Read any article on marketing and you’ll likely run into a phrase that’s structured something like: “Tailor your message to your audience” or “you need to know your target market.” Why is this so common? It’s because it’s true. You can’t create a good marketing strategy without knowing who that strategy will affect; you’ll be flying blind. One great way to get to know your audience is with buyer personas.
Uhh... buyer persona?
Creating a buyer persona is a lot like creating a Facebook profile for a “person” that represents your ideal customer. That may have just confused things more. Here’s what Hubspot has to say on the issue: It’s a “semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.” So research your customers, then summarize your findings into one (or more) ideal customer. It’s both the qualitative and quantitative characteristics of your customers. Demographics, lifestyles, favorite TV shows. It’s all relevant.
What does it matter?
Yes, it sounds like a lot of work, but it's better than walking through the forest blindfolded (all alone, in the middle of winter... in Russia).
Bottom line: it gives your marketing direction and purpose. Once you have this profile of who your customer is, you’ll have a better idea of what they want. Then, you can give [sell] that to them. It also does these 31 good things for business.
When it comes down to it, who is easier to sell to, your best friend or a stranger? The best friend, of course. You know what your friend likes. You know what your friend doesn’t already have, and you can get it for them. Selling to a stranger is a shot in the dark. It might land, but it’s going to take more time and effort. Buyer personas help you turn every customer into a friend, making it all just a little bit easier.
Where do I start?
I’ve established that buyer personas are great. I’ve done my job, so now you’re like “I need buyer personas and I need them right now!” Great. There’s some work to be done to get them. In my (ok, Hubspot’s) definition of buyer personas, we noted that they’re built on real data.
The first step in building your own buyer personas is to do some research. Start by talking to your customers! Interview current customers and even those that never became customers. Find out why they use you or why they didn't. Ask them what they do for fun and what gets them out of bed in the morning!
Another place to gather some great info is Google, storers of all of the world’s data. Specifically, analyze your Google Analytics to find out what your audience does on your site: which pages attract them, which pages do the jump right off of? It’s a wealth of information about your customers. Here is an example of a buyer persona "worksheet" I use, listing a few of the things I look for. But create your own list of the things important to your business. You can download a blank version of this worksheet here.
Notice the image, the name and title I gave this persona. I wanted to give him a real face - something that personified him as an actual customer. Ideally, you'd use an image of a real customer if you have one so you and your staff can remember who you're working for. It doesn't hurt to post these in the office! *please note that the example above is just that, an example... these may or may not be real stats or facts.*
Just remember, things change. This isn’t a once and done process. You’ll need to go back to the well on occasion to make sure you still understand your audience. Just like you wouldn’t ignore your friends for long periods of time, your business shouldn’t ignore getting to know your customers. It makes for a much better relationship.