews, you should be able to apply strategic data analysis and narrow down your customers into generic personas.
Pre-sales buyer personas strategies
If you utilize social media to promote your business, most platforms provide audience insights via your admin dashboard. Through these insights, you can determine which content speaks to various audience segments.
LinkedIn visitor insights provide data on job title, location, seniority, industry and company size. Pairing that with your top performing content gives you a good chunk of information about your audience and their interests.
Another pre-sales strategy is through the actual contact forms on your website. Be wary, conversion rates can decrease based on the number of fields you cram into a contact form.
If quality over quantity is your end goal or you are in a high-ticket B2B arena, adding additional qualifying fields to your contact forms is a great way to both qualify leads and gather persona insights.
You can add fields like source, company size, and even potential challenges via a dropdown menu. Be creative and test the various options.
You can conduct industry surveys via third-party networks, through your own newsletter subscriber lists, social media, or through other partnerships. Through dedicated surveys, you can typically ask deeper and more targeted questions around particular topics.
Thought Leadership Interviews
Research and find a notable figure in your industry and approach them to conduct an interview.
Be sure to understand their expertise and past work to prevent redundant or off-topic questions.
The insights gained as well as the marketing opportunity to repurpose the content, share the interview, and cross-promote each brand is a great technique.
Post-sales buyer personas strategies
Consult with sales
Tap into your internal knowledge pool about the data your sales team may be collecting about each existing client. Cycle through each client and find similarities about their biggest concerns, desires, referral path, etc. You can find out how they found out about you and what has been working well for them. Those are potential selling points to help future prospects convert.
Many marketing departments practice a “catch and release mentality” with leads. When they convert them to a sale, they give up on any nurturing, cross-selling, or data mining.
This is a wasted opportunity! Client surveys are a great way to gain valuable data similar to sales consultations.
Create an annual or bi-annual survey strategy in which you will send a focused survey to all clients containing a specific product, challenge, or topic. The medium you choose to execute the survey can be anything from an automated email campaign, an intranet survey, or at a hosted event.
Buyer personas workshops: cross-departmental coordination
A proper buyer persona workshop may require the participation of several key departments within your company. Obtaining the data about your buyers can come from competitor research, marketing and advertising data analysis, sales qualifying workflows, and existing client surveys.
Consequently, a full/multi-day buyer personas workshop containing the following teams is a good place to start:
Competitor analysis, marketing campaign demographics in relation to content effectiveness, advertising audience segments are all key metrics that your marketing department can bring to the table.
Your product department is theoretically experts on the market your company lives in. Product and marketing work in tandem to discover what products customers want and how best to reach them. In addition, they can bring market specific unique selling propositions which will help establish who that product is geared toward.
Depending on how involved your sales team is with marketing to sales qualifying, their experience is needed. Their time with prospective customers can help discover key challenges or what is preventing a purchase. Consequently, they can also define what stage the prospect was ready to purchase and what key shifts occurred within their company to lead them there.
Consulting and Account Management
Your consulting and account management team manage existing client needs. This is a great opportunity to pool together how your product is helping them, what your product is lacking, and even what led them to choose your product.
With coordination from other departments and some due diligence on your end, buyer personas can be simple. Remember, it is important to create consistent workflows for defining your buyer personas, which will shape your buyer’s journey and content strategy. Finally, hosting a buyer personas workshop is a fantastic way to align departments and define your perfect customer.
Thanks for reading!
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