Great marketing begins when you have a solid understanding of who you are trying to attract. Buyer personas have arguably become the foundation of any digital marketing, content marketing, and inbound marketing strategy. It stands to reason that the more information you have about your ideal customers and clients, the better you can craft your marketing strategy and messaging to serve them. Building out your buyer personas... and yes, you will have more than just one or even two... takes time and effort. You need to do your homework and that includes in-depth research, surveys, and interviews, not guesses and assumptions.
But, when working with business owners, I've noticed that I often get a lot of push-back. I hear things like: “Why are we spending time on this?” or “I’ve owned this company for 25 years; don’t you think I know who my customers are?” Ask a dentist who his ideal client is and he’ll tell you someone who needs their teeth cleaned. Ask an interior designer, and she’ll say it’s someone who wants help decorating a room. And, ask a plumber, and he’ll tell you it's someone with a clogged toilet. These are very vague, broad business descriptions that anyone can tell you. What is missing is the personal connection that is so integral to a successful marketing strategy… a real understanding of the who, what, where, when, why, and how of your potential customer or client.
What is a buyer persona?
A buyer persona is a composite sketch of a real ideal customer that will help you visualize their wants, needs, pain points, goals and, most importantly, how you and your business can help them solve a problem. Each buyer persona will help you develop a marketing strategy that engages a potential customer or client with the appropriate information that they are seeking. Use your company’s best customers as a starting point. Your goal is to flesh out a strong understanding of who each ideal client or persona is. Once you’ve developed a solid understanding of who you're selling to, your business can effectively use the right tactics and activities to engage these prospective customers who are researching the goods and services you provide and looking for information and help. Remember, you can’t start developing a marketing strategy until you do your research and understand who you're trying to attract. At a minimum, you need to be able to understand the following about each buyer persona.
- Demographic information…how old is your ideal client, married or single, children, education, occupation, salary range, where do they live, own or rent, hobbies and other activities in which they participate...?
- What are these potential clients’ goals, challenges, wants, needs and pain points?
- Where do they get their information from?
- Who influences your ideal customers’ content consumption?
- What topics are they interested in reading and learning about and why?
- How often are they looking online for relevant information?
- What kind of help do they need that your goods or services provide?
- When is your ideal client most likely to do their research?
- At what point in the process are they most likely to contact your business?
- What latest trends or news will affect your potential customer?
- What content formats interest them…blogs, videos, eBooks, infographics, memes, etc.?
- Which social media platforms or channels do they use to get online information…Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, forums, business sites, etc.?
It's important to remember that the Internet is filled with potential customers and clients looking for answers to their questions and tons and tons of helpful content out there that might address these concerns. It you don’t know who you’re speaking to and how and when they want to hear it, you can post content until the end of time and accomplish very little.
What are the benefits of creating buyer personas?
The majority of consumers, today, are doing their research for goods and services online. The decision making process is well underway before they ever pick up the phone or visit your company. Valuable, relevant content is the best opportunity you have to introduce yourself, engage, build trust and credibility, and show expertise and knowledge to prospective customers. Businesses that understand the benefits of identifying and creating quality buyer personas will leapfrog over the competition and leave them in the digital dust.
So what does a fully realized buyer persona add to your marketing strategy?
- Gives you a framework to have informed discussions about who your customers are, their attributes, motivations, challenges, behaviors and concerns.
- Puts everyone in your company on the same page when it comes to messaging and communication with potential customers.
- Gives you the information you need to be able to make objective decisions about how to craft your marketing message.
- Adds the right focus to your marketing strategy and messaging.
- Takes raw information and data and puts a human face on it.
- Enables you to create compelling and engaging messaging targeted to specific potential customers that speaks directly to their wants, needs, challenges, goals, and concerns.
- Helps you understand your prospective customer’s pain points, customize your messaging, and be better prepared to overcome potential objections.
- Helps you decide which platforms and media you should use to broadcast your message to reach prospective customers and clients.
- Allows you to speak to potential clients about their pain points in language they’ll understand.
- Helps you understand your ideal customers' buying behaviors.
- Gives insight into how to encourage interaction with your business.
- Enables your company to segment your marketing campaigns and send personalized, targeted content to the right potential customers at the right time.
- Allows you to develop the most effective marketing strategy based on how prospective clients are most likely to act.
- Lets you tailor your messaging to get the best possible response from potential customers at every point of the buying cycle.
- Enables your business to identify “negative” personas…customers you are NOT targeting, so that you don’t spend time and resources chasing down the wrong leads.
Remember to be human!
Marketing success depends on how well a business can target and build relationships with the right prospects. Strong, fully realized buyer personas will help you develop messaging and content that differentiates your company from your competitors. Be original. Be authentic. And most importantly, be human. Remember, you're marketing to potential customers, not the search engines. Great content, targeted to your ideal client, is the best formula to engage prospective customers who will then engage with you and your business. Buyer personas are the foundation for any company that relies on client acquisition and retention…which, of course, is every business.
Located in McLean, Virginia, just minutes from Washington, DC, Bethesda, MD, and all of Northern Virginia (NoVA) we have been helping businesses locally, and across the U.S., leverage digital marketing since 2003. Our mission is to help our clients grow their revenue and brand awareness with strategies that integrate outstanding websites, valuable content, a strong social media presence, and state of the art advertising and promotion.
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