When you're creating your marketing materials, do you know for whom you are creating them? Your audience should be a defined group - or groups - of people. These are commonly called "buyer personas." HubSpot defined this term as “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.”
The concept behind buyer personas is simple: a persona is a defined audience member where you have identified the persona's role, concerns, questions, and search patterns. Basically, the concept shows how your “perfect customer” would behave if he or she existed and made buying decisions. A buyer persona is an imperative part of your marketing strategy—the secret sauce as you put together a recipe for success.
Why are Buyer Personas Important in the Inbound Methodology?
The concept of the buyer persona is a fundamental to the inbound methodology. As such, there are three distinct reasons why you may want to consider utilizing this strategy.
1. Improve Smarketing Alignment
Buyer personas improve alignment across the entire company by explicitly spelling out the behaviors, goals, motivations, pain points, and demographics of the audience you are striving to reach. This is especially beneficial for alignment in your sales and marketing team. Infor found that companies with strong sales and marketing alignment (smarketing) achieve 20% annual growth rate. Companies with poor sales and marketing alignment have a 4% revenue decline.
2. Guide Content Creation
Personas provide a foundation and structure for carrying out all of your content creation efforts. One example could be, how are you addressing common pain points of your prospects or customers? Are they all asking the same questions or are some people more worried about quality vs. price vs. delievery... etc. Are you addressing them the same way when you market? Personas allow you to categorize these people and segment their issues to customize the content they want. Then you can create targeted, relevant content for each of them.
3. Recognize Qualified (and Unqualified) Leads
Well-defined buyer personas make it possible to attract and close valuable, qualified customers. By identifying who your ideal customers are through creating buyer personas, you and your sales team can better understand and recognize an ideal potential customer - a qualified lead - when that person approaches your business. How much more efficient will your sales team be if they're not chasing each and every lead - but just the ones that are most likely to be a great fit for your company?
So How Do You Create Buyer Personas?
The essence of a buyer persona, and what makes it such a useful tool is that a persona is based on your current customers—and on facts.
First, research. Talk to your current clients, prospects and others in the industry as you build each aspect of your persona—this helps you assure that you are creating a persona that properly represents your brand’s customer base. Some of the essential elements to include about your personas are their:
- name ("Marketing Mike," "Management Mary," and other pseudonyms help set the persona up)
- demographics (age, income, education)
Second, write it down. To have smarketing alignment in your company, everyone needs to be on the same page, reaching toward the same goals - and the same ideal customers. These ideal customers are who your buyer personas represent.
Third, test. Test your current customer base against your buyer persona(s) - do they look similar? Would one of your current customers be a clear fit if measured against the representative persona you've created? If not, redo it - fix the persona so that it's clearer who you're targeting. This important step helps a true potential customer be recognizable.
Each persona will be different; use these elements and expand on them to create the ideal persona for your ultimate goal - your ideal buyer or customer.
Here's an Example: Persona for New Home Buyers Henry & Catherine
Name: New Home Buyers Henry & Catherine
Role: Henry and Catherine are looking to build a home. They're currently researching options for a new build.
Demographic information: Henry and Catherine are aged 25-35. They're married with solid jobs, making $75K-$100K combined annually. They live in the midwest United States. Both are college-educated, and may pursue a masters degree at some point in the future. They don't have kids yet, but are planning a family in the near future, as well. They do have two dogs that they've rescued.
Budget: They can afford a total cost (including land) of $250K-$300K per year. They've saved up a sizable downpayment.
Goals: Henry and Catherine are looking for a customized home that meets their needs. They want a good value and a solidly-constructed home; they are looking for quality. They want to work closely with the builder throughout the process so they can learn and understand the entire home and its structure. They want to trust that their builder understands them and their needs for a home.
Concerns: They are afraid of being taken advantage of in the process because they don't have experience. They are also concerned that the process will take too long; they're renting or own a small starter home right now so are on a specific timeline. Going over budget is also a concern - they want assurance that any overages will be approved by them before it's too late to prevent them.
Media use: Henry and Catherine use online resources for all of their research; they prefer to only talk to experts once they understand more fully what they're getting into. They are attached to their smartphones. They frequent Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Reddit for social media and additional learning. LinkedIn is where they go to educate themselves for their careers.
How Can Buyer Personas Improve Your Business?
So now that you understand that buyer personas are integral details to consider for your marketing campaign—How does it affect your bottom line? The personalization allows you to provide answers to complex problems. Each type of buyer is different and these personas help you in a number of ways:
- create improved content marketing
- achieve new customer acquisition growth
- allocate marketing resources based on types of personas
Overall it’s a customer-centric communication method. You are no longer just shouting at the top of your lungs hoping someone will hear; instead, you are sending messages out to people who are actively seeking out the information you are providing. That's what the inbound methodology is all about. The best way to get a good response to your marketing campaigns is to market to the right people. Buyer personas make this possible.
If you have ever worked with buyer personas, you may have been tempted to laugh at "Home Buyer Henry and Catherine," "Marketing Mike" or "Management Mary." However, these faux customers are the key to determining how real "Henry and Catherine, researching for their home-building," “Mike, in marketing” and “Mary, the manager who makes decisions” would respond to your brand. When you get these faux folks under control, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to handle the real Henry, Catherine, Mike and Mary, too.