A buyer persona is a representation of your target customer. It’s a picture you create based on research with actual customers. However, it goes beyond the standard demographics. Buyer personas are based on what drives a person to take action. Furthermore, you must develop buyer personas to succeed in your inbound marketing program. This rings true regardless of the size or scope of your business. This post will outline what exactly constitutes a buyer persona. It will also delve into why they are essential to the well-being of your business.
Buyer personas are a staple of most marketing departments. However, your entire organization should understand and embrace them. Buyer personas help teams allocate resources, attract leads, and understand what drives people to make purchases. In a nutshell, they’re the type of customers that remind you why you initially entered the marketing game.
Personas help answer the following:
- What type of content will likely generate a response from a specific type of customer?
- How does your ideal customer prefer to engage in the inbound marketing and sales process?
- What sort of problems do your customers need to solve, and how does your business help them?
In this post, we’ll review the basics of personas. We’ll also outline how best to build a persona. This post will also cover specific interview questions that your team can use. Lastly, we’ll demonstrate how to use buyer personas across your organization.
When you’re done reading this post, the following will be clear to all:
- Why personas are essential
- The impact they have on your bottom line
- Their relationship with inbound marketing, and
- How to create them successfully
Why are buyer personas important?
Developing strong personas is a critical first step for any marketing campaign. Regardless of your business’s size, you want to get the most out of your inbound marketing budget.
Buyer personas embody the type of customer that generates the most revenue. Furthermore, they generate revenue with little friction and do so over the longest possible period of time.
In the absence of fundamental research, you never truly know what attracts new leads, nor what drives them to buy. This will undoubtedly leave a healthy chunk of potential profits on the table. This research extends to all aspects of your inbound marketing campaign. It will also guide you through nearly every business decision you make.
The time and effort you spend writing great content will pay dividends if you create the content with a persona in mind.
Here are a few more reasons why developing buyer personas can either make or break your inbound marketing:
It’s wicked easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you – the marketer – are the target audience. You are only one type of customer, and yours is not the only persona you need to reach. You must develop multiple personas. Doing so allows you to empathize with all of your customers. Furthermore, crafting multiple personas also allows you to create messages from multiple perspectives, not just your own.
It’s easy to develop content once you know your buyer personas and what makes them tick. A poorly aimed marketing message will dilute your efforts and lead to missed opportunities. Personas help ensure that your marketing and sales teams share a common understanding of your ideal customers.
One of the greatest mistakes you can make is to assume that you know what your customer wants. It is an even greater mistake to assume that you know what they need. The only way to know this is to ask questions that identify the gaps your product/service attempts to fill. Once you identify your customer’s problem(s), you can craft a more meaningful inbound marketing strategy.
The relationship between buyer personas and inbound marketing
Inbound marketing is a means to capture new leads and convert them into customers. Stellar content is an essential element of inbound marketing when it is designed to attract customers. There are a number of different types of content that you can develop. In most cases, you’ll employ a variety of mediums in your approach, including, but not limited to:
- Blog Posts
- Online Videos
- White Papers
- Social Media Posts
- Online Advertising
You’re essentially taking a shot in the dark if you lack a comprehensive understanding of your customers. Yes – you can make educated guesses that produce some positive results. However, taking the time to develop personas is far more cost-effective. Developing inbound marketing campaigns with buyer personas in mind allows you to focus your efforts and increase your ROI.
Developing buyer personas helps you determine the following:
- Which format(s) will earn the best response
- Which media channels are likely to reach the largest audience
- The tone you should employ when writing content or communicating with your customers
- The types of content that will attract the largest number of new leads
- The CTAs that will generate the best response rate
Does my industry use buyer personas?
Businesses of all sorts can employ inbound marketing to grow their sales and revenue. This means that virtually any business will benefit from developing buyer personas.
Here are just a few examples of the types of businesses that use buyer personas:
- B2B Sales
- B2C Sales
- Service Providers
- Online Businesses
- Brick & Mortar Retailers
If you’re in the business of sales, then you must understand what drives your customer to buy.
Developing buyer personas is the best way to ensure that your messaging resonates with those that keep your company profitable.
What is and what isn’t a buyer persona?
There are countless misconceptions about buyer personas. It is often assumed that a persona is needed for every role encountered throughout the buying process. Another misguided belief is that personas should focus on job titles or roles. Many believe that the terms “buyer’s journey” and “buyer persona” are synonymous. These are all common misconceptions. Let’s be clear here – buyer personas are not roles, market segments, or the actual buyer’s journey.
Instead, buyer personas are meant to gain insights from situations and scenarios. They help you better understand your customers in a human-centric way. Their goal is not to profile, but to uncover behaviors.
Demographics vs. Personas
Market research reveals information about the people who will likely purchase your products or services. For instance, one customer type might fill the following framework:
- 25-35 years old
These are useful facts that you need to know. However, persona development provides a deeper level of understanding that allows you to truly speak to your target customer.
An effective interview with a customer that fits the description may also reveal that she:
- Doesn’t own a car, so the ability to make online purchases is important to her
- Has disposable income but still likes getting a good deal
- Uses her smartphone more than her laptop
- Would rather interact by email than by phone
- Uses social media to stay current on trends
In short, demographics include basic information about a person. However, buyer personas dig deeper and provide insight into the personality of a buyer. Personas help you focus on what makes your prospects who they are as an individual. They also help identify what drives them to interact with your business.
Job titles vs. Personas
Job titles differ from personas in that they’re contingent on specific relationships with a product, industry, or company.
It’s easy to simply write someone off as a CEO or CFO and assume that he or she is inherently different based on these job categories. While this may be true if you’re selling financial software, it may be irrelevant if you’re a services company where the primary buyer is the HR team and the executives control the budget.
Numerous professions and jobs share similar goals, habits, or personalities. These characteristics make them one persona for a specific company. Let’s revisit the situation above in order to illustrate this point. Since an executive can be a financial sponsor, and because executives often have shared strategic goals and vision, it makes sense to merge these roles into an overarching “executive” persona.