A generalized, fictitious representation of your ideal consumers. That’s the definition of a buyer persona. Whether that be Entrepreneur Eric, Business Owner Betty, or Farmer Fred, buyer personas help us with all facets of the companies we run. Marketing, sales, products and services use buyer personas to assist in internalizing the ideal consumer we try to attract and they help us be more relate-able in our interactions with the real consumers. Having a strong understanding of your buyer persona will benefit you in content driven interactions including sales, product development and really whatever your company may do to acquiring customers and retaining them in the long haul. But how detailed do they need to be in order to achieve all of this information above?
You may ask yourself “but how do I create my buyer persona?” or “How do I know what all to include when I make my buyer persona?”. The great news is that you can find some awesome information on how to create a detailed buyer persona online by downloading this template for creating buyer personas. By using this guide, it’s a quick and easy way to have a complete, well thought out buyer persona to share with your company to help get your teams moving in the right direction for creating content!
There is some information you will need for creating buyer personas before you start. Like we said before, creating a buyer persona is great for helping your company understand your customers (current and potential) better. Ask yourself: do you know your current consumer bases interest? What are their concerns about your services? Do you know the typical background of your ideal buyer? These questions are critical in understanding how to construct your buyer personas.
A great way to get that information is by getting insights from the customers that consume your content on a regular basis. You can extract that information from them by conducting surveys, interviews and questionnaires. A good rule of thumb for personas is to use them strategically at the beginning by starting small. Smaller companies will only need 1-2 buyer personas in order to get a good feel for the content they need to produce. Eventually, larger companies may need as many as 10-20 buyer personas. There will always be time to develop more if your company needs them.
Is there a such thing as a “negative buyer persona”? There is, and it’s called an “exclusionary” buyer persona. An exclusionary buyer persona is meant to represent a consumer you wouldn’t want as a customer. If you take the time to create exclusionary buyer personas, you can weed out a good segment of ill fitting leads from your contact list. By doing this, you also have the additional advantage of helping you have a lower cost per lead and cost per customer, which benefits sales productivity.
When using a buyer persona in marketing at the base level, developing the persona allows you to create content that appeals to your target audience. It also enables you to personalize your marketing for different segments of your audience. An example might be that instead of sending the same lead nurturing emails to everyone in your database, you can segment buyer persona and tailor your messaging according to what you know about those different personas.
Additionally, when you combine the buyer personas with the life cycle stage (how far along someone is in your sales cycle), it will allow you to map out and create highly targeted content for your consumers. Check out the guide on Content Mapping for more information on buyer persona life cycle stages.
When you create a buyer persona, there are some things to consider that will help you reach out to your target audience. By looking through your contacts database, you can uncover trends on how your customers find and consume your content. Use form fields when creating forms for your website. By creating form fields that capture important information about personas, you can narrow down the results to fit the specific target demographic you’re looking for. An example might be to ask in one of the form fields on how large the companies are that take your surveys. This will help narrow down what your general buyer personas company size might be.
Consider your sales teams feedback on leads that they interact with the most. What can they determine from interacting with different types of customers on a daily basis? Most sales people should end up with a few common denominators in their results.
If you interview customers and prospects, either in person or over the phone, you can determine what they like most about your products or services. This step is big because it helps you get a personalized answer instead of a generalized answer you may get if you used a questionnaire. How do you know when to find an interviewee, though?
Conducting interviews will help you find our target audience, but interviewing your entire customer base might be time consuming and inefficient to your persona creation process. There are a few things that may help you whittle down this process more. Existing customers are a good source of opinions, but if you’re going to pick from someone who has an experience with you, it’s best to gather information from “good” and bad customers. By reaching out to both sides, you should get a good feel for what you are providing, and a good feel for what you aren’t providing as well.
Unhappy customers will help show you other patterns that happy customers wouldn’t necessarily notice. For example, the customer that had a negative experience may have had a larger team and therefore needed a collaborative effort on the product they needed, rather than a one on one element. Or they may have had a bad experience with your products ease of use.
Prospective customers and referrals may also be a great source of information for finding what else you can include in your buyer persona. Prospects are a great source because you can potentially accomplish two separate tasks in one. Since prospects are contacts already stored in your CRM, you can have follow up conversations with them by having them complete a quick interview that will help set your persona. Referrals are helpful to persona building since they will generally have a neutral and fresh opinion to your product. Referrals can cover a wide range of areas that you hadn’t considered your target demographic to be in necessarily.
With all this information at hand, your buyer persona should start to look a little more like you and your company should start seeing results that you hadn’t seen before. Buyer persona building may sound like a tedious task, but it can be extraordinarily beneficial to your content. By understanding your consumers, you have a better understanding of what makes them happy, so get out there and start building!