Fun fact, people aren't all the same. Revolutionary thinking, I know, but bear with me. They aren't the same, they have different needs and wants, different challenges and different goals. This can make defining a target audience for your marketing campaign pretty bloody difficult, all things considered. For example, if you're running a coffee shop; you might be trying to attract both the coffee-snob that drinks 18 miniature single shots of coffee a day AND the early morning tradie that would quite happily purchase coffee in wheelie-bin size if that was an option. A single piece of content is going to be hard-pressed to seem relevant to both those groups.
If you’re using content marketing to build trust and move folks closer to a sale, you need to provide content that addresses the different needs and wants of different types of prospective customers. You need to segment your prospect list based on the kinds of content and marketing channels which will be most effective with different types of customers. The question is, what’s the best way to do that?
What Are Buyer Personas?
Buyer personas are a way to pull together this information into a semi-fictional customer who reflects the needs, concerns and pain points of one of these groups of possible customers. It allows you to focus your selling efforts on each segment of your audience independently, maximising the relevance for each.
How Do I Create Buyer Personas for My Business?
Every business is different, your personas will be beautiful, original snowflakes—even to other businesses in the same industry. To do them right, they need to be created using real data from your exisiting and former customers, your staff and whatever info you have on file. This isn't something you just want to eyeball- the more accurate it is the better it will perform.
As such, here are 10 of the most important questions you should ask your customers to help define your buyer personas:
- How would you describe your personal demographics? Okay, the questions a bit of a mouthful, but it's essential info. Are they married or single? Do they have children? How much do they make, their sex, their age, their educational background, etc etc.
- What industry do you work in? The industry a persona works in can define tone, scale, language and much more.
- What’s the size of your company? While I've always heard that it's not the size, but how they use it, knowing how large scale their operations are can be important knowledge to have.
- How would you describe your role in your company? What does this persona do. Are they the boss? Where do they sit in the decision making process?
- How do you measure success in your job? If someone is responsible for marketing success and you’re a digital agency, you might have a match. If they’re a sales rep and you sell accounting software, you probably don’t. Knowing what success looks like will help you determine whether your products and services can help them achieve that success.
- What are your business goals? What do they want their business to achieve? What does success look like, in their eyes?
- What are the biggest obstacles to your success? Now we reach the real meat. Knowing obstacles is knowing Pain Points, and knowing Pain Points is how you can target your content to solve problems.
- How do you get information to help you solve problems? You need to know what marketing channels will be most effective with a given persona. Are they going to Google their questions, or turned to their social networks? Do they trust Murdoch and his news conglomerates, or do they look to their independent news options?
- How do you like to get information about products and services? If someone likes to receive promotional emails, that’s how you should communicate with them. If they prefer receiving a phone call, then I don't know- probably call them?
- Can you describe a recent purchase you made? How did they evaluate a new product or service before they purchased it? What objections did they have during the buying process? Not only do you learn how they interact with businesses currently, but what they might expect from your business.
Once you have all of this info, look to break it up into groups that are defined by specific information- something like their motivations, or their job, or their age. These are your Buyer Personas! With a little cleaning up and tweaking, you're on your way Inbound Town.
The effect that well designed personas can have on communication with your prospects cannot be understated. They sit at the core of the whole Inbound shebang, defining every piece of content or messaging that comes after them. It can be a tough process, but once you have them nailed, you have a guiding light for the rest of your marketing efforts, so it's worth putting the work in.