No doubt you hear plenty about buyer personas, yet never could understand how creating "characters" for marketing really works. While true that buyer personas have a connection to fiction writing, they still pertain to consumer reality.
Maybe this still sounds arcane. Nevertheless, buyer personas continue being important in marketing because they bring a better sense of targeting. Being able to do a deeper dive into the demographics you market to is a must in today's time for more personal engagement.
This is just the beginning of what you need to know about buyer personas. Take a little time to learn more about them, how the process works, and what the results typically are.
How Buyer Personas Improve Marketing Efforts
What if you had a way to know everything about your leads and recurring customer base so you could market to them more personally? This was a Herculean task a decade ago.
HubSpot describes buyer personas as "semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on data and research." This is where the analogy to writing novels comes into play. As you work with buyer personas, you essentially create characters based on the attributes of your prior and ideal customers.
Some novelists might even agree they do the same thing when creating the perfect characters for their stories. Those creative lines really do blur. Yet, what is the real effect on marketing when creating buyer personas?
Finding success with this is based on discovering more personal insights into the customer psyche. By doing similar character development deep-dives, you can accurately create a buyer persona character for your company to align with. Thanks to modern technology it's easier than ever to gather data and paint a portrait of customers. With the data you have, you are then able to customize and personalize your marketing efforts to align with the needs, wants, actions, and personalities of your ideal customers.
Buyer Personas can improve in your marketing in the following areas:
- Keyword research efforts.
- Better identifying customer needs and making tweaks to marketing content to accommodate them.
- Help create better customer segmentation for promotional activities.
- Nurture better marketing communication on what customers want in way of products or services.
How Buyer Personas Improve Sales Efforts
You can see what these personas do for marketing. What about how they work for your sales department? Some things listed above carry over into selling, especially the more targeted methods of catering to customer needs.
Beyond that, personas can be useful as the sales team works the lead through each of the sales cycle stages. The sales cycle (or funnel) is a long one that goes from discovery all the way to conversion. In-between, you will need to customize your approach depending on the persona. You wouldn’t talk to a CEO the same way as a HR Director. They have different values, wants, needs, and personalities. Therefore, your sales approach should be customized depending on which persona your lead falls into.
At the awareness level, you could send more targeted emails or texts that educate the customer on your products and what you do. Your content here could become more refined to tap into a personal problem the customer needs to solve, possibly leading to a faster path to a sale. For example, when you are targeting a HR Director you will want to speak more about how your product or service caters to employee satisfaction. Whereas when you are targeting a CEO, your message should be short, to the point, and have a strong ROI statement.
As your prospects become leads and then into customers, it is critical that you personalize your approach to the buyer persona that you are dealing with. If you send an unaligned message to the buyer persona it won’t connect with them as well and they may not see the value of your product or service. This technique requires you to create more targeted messages that tap into their emotions and needs.
As Forbes notes, buyer personas are going to help save time for your sales team. This is because personas provide your team with additional info on what your customers need and can tailor all efforts toward that focus. When you have well defined personas you will save time by already having a strong understanding of what their pain points are and what kind of solution is most important to them.
How does all this work exactly? It is important to take some time out of your schedule to create well defined buyer personas that are specific to your industry and company.
How to Create Buyer Personas
The key components to creating buyer personas are:
Demographic Information — What is the average age, gender, and location of your buyer?
Motivations/ Pain Points — What challenges do they face in their day-to-day activities? What pain points are we aiming to resolve? What are they looking to gain from a product/service like ours?
Goals — What are their short term and long term professional goals? How are they measured at work? How do your products or services help them reach their goals?
Frustrations — What are some common roadblocks they face in their day-to-day activities? What causes them to lose sleep? What obstacles are driving them to be aware of the problem or product/service will solve?
Personality — What kind of personality will this person most likely have? Are they in HR and care deeply about the wellbeing of the employees? Are they CEOs that are busy and like to keep things direct and short?
Get started now by downloading our FREE Buyer Persona Template.
How to Gather Buyer Persona Information
A few methods exist to create buyer personas. These are three of our favorite methods to gather reliable data, and we recommend to do all of them:
Going the research route is sometimes the most time-consuming. It's worth all effort, though, because you can gain an understanding of what people bought from you in recent years. By tapping into your existing database of customers, you get a sense of how past customers reacted to content you posted in the past.
You don't have to capture buyer persona information just from past customers. You can also gather data on your biggest competitors and their buyers. What kind of people are engaging with their content and what are their personality traits.
Through your research, you might find out you have one or more buyer personas and some might be different than your previous customers. As your product or service changes so may your buyer personas. Information like this is very valuable and helps you reformat any past marketing content to prevent confusion among your prospects.
A great way to learn more about your audience is conducting surveys. Create a form on your website that your site visitors and customers can fill out. The form should ask questions like, their job position, age, gender, years of experience, their biggest pain points, and what outcome is most important to them. A survey is a great way to stay connected and interact with your audience. An added bonus is that this kind of interaction shows your prospects and clients that you are really interested in their needs and can help build trust.
It is important to provide surveys frequently because what your audience wanted or needed last year is maybe different now from then. Customer tastes always change, making it essential to provide detailed surveys and carefully dissect the information they provide. A great way to boost engagement is to make your surveys easy to answer via multiple choice. Nevertheless, don't be afraid to ask some open-ended questions to gain more detailed insights.
In some cases, customers and leads are more apt to open up about things in a survey than they would if talking to them face to face.
Also consider doing some interviews with leads and customers. These can be short 15 minute calls to your favorite customers or ideal customers that you would like to fill your pipeline with.
Perhaps you can find further information through interviews you couldn't find in the surveys. You can ask more personalized and detailed follow up questions based on their previous answers to get deeper answers than what someone might have typed out on a form.
After you have conducted research, surveys, and interviews you will combine all of the data you collected and look for trends and similarities. It is likely your data is going to give you a few surprising results. You might find that your audience is younger than you expected, or in different roles, or have different pain points. You may even find new vertices your business can tap into.
What you thought was your target audience before might be a little bit different now with your findings.
Your last step is to share this information with your company so everyone is on the same page about your buyer persona discoveries. This way your team has an aligned vision that will create a more target and personal marketing approach.