How Buyer Personas Lead to the Best Marketing Campaigns
Using Buyer Personas to Create Effective Marketing Campaigns
When conceived of and used correctly, buyer personas shape and sharpen every facet of your company’s content marketing and convince and convert potential clients with laser-like intensity.
Unfortunately, many companies, thoroughly convinced of the efficacy of buyer personas, end up relying on poorly conceived personas based on guesswork and conjecture rather than real-life behavior and data.
These inferior buyer personas represent more than wasted marketing dollars and dismal marketing ROI: personas that don’t actively and effectively help companies engage with potential clients often drive targets straight to the competition with watered down, ineffective messaging.
Creating Actionable Buyer Personas
So, how can you be sure you’re creating and using actionable buyer personas that increase your marketing ROI? By insisting on data-driven, research-based methods: Real-life numbers and focused research, combined with a deep understanding of your business’ unique differentiators, will help your company avoid ineffective, fairytale representations of clients, and allow you to speak to each unique segment of your audience with targeted messaging.
When creating buyer personas for your company, use the following guidelines to help create actionable, data-driven personas:
Company Differentiators: Using interviews and surveys of customer and company employees, identify what helps your company stand head and shoulders above the competition. What do established customers say about your products and services? Do they like working with your knowledgeable, responsive sales staff? Are your products especially reliable or well-made? Put yourself in the shoes of your target clients, asking whether you would choose to work with your company. If your company doesn’t have a vision and mission statement, take the time to craft them. These meaningful, concise statements should paint a clear picture of your business and its advantages. Make sure they’re easily found on your website and don’t overgeneralize (e.g. every business says they aim to provide “great customer service.” But what exactly makes your company’s attitude towards customer service stand out? Lead with that information and set yourself apart from your competition).
Buyer Persona 101: Honest Marketing That Works!
Identify Your Target Audience(s): The vast majority of businesses, whether B2B or B2C, have more than one target audience. To identify yours, start with your current customers, then try fitting them into broad categories. For example, your company may need content and messaging that speaks to engineers (with highly technical information), purchasing agents (more concerned with price than technical specs), and company leadership (concerned with both technical information, price, and reliability).
Don’t forget to research sectors/personas you’d like to reach or markets you’d like to break into. If your company wants to expand into other countries, geographical regions, or supply additional/complementary products and services, create personas that answer their unique needs.
Research Your Target Audiences: Actionable buyer personas should be based on real-life demographics, psychological profiles, and the measurable behaviors of your target audiences. Don’t create buyer personas by guessing at the motivations, needs, and demographics of your customers and potential customers.
Customer and employee interviews are a great place to start forming a solid base for your personas. Interview a selection of current and former customers, focusing on identifying their needs and pain points. How does your product or service solve their problem better than your competition? What kinds of information do your targets need in order to make a buying decision? How much power do they hold in the buying process? How do they learn best (reading, watching, talking to a sales consultant, downloading an eBook?). Lost clients can often provide the most meaningful, actionable data for personas; if a client left, find out why and what you could have done to keep their business.
Create Targeted Content for Different Learning Styles: After identifying your target audiences, think about the kinds of information they need in order to make an informed buying decision. Do they use email or social media frequently? What social media channels do they prefer and how do they keep up on industry trends?
Would they prefer to be contacted by someone from your sales team early on, or are they better served with a downloadable eBook that answers frequently asked questions? Will a message from the CEO help them trust your brand, or are they more likely to rely on customer testimonials? Use what you learn about your targets’ learning styles and preferred methods of communication to create targeted content.
Avoid Assumptions: It’s likely you’re deeply immersed in your company’s culture, but this can lead to blind spots when identifying the needs and wants of your target audience(s). The aspect of your company you believe attracts the most clients may not be as important as you think. Conversely, there may be aspects to your company that are very important to your clients that you've never given adequate consideration (i.e. downloadable catalogs, video courses, engineering tools, price comparisons, etc.). The only way to determine what really matters to various segments of your target audience is to talk to them, then base your marketing efforts on real-life data that reflects their behavior.
While it’s true that data-driven, research-based buyer personas turbocharge marketing, poorly conceived buyer personas based on conjecture and assumptions can do serious damage to even well-meaning attempts at outreach. Unfortunately, hackneyed efforts at buyer persona creation aren’t just a waste of time and money; they can unintentionally drive prospects away with watered down, ineffective messaging that misses the marketing mark entirely.
If you’re ready to create actionable, data-driven buyer personas for your business, contact us today. We specialize in helping you identify your most important targets and then create buyer personas and content to turn them into loyal customers.