It’s essential marketing 101: know your customer. If you’re already well-established, you have a wealth of analytics to help you define who your current audience is, which can then help you target similar users or narrower, niche subsets. If you’re just getting started, you need to be clear on who your target audience may be so that you can tailor your campaigns to it. In both scenarios, creating comprehensive buyer personas is crucial.
What is a Buyer Persona?
Much more than a simple profile of the audience you want to reach or influence, effective buyer personas tell you what prospective leads are thinking and doing as they search for a solution, be it a product or a service, to a problem they have. Actionable buyer personas are not your audience as you define it, but are constructed from the real words of real people who are looking to your company to meet their need. They reflect each user’s unique attitudes and criteria, which then gives you valuable insight into what your audience is thinking. That, in turn, allows you to align your marketing choices with your buyer’s expectations.
To best understand what a buyer persona is, it helps to have a solid understanding of what attributes define such personas. The Buyer Persona Institute provides the well-known 5 Rings of Buying Insight for Buyer Personas, a great guide that will help you effectively pin down your own buyer personas, especially when it comes to creating content.
How to Use a Buyer Persona in Marketing
You may cry “But, I want everyone to buy my product!” It’s an admirable goal, but unrealistic at best, and a waste of precious time and money at worst. Even the biggest brands out there today have their niche audiences.
When it comes to content marketing, buyer personas are critical if you want to connect and engage with your targeted audiences at a personalized level. In order to succeed, your brand must speak to each specific person. There is no one clear-cut solution, as each buyer persona may be drawn to different content that will influence them in their buying decisions. Examples of content that can be used might include:
- Brand awareness content that will help your targeted buyer personas understand not only your brand, but the products and services you offer and how they will enrich their lives
- Educational content that establishes you as an authority and informs your targeted audiences about the varying aspects of your products or services
- Content for promotion of your products and services that also encourages sales, which is necessary to convince your targeted audience that what you offer is exactly what they need
How to Develop Buyer Personas
Before fleshing out your buyer personas, you’ll need to calculate how many general target customers you already have, or hope to have. Once identified, you can then start to use certain demographics to fully form your personas. Those identifying traits may include things such as age, gender, profession, education, income and online search and shopping habits. Remember, a truly effective persona will be based on data, not guesswork or assumptions. One of the best ways to do this is through online surveys, and if possible, follow-up interviews. While it’s important to understand those buyers who have already made a purchase, it’s at least equally important to understand those who haven’t. Identifying where in the cycle you lost the non-buyer is crucial to building your base.
It’s easy to think only in terms of your potential customer, but if you take the time to also create negative buyer personas, you’ll gain the advantage of weeding out the people who won’t be your customers. Understanding who you don’t want to target is just as important as who you do, because it will help you realize a lower cost-per-lead and increase your sales productivity. In other words, to get to your optimal target group you need to recognize who doesn’t belong there.
When you’re ready to begin creating your buyer personas, the good people over at Hubspot have a great buyer persona template you can use, as well as a handy buyer persona word doc generator. Happy targeting!