If there was one thing on which inbound marketing’s success hinged on, it would be the buyer persona. Seeking to understand properly the intended audience beyond a mere demographic is what separates inbound marketing from traditional methods, and makes it more potent, more efficient, and more likely to succeed with your buyers.
The power to purchase now lies entirely with the buyer. So if businesses have any hope of securing deals with the buyer, they’re going to have to understand them first, and then work to appeal to that.
When your business creates content designed to appeal to a buyer persona, you differentiate yourself from your competitors. Why is this? Your real customers will identify with the persona you’ve written the content for, and as a result, find your content more accurately responds to and meets their needs.
What Makes Up A Buyer Persona?
Buyer Personas are carefully researched constructs; fictional representations of your ideal customers. They have their own likes, dislikes, habits, preferences, and concerns, and knowing each of those things will help you to create content that they’ll love.
It’s the same logic that’s used for purchasing a gift for a friend or relative you don’t know very well personally. If you know a few different things about them, and the more different things you know about them, the more you’re able to supply a gift that you know they’ll respond to well.
The ability to understand the needs and concerns of your ideal customers in part or in full is a great thing; not only will this influence what kind of content you make, or what the content might be about, it’ll influence a plethora of other facets of your website.
You’ll understand the language features that set your buyers apart, and structure your website’s layout and copy to make it easy to find and appealing to navigate. You’ll understand the questions a buyer is likely to ask and can create content and FAQs that will answer these questions before they’re ever asked.
Buyer personas are all about understanding the ideal customer and making your online business as appealing and visible to this group as possible. Your ideal customers (the real ones) will find it easy to find you, and quickly be enamoured with what you have to offer, because it fits their needs perfectly.
Making The Persona (In Theory)
If you follow this link, you’ll find a buyer persona template. It’ll be your instruction manual on how to create the ideal customer to appeal to. In the meantime, you want to sit down and open up your research pool.
A buyer persona might be a fictional person, but their character traits are grounded in reality and research. Determine what characteristics make up your ideal customer is to start interviewing your existing customers. Interview and quiz past customers you’ve enjoyed doing business with; talk to your staff and get them to talk about previous interactions with customers. It’s surprising how insightful your sales crew can be when you ask them to describe dream customers they’ve had in the past.
At this stage, you’re not looking at the customers themselves, but what characteristics they had that made them so good to work with. What kind of questions did they ask your sales crew? What things did your previous customers have to think through before settling with your business? You want to look for common denominators to group together.
It may be that you have more than one set of common denominators - that your business looks after a wide variety of clients and that having just one buyer persona is going to give you too vague a result. If you have different kinds of customers with different needs, it’s perfectly reasonable to create multiple personas for your business.
The whole point of the buyer persona is to make your marketing more appealing to the individual, and if you have different kinds of individuals that you need to be appealing to, then multiple personas will be the way to go. Create as many or as little as you need to for your business. Do remember though, that the personas are created for your benefit. Too many will divide and nullify your efforts as you seek to appeal to all of them.
Making The Persona (In Practice)
Are you ready to make a persona for your online business?
You’ll need to answer a few questions that determine what the ideal customer for your business is like. So, ask yourself these questions, and using the research that you gather from current customers, your staff, and your own ideals about the vision of your business, work to create a picture of your ideal customer.
You’re looking here to define the basic details of your ideal customer. This generally encompasses their line of work, and the position that they hold in that profession. You might also want to work out other key information - such as how long they’ve been in that profession, and whether they worked their way up to their position from somewhere else in the business.
To fill in the gaps and turn your target audience into a persona, determine other, lesser things about the background of your ideal customer. Do they have hobbies? If so, what kind? Give them activities that help define their identity and would influence their time and concerns (including deciding whether or not your persona/s might have children). You might also want to decide what their education level is at, because this will affect things like the themes, concepts, and language features you’ll be likely to use.
You’re probably going to find from your research that the gender divide isn’t evenly split with your customers. For the sake of ease, choose your persona’s gender based on the largest return from research.
You’ll also want to choose an age range for your persona based on research, as well as what kind of income range they might earn. This, coupled with understanding where your ideal customers might live (Inner city? Suburbs? Rural?) will help you understand what might influence their perceived price range for your product or service, as well as what features they might value more than others.
The identifiers of your buyer persona/s will tell you many things, but they will primarily tell you how a persona is likely to communicate with you. These are things that your sales team will know from experience and will be able to articulate clearly.
Decide what kind of demeanour you’re keen to work with in an ideal customer. Are they highly professional? Uptight? Calm? You also want to work out what the communication preferences you’re likely to encounter; whether communicating with your persona happens through an assistant or directly. You also want to consider the customer’s primary method of contact - do they prefer to have collateral in hard copy? Are they more likely to respond to text, to calls, or to email? What is their response rate like?
These are questions you’ll have to ask yourself in order to gauge how likely a business or consumer is to purchase from you, and what you can expect from them in terms of communication. This is especially important when looking at response rates communication, because lead nurturing has to happen somehow.
Your personas will always have their own goals when it comes to interacting with your business, and those goals aren’t going to be deliberately do business with this company. Perhaps they’re looking to keep their employees happy, and the turnover rate of staff to a minimum, if they’re in HR. A CEO is going to have different goals in mind than a manager, or someone in accounts, so the background of your persona is going to influence what they wish to achieve.
There will always be primary and secondary goals that your ideal customers are looking to achieve. Using your research, decide what goals you’re going to meet and surpass expectations for on the part of the customer and go for it.
Closely related to goals, challenges are less about what the customer is wanting to achieve and more about the constraints that they already have to work with. Your business will be understood as helpful and worthwhile when you are able to take into account these challenges and either work with them or solve them for the ideal customer. They’re looking for solutions to their own problems, and it’s your job as the business to supply those solutions.
The Part Your Business Plays
Once you have together the goals of the ideal customers and the challenges that they’re likely to face, you’ll be able to start looking at the best way to market your business. Because you understand what the customer is trying to achieve, as well as what they’re concerned about, and you’ll be able to provide solutions for both.
Interviews with your present and previous customers will help a lot when it comes to understanding what challenges you helped them face and overcome. There may even be goals or challenges that you weren’t aware of that you helped solve.
So, when determining the part that your business is going to play when marketing itself to your ideal customers, ask yourself what goals your persona is going to be able to achieve with your help. Also ask yourself what challenges your persona faces that you’ll be able to solve for them.
A Compelling Reason
Understanding why or why not a customer might do business with you is pretty important when it comes to marketing. The use of personas allow you to address not only minor concerns, but actually address the real issues your customers have. Because you understand these problems, you can address them with comprehensive answers.
Investigate common objections that your persona might have to your solution, and work out the best way to respond to them. Remember, all of the buying power now rests with them, so in order for them to listen to you, you’ll need to show that you’re listening to them. Compile the common objections or concerns that you got from previous customers, and consolidate them into a few key statements which you’ll now be aptly equipped to answer.
Using buyer personas allows you to simultaneously highlight the issues that your buyers face and provide them with a solution. It puts you at an advantage with grabbing and maintaining the interest of your customers.
How Are You Going To Present Your Business?
Because you now understand the priorities, the concerns, the challenges, and the goals of your ideal customer, being able to market yourself to them will become a lot easier. Decide how you can best describe the solution you’re offering in a way that is most palatable to your now-understood customer.
Finally, wrap up your presentation of your business into an elevator pitch. When you understand what the ideal customer looks like for your business, it becomes much easier to build a pitch that provides a solution while speaking the language of your ideal customer.
More Than One Kind Of Persona
Chances are that if you’re using the buyer persona model to be bringing in more of your ideal customers, you may also want to develop negative personas. They’re not quite the evil twins of buyer personas, but a negative persona is described by traits that make for poor buyers. Perhaps the level of service they’re looking for is higher than what you can offer, or they’re painfully slow to convert, asking too many of the wrong questions along the way.
You need to be aware of these personas because recognising them will save you time, money, and hassle. You’ll be able to see them coming and react appropriately.
On the upside, though, the personas model of marketing allows for many of these to be developed. Creating your buyer personas gives your marketers a better idea of who they’re writing for and enables them to create content that your real customers are going to be able to find, know, and love, and buy from you as a result.
The buyer persona model sets up a type of marketing that is completely different to how traditional marketing worked. Here, the concern is on making the material interesting to the customer, and making it visible to the searching customer. The buyer decides whether the product or service is bought, and so it is the buyer to whom the marketer needs to appeal to.
When writing content to meet multiple personas, develop a primary persona first and then create content to match it while you decide on criteria for your secondary personas. Publishing targeted content is your goal and the sooner you’re able to do that, the better. Hone your content targeting in further once you have established a solid content creation strategy.