Do you want to attract the most valuable visitors, leads, and customers to your website? Do you want to communicate effectively with your buyers at the time and manner in which they expect? Then you need to put a face to your ideal customer by creating rock-solid buyer personas.
Why are Buyer Personas so Important?
The number one rule of content marketing is know your buyer. But how many of us actually do? By creating buyer personas, or fictional representations of your ideal buyer, you’re able to better understand your customer, what kind of information they’re looking for, and where they search for information.
Buyer personas allow you to create targeted messages that resonate with your audience segments. By sharing your personas throughout the business, everyone from sales to customer service understands who your audience is and how to communicate with them.
Speaking to potential customers in the same language they use, on the platforms they use, and answering their questions builds trust and results in stronger lead funnels for your sales team. So before you create a single piece of content, take the time to really get to know your ideal buyer.
How to Create a Buyer Persona
1). Narrow your focus. If you’re just starting to work with personas, start with no more than three customer “types.”. Anymore than that, and you’ll be casting your net too wide. Content that tries to be all things to all people rarely works. You want to get really specific here, so that your resulting messages ring true to your buyers.
2). Once you’ve identified your three buyer personas, conduct interviews with prospects, current customers, and people you wish were your customers. The main areas of focus for your interviews should be around these core topics:
- Background / demographics - start with the basics about who they are, where they live, and what they do. If you’re a B2C business look for more personal information, while B2B companies may want to focus more on educational background.
- Company information - next up, find out about their professional life. What industry does their company operate in? What’s the size of the organization?
- Job role - now more specifically, what is their role within that organization? What responsibilities do they have? What’s their reporting structure? What are their career goals and what gets in the way of achieving them?
- Business goals - what objectives have they been tasked with achieving? How are their results measured? What are they doing to reach those goals?
- Challenges they face - what prevents them from achieving their business goals? What common objections do they hear from their own customers? The more you know about the obstacles they face, the better you can address their problems.
- Where they look for the answers to their problems - knowing where they search for information ensures that your content will get found. Do they search online, and if so, what sites? Do they rely more on advice from their peers? Are they a member of professional organizations? What social networks do they use personally and professionally?
- Buying habits - understanding the decision-making process is vital, especially in B2B businesses. Junior associates may simply be gathering information, while their seniors are looking more closely at numbers and results. You need to know whose approval is required before purchase. How do they like to communicate with vendors? What attributes (e.g. price, quality, speed) weigh heavily in their decision? What’s their timeline?
3). After you’ve conducted interviews, supplement the information you have with market research. Use any and all sources of information at your disposal to paint a complete picture of your ideal customer.
- Look for common attributes in your CRM system. Can you spot any characteristics that your best customers share (geographic location, conversion point, particular lead source, social media engagement, etc.)?
- Talk to your sales and customer service teams. These are the best sources of information in your company on current customers, and they probably have a feel for the types of leads that end up being great customers. What are the most common questions or concerns they hear?
- Monitor your customers on social media to find out what’s happening in their industries.
- Look at your competitor websites to see what they’re writing about and the language they use.
4). Download and use a buyer persona template like this one and put a face to your personas. Fill in the information you’ve gathered and give your customer a name (like, Marketing Mary or Business Owner Bob). Adding a (stock) photo will help you to visualize your customer.
5). Distribute your finalized personas to everyone in your company - in every department. Hang them up on the walls around your office watering holes. This is who you’re helping and the reason your company exists. Everyone in your organization should know who they are.
6). Things change. Be sure to go back and review your buyer personas regularly (once a year at least) to make sure you’re still in tune with the market.
Now that you’ve created buyer personas, what do you do with them? It’s time to create targeted content that addresses their pain points, answers their questions, and moves them further down the sales funnel. Every piece of content you create should speak to them using their language.
Even more specifically, make sure you:
- Add your buyer personas to your CRM and use them to segment your contacts and make sure any new contacts are segmented based on persona.
- Use your buyer’s journey to develop a content strategy that tells a cohesive story about your buyer and your product or service. Consider your persona at each stage of the buying process and make sure you answer the questions they have.
- Build content workflows around your buyer personas so that they receive the right content from you at exactly the right time.
- Promote and amplify your content through the channels that they use.