We’ve spoken about narrowing down your blog to avoid overly broad content. (How to choose a core topic, qualify your audience, and stand out.)
But today, we want to zero-in on one aspect: your audience.
We can do this through the creation of buyer personas.
The Buyer Persona Institute defines these marvelous marketing miracles as:
“Buyer personas are an example of the real person who buys, or might buy, products like the ones you market, base on what you’ve learned from direct interviews with real buyers.”
Among the many benefits to creating awesome buyer personas, a few stand out as particularly important for business owners.
Buyer personas can:
- Teach you to speak the language of your buyers.
- Improves the quality of conversations with customers.
- Unify your internal and external communication and messaging with customers.
- Give insight to buyer behavior, revealing the most cost-effective marketing strategy.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the key aspects of the process to create buyer personas. You’ll see how to use each section to formulate a buyer persona, and by the end, you’ll better understand the overall process.
Step 1: Give Your Persona A Name
What’s in a name?
Well, as Dale Carnegie said, “A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.”
Names connect us with other individuals. They bring a sense of familiarity, respect and identity. If I don’t know your name, you’re just another face in the crowd.
But if I do know your name, then you’ll stand out. Maybe I stop what I’m doing and strike up a conversation, or maybe I’ll simply acknowledge you through a wave.
Regardless, knowing your name establishes in my brain that we have a connection.
And isn’t that what marketing is all about? Creating great connections.
So, give your persona a name. Make it personal to you. It might sound silly, but it’s a way to connect with this imaginary person. Why is that important? Because the more I know about Jane, the more I’ll want to know about all my customers.
Step 2: Identify What They Do
Customer data from things like sign up forms and applications strengthen your personas. Because you’re using real data, you can take out a lot of the guess work.
Let’s meet Jane the Gym Owner.
She owns a boutique gym and wants to increase memberships this year. Problem is, she doesn’t know where to start or how to market her business. Luckily, she gains quite a bit of information about her members through the membership applications. And Jane also does a good job of personally getting to know the members.
From all that data, she can glean the following information:
- 37% of members don’t work a job
- 23% of members work in the service industry
- 32% of members are self-employed
- 8% of members fall into an “other” category
She’s a bit confused about the high number of members that don’t work a job, but she knows a lot of her members are stay-at-home moms. (So that’s probably the reason.)
Her personas aren’t quite done yet. So, she sends out customer surveys for more research.
Step 3: Understand Who They Are
Customer surveys can provide great insight into what your personas do. Let’s continue the example of Jane the Gym Owner. After reviewing her customer data, she concludes that current members typically fall into one of two categories:
- Newbie Gym Goers
- Stay-at-Home Moms
Through this research, Jane just identified two personas for her marketing efforts. She now knows how to conduct more effective customer surveys, write stronger content for her health and fitness blog, and has ideas for successful outreach campaigns.
But let’s take it a bit further.
She digs into the customer survey data a bit more and discovers even deeper insights.
- Newbie Gym Goers
- Ages 23-31
- 72% female
- Live within 5 miles of the gym
- Stay-at-Home Moms
- Ages 26-45
- Live within 10 miles of the gym
Now that she sees even more data, Jane’s marketing efforts become hyper-focused.
Most of her business comes from within 10 miles of the gym. But her Google Adwords campaigns are set to reach anyone within 30 miles. A quick adjustment later that day and she’s already honing in her marketing efforts.
Combining all the data, Jane comes up with a couple of basic personas:
- Natalie the Newbie Gym Goer
- 26-year-old female
- Lives 3 miles from the gym
- Waitresses at Jim’s BBQ on the corner
- Likes to stop by on her way home from work
- Sandie the Stay-at-Home Mom
- 39-year-old female
- Lives 9 miles from the gym
- Stays at home with the kids, and sometimes does freelance designing
- Likes to meet up with other moms at the gym on Tuesdays and Thursdays
These look great, and they’re certainly helping Jane understand her customers. But she feels like there’s still something missing. These personas provide great external information, but what about the internal goals, challenges and fears?
Great marketing reaches past the external and into the internal driving forces behind customer actions. Business owners and marketers that understand their buyers on that level will see amazing results.
Step 4: Find Out How They Think (Last Step)
Let’s go back into the struggles Jane faces to build her personas.
Things have gone really well, but now it’s time to get into the nitty gritty of customer research. She feels nervous to pry too deep into her customer’s lives.
But she did.
And the results provided some awesome insights. She was able to learn about her customers, build stronger relationships and even upsell some of her gym’s other services.
Getting into the mind of your customer is very important. You need to understand their goals, challenges and fears.
This great list from Marketing Interactions will help you gather great insight into your customer’s mind:
- What’s important to them and what’s driving the change?
- What’s impeding or speeding their need to change?
- How do they go about change?
- What do they need to know to embrace change?
- Who do they turn to for advice or information?
- What’s the value they visualize once they make a decision?
- Who do they have to sell change to in order to get it?
- What could cause the need for this change to lose priority?
Identifying their goals and challenges will help you understand where you can help. If you don’t have direct access to a customer, use your intuition. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and brainstorm what challenges, objections and fears they may face.
Do whatever you need to do to understand how your customers think. Because if you understand how they think, you’ll understand how they buy.
A Tangible Look at Our Persona
If you’ve noticed, we’ve been building a persona from the beginning of this article. Without having any tangible data about her, we’ve established a connection and brainstormed the way she would think and behave. Here’s a tangible look at our persona:
photo credit: richard calver
A webinar conducted by BrightTALK, DemandGen and Forresters revealed insightful statistics regarding buyer personas. One study showed that using buyer personas led to 2x the open rate and 5x the click-through rate in an email campaign.
How’s that for an increase in ROI?
You can also dramatically increase marketing effectiveness by taking a few moments to build these personas. It will give you insight into your customers, inspire new ways to reach them and enable you to create highly-targeted, personalized content.
Do you believe in the power of buyer personas? Leave a comment with how you plan to implement it into your marketing efforts this year.