A persona is a fictive representation of your current, and potential customers. By identifying them, you identify your target to aim for with your marketing communication. You want to pinpoint your message, rather than communicating several different messages all pointing in different directions. You would rather have a few hits, than a bunch that completely misses the target. That is how you win the game.
When initiating your research to create and build your buyer persona, it is crucial that you base the results on real data and facts. Not by guessing. It is all black and white. Either the presentation of your ideal customer is close, or way off target. For all of you that can relate to the game of football: you know that one shot where you aim to shoot a goal, but the shot is so off target that it turns into a throw in? That is the one we want to avoid.
So, for God’s sake, do not make your buyer persona up by guessing. Take a deep dive into your target audiences and existing customers to see if there are any similarities to take advantage of.
Go through your database to find saved information about your customers, or conduct in depth interviews with both new and long-term clients. Use digital surveys, or send out invitations to workshops with your colleagues. Disregarding of course of action, at least ask the following five questions:
1. What Does Your Persona Want to Achieve?
Does your persona have any specific goals? What is the expected results of a purchase? Does he/she wish for the product or service to solve a problem, serve a need, or just simplify to make everyday work more fun?
It all depends on you and your company’s offer. Take a minute and reflect about why your customers chose you in the first place. If you ask them, they will lead you closer towards the answer as to what they wished to achieve by choosing you.
What they wish to achieve depends on whether your company operates B2B or B2C (or both). It all comes down to the goals they have set for themselves at work, compared to their everyday life.
2. What Are Some Problems and Challenges They Face?
What type of obstacles are standing in their way? How can you help? Do they want to create efficient processes? Solve something that bothers everyday life or operations? This is where you gather all the informations regarding how your product or service helps simplify life for your customers.
There can be obvious reasons - if your product is a problem solver. There are of course less obvious reasons. Ask your customers, but do not forget to ask your colleagues. The sales staff & customer success, for example, are in contact with your customers on a daily basis, and communicate with them one-to-one. For sure, they know your customers’ challenges and problems, as well as what assistance they need. And make sure to talk to the support team, too.
At this stage, there is a lot of information that can be collected internally from within your organization. Sales, customer success and support teams communicate with customers on a daily basis, but do not forget about the receptionist as well as the developers and recruiters. They may have valuable and relevant information for you.
3. Questions That May Arise During the Buyer’s Journey?
A customer rarely goes from being unaware of a problem, to all of a sudden just buy a product or service. On the contrary, the customer makes its way along the buyer’s journey i.a. wide variety of ways. The buyer’s journey can vary in length and complexity based on the product or service.
So, what are some questions that may arise? From the starting point of unawareness, to facing a problem or challenge, through research and comparisons of similar products and different suppliers, to an actual purchase.
Do they contemplate over pros and cons of a service or product? The range of options? Price? Suppliers? A certain problem? Specific functionality?
These are not only questions that gives you the answers how to provide them the information or content that answers all their questions - but also to establish that you are communicating the right way. It is important to understand these things in order to connect the right keywords and terms with the right buyer persona - all to ensure your content appears in their search results (SERP).
4. What About Demographics?
The answers tied to this question are typically pretty straight forward. How old is your buyer persona? Is there a range? Where does he/she live? Education? Man, woman or neither? Income? Family?
The information itself is relatively easy to collect, but lays the foundation for when you create your buyer persona. Already once you have collected a little bit of information you will find it easier to imagine your buyer persona. Almost like sitting down at a table with your buyer persona sitting down in front of you, telling you who you are writing your content for.
5. Digital World Preferences?
In order to have a relevant dialog with your buyer persona (i.e. potential customers) you need to be aware of the channels they favor, where they find their information and their preferred format. What are some watering holes they often return to?
Investigate whether Facebook or LinkedIn is the preferred channel. Instagram? Pinterest?! In addition, try to identify which type of content that engages them the most. Do they prefer infographics and videos rather than long articles and boring images? Do they prefer mingling at breakfast events, or be more efficient by attending webinars?
Reimagine the person sitting in front of you telling you who they are. Now, that same person can tell you which type of content that will convert the best. The importance of not basing your buyer persona on guessed becomes more and more evident, right? Facts are king.
Buyer Personas Are Just a Small Part of the Whole
Now that you are starting to feel like you have created a buyer persona, or more, that is relatively “complete”, it is time to use him/her for your marketing. To ensure your work was not for nothing, you have to follow a clear plan. If not, you will push out content to your buyer personas that fills no purpose other than existing. You want to connect your content to your buyer personas, as well as your goals.
In which way should your buyer persona interact with your content? And how will you move them along the buyer’s journey?
For that to happen, you need a marketing plan. In many cases, the problem is not knowing where to start to create and set one of those plans. Therefore, we have put together a solid e-book, with matrices and templates, to help you help yourself. You do not need to make inbound marketing harder than it actually is.
An e-book to help you create an annual plan for your inbound marketing.
Disclamer: the e-book is currently only carried out in Swedish, but keep your eyes open -- we plan on launching an English version.