You may know your target audience very well. You know important details like company size, revenue, industry, job function and other demographics. But what you may not know is that that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to crafting a marketing message and content that makes them take notice.

That’s where buyer personas come in.

Most marketers refer to buyer personas as semi-fictional character representations of their ideal customer.

This may sound like it’s the same as your target audience, but there’s a huge difference.

Buyer personas take that target audience to a new level of detail. They personify it with a name and a face. They help you identify real people, with habits, beliefs, fears and goals that influence their behavior and drive the decisions they make.

On the surface, these details may not seem like a big deal.

But if creating content customers love is what bridges the gap between marketing campaigns that fall flat and those that inspire people to take action, then buyer personas are crucial to defining exactly who it is we’re trying to reach and what we need to do to engage them.

Buyer personas bridge the gap between content that falls flat and content that converts Click To Tweet

Here are some fundamental reasons to create buyer personas:

Buyer personas help you clarify your marketing message

Buyer personas break down the wall of your target audience and force you to remember that your customers are actual people, with interests, goals and challenges to overcome. You want to make sure that your website and every piece of content and call to action is attracting, delighting and converting your buyer personas.

Buyer personas are your customers. The more you visualize and understand your customers, the more you can speak directly to them with a marketing messages that delivers what they want.

Creating buyers personas sparks a conversation

Crafting marketing messages using the same sales speak that you use in the office is a surefire way to confuse prospects, and what’s worse, upset them.

We all can get caught in our comfort zones and slip into technical sales jargon. And most of us are comfortable using a first-person voice (“we”) instead of a second-person voice (“you”).

As a business owner, this makes sense. You better than anyone know the history, intricacies and nuances of the products you offer.

The problem is that customers don’t really care, at least not when they’re still getting to know your brand. They care about what it means to them and whether or not you can help solve their problem.

By putting a face to your ideal customer, your writing will naturally shift to a more conversational tone. You will start speaking to customers as if they were in the same room with you and be able to translate business goals into benefits that customers can easily understand.

Creating buyer personas enables you to attract the right prospects

If you’ve been blogging for a while without getting the results you need, it may be because you’re not creating content to attract the right prospects.

Will your content hit the mark some of the time? Sure. It will also miss the mark. And when you do attract the right prospects, you’ll be left without a system in place to convert them into leads and sales.

Knowing who your customers are will take the guesswork out of your inbound marketing campaign. You’ll be able to create targeted marketing campaigns that customers care about and like – with content that has the best chance of attracting your ideal customers, converting them into leads, and then nurturing that relationship until they close as customers.

Creating content without buyer personas is like shooting in the dark with blindfolds on Click To Tweet

Buyer personas deliver better quality sales leads

By creating content that attracts to the right people, you can start to form a personal connection through email marketing, which will improve the overall quality of leads you deliver to your sales team.

By understanding the needs, interests, and habits of your personas, you’ll be able to create automated email marketing campaigns that nurture prospects as they move beyond “getting to know you” and start to like and trust your brand.
Each touch point will encourage contacts to move deeper into your content. As prospects begin to evaluate products and services and move closer to a purchase decision, your content will reinforce their trust in you and keep your brand top-of-mind.

This, in turn, gives you the opportunity to generate better quality leads and create customers that are well-aligned with your firm’s goals, values and objectives.

Buyer personas inform product development

If you truly understand what your personas want, you can create great customer experiences by aligning your products with what they really want to use.

It could be a simple shift in packaging or an entirely new product that customers will respond to. Either way, the more you know who you customers are, the more you’ll be able to respond to their changing goals and challenges.

As you create products and services that respond to their evolving needs, you’ll reinforce their loyalty to your brand and be able to retain them as long-term customers.

Creating buyer personas helps you identify where your ideal customers hang out

Creating content and messaging that resonates with your customers is one step toward achieving inbound marketing success.

Knowing how to reach them is another key step. Personas give you insight into more than the pain points and challenges of your ideal customer. You’ll also know where they’re likely to spend time and get information online.

You can be more efficient with your marketing by putting resources into the channels that they’re already visiting.
If your persona spends most of their time on LinkedIn, you can explore using the publishing platform to share content with your connections. You can also experiment with participating in groups and even starting your own group specifically targeted to your buyer persona.

Creating buyer personas builds loyalty with customers

Buyer personas will help you create messages that put your customers first.

Potential customers will immediately sense that you care about what they care about rather than your own agenda.

Even though they may not be ready to buy today, they’ll become champions of your brand and remember you when they are ready to purchase.

Buyers personas help differentiate your brand

Positioning is about creating perceptions in the mind of customers about your brand. The goal of brand positioning is to carve out a distinctive place in the market and make sure customers have a reason to buy from you instead of a competitor.

If you want to influence the way people perceive your brand, you have to know that your products and services align with what your ideal customers actually want.

Buyers personas allow you to create a value proposition that will mean something to your ideal customers.

You’ll know where they shop, how they spend their time, obstacles they face professionally and personally, and concerns and fears they have regarding your product.

Not only will your value proposition be meaningful to ideal customers, but you’ll also differentiate yourself from other companies who aren’t using buyer personas to inform their marketing.

Unlike your competitors, your message will spark interest and curiosity instead of falling flat. You’ll evoke an emotional response and make an immediate connection with prospects.

If you want to shape the way people perceive your brand, you have to give them what they want Click To Tweet

How to Create Buyer personas

Make a list of questions you’ll ask.

All buyer personas should include some basic information as a starting point. Here is some information you’ll want to include:

  • Title
  • Age, gender
  • Company
  • Goals & challenges
  • Role at company
  • Buying habits and preferences
  • Personal background
  • How they measure success

Specific questions range from “What’s your daily routine?” to “What news sources do you read on the internet?”

These questions should be a baseline. As you evolve your personas (which you should do every 90 days or so), you can dig deeper into intricacies and details specific to your audience and industry.

Gather your research

There are a few ways to get your questions answers so you can create your buyer personas.

The most straightforward is to select a handful of contacts who fit your criteria as an ideal customer and have them fill out a survey. Six to 12 customers will give you a good benchmark.

You can also ask your sales team and other client-facing members in your organization to gather insights and feedback they have on customer needs and interests.

This way you can uncover trends related to questions or comments people have relating to your product. By looking through your contact database, you can also uncover how people find you and consume your content.

If you don’t have existing contacts or leads for your research, create a prospect profile and then spend some time on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google + to find out more about the interests and behaviors of your target audience.

You can then build your buyer personas using educated guesses to start and then once you are more informed come back and refine them.

Once you have your persona questions answered, look for trends in the responses.

What positions do they hold and what is the age range? Do most live in the suburbs or in cities? What do they enjoy doing in their spare time? How frequently do people use social media, and which ones are they most likely to interact with?

Some common themes should start to appear that you can use to develop your persona.

Use the research to build out your personas

Now that you’ve completed your research, use some common best practices to build out your personas:

  • Keep your person fictional. It should be a composite profile of all the people you interviewed.
  • Focus on one primary persona and let the others be secondary
  • Create a story from what you’ve learned that tells the “why” behind their behaviors. Use the narrative to identify common objections to your products or services and what factors influence these objections. Depending on the role they play within the organization, objections can range from budget concerns to lack of buy-in from C-level executives to a fear of becoming irrelevant in the marketplace. Whatever they are, knowing the objections will help you overcome them and address future concerns regarding your products.

Next steps and execution plan

1. Update your marketing message

First, update all marketing materials with messaging that speaks to your buyer personas. This includes everything from your website to brochures, fact sheets, and handouts and so on.

Every interaction that prospects have with your company should be tailored to your personas and consistently reinforce your new message.

Your website design in particular must immediately engage your ideal customer. Understand what your ideal customers want to know the moment they arrive at your site and what information would be most useful to them.

Prioritize your web content accordingly, and make sure your marketing message is clear and easy to read. Place the most important information in the top navigation and above the fold of the web browser so people see it without scrolling. This way they will know they’re in the right place immediately, because they’ll see that you have what they’re looking for.

2. Tailor your content to your buyer personas

Your buyers personas will be the foundation for all future marketing, blogging and content creation. Your goal with each piece of content is to address the needs and interests of the personas at each stage of the buyer’s journey.

Tailor your blog posts and premium content so that they speak to your personas. Remember that you’re building relationships and use a consistent voice and language across all content.

Keep an eye on which content is getting the most engagement and responses from your prospects. Measuring responses will give you even more insight into your ideal customer. Use this insight to tweak and refine your personas.

Based on these new insights, you may or may not need to update your messaging and content as well. Your goal with each iteration should be to close any gaps in your content, so that you speak more and more clearly and directly to your ideal customers.

Buyers personas are the foundation for all of your marketing, blogging and content creation Click To Tweet

3. Create landing pages to capture important information

For your premium content, you’ll want to drive people to a custom landing page that lets prospects know exactly what they can expect to receive by downloading the content.

The landing page will include a form to capture their information. At a bare minimum, you’ll want to grab the person’s name and email. But you can take it a step further and also capture persona information, such as job function or company size. This way you’ll be refining the buyer personas so that they more accurately reflect your target customer.

4. Get feedback from your sales team regarding leads

Stay in close contact with your sales team so you can get feedback about the inbound leads that are generated.

How many of them have sales been able to convert into customers? Are there similarities in job function, revenue or other demographics?

As you refine your buyer personas, make sure you tweak your content and marketing message so that it continues to resonate and engage the right prospects. Refining and updating your buyer personas as you receive new information will shape your inbound marketing campaigns for success.

Knowing the habits of your persona is key to reaching them when and where they are most receptive. For instance, if your buyer is most likely to check emails early in the morning or just before the end of the day, make sure you schedule your emails accordingly. If they tend to be on Facebook during lunch time, schedule your updates so they show up in news feeds at 12:30 in the afternoon.

Key Takeaways

If you jump right into content creation without using buyer personas, you’re simply placing tactics before strategy and throwing time and resources out the window.

The same way architectural drafts are used as a guide for home construction, personas must inform your inbound marketing. They’re essential to aligning your products and services with needs of your ideal customers, and to aligning everyone within your organization to meaningful  message that resonates and delights your customers.

Every 90 days or so, measure the response to your content and tweak your buyer personas accordingly. Your goal is to close the gaps where you’re losing potential customers and to continue to deliver sales qualified leads.

If you’d like us to evaluate your marketing strategy, feel free to contact us. We’ll help you shape your marketing initiatives for success.