Those who are familiar with Inbound Marketing or with the inbound marketing process have likely heard the term ‘buyer persona’ a time or two…hundred. It’s the practice of focusing inbound marketing efforts around buyer persona(s) and create content that speaks directly to your ideal, potential customers.
Are you marketing to the right people? How do you know? Long story short, when someone is searching online for something they need, a question they have, or a problem they’re experiencing, you want to be the one providing a solution or answer to that particular buyer persona. There it is again – that term ‘buyer persona’. To help you better understand how we engage in successful and intentional inbound marketing, below is a brief overview of what buyer personas are, how they’re built, and why they’re important.
The Definition of a Buyer Persona
A buyer persona is a fictional character that represents your ideal prospect, lead, or customer. Buyer personas are not customer profiles, but rather a research-based representation – although they usually contain some sort of demographic information. Buyer personas are generalized characters that are fictional, but realistic. They are most successfully utilized when they encompass goals, behavioral patterns, and needs you see in your customers. A buyer persona lays out the ins and outs of what your customers or clients are really like – their goals, challenges, pain points, common objections to products or services, personal information, demographic information, and other unique attributes.
How are Buyer Personas Created?
A buyer persona is created using thorough research to compile an in-depth mixture of the characteristics, behaviors, motivators, and inhibitors of your ideal customer. These personas are generally created with a variety of input from your team, research, interviews with a target audience, or surveys. The most in-depth buyer persona research will shed light on both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ leads alike.
When our team builds a buyer persona, we jump in and ask a number of questions about a persona’s role depending on the industry:
- What is his/her role within the organization and/or family?
- What are his/her personal and/or professional goals?
- What challenges do they deal with?
- What motivates them?
- How do they prefer to overcome challenges or pain points?
- Where do they go to gather information?
- Additional information about them as a person, including
- Marital status
- Work Experience
- Shopping preferences
- Interaction style
After we’ve answered these questions (and more) and completed the necessary research, we build a buyer persona story, complete with a name, general job title, and image. Again, these are not specific people but a general, marketable audience. The name, story, and photo help us to visualize who we are marketing to and allow us to adjust inbound marketing efforts accordingly to meet the persona’s needs and answer their questions.
Each persona is created differently depending on what demographic it taps into, but in the end creates a picture of what your ideal customer looks like, what they value, and how your product, solution, or service can fit in with their daily life or meet their needs.
Why Buyer Personas Matter
Your buyer personas help build and shape your business with your customer’s needs and best interests in mind. Once you’ve completed buyer persona(s), you and your team can better understand the motivating factors that influence your customer’s buying decisions.
HubSpot gives a great example of a practical way to use buyer personas:
“If you are a marketing manager at a hotel, you might have five buyer personas: an independent business traveler, a corporate travel manager, an event planner, a vacationing family, and a couple planning their wedding reception. When running marketing campaigns, you will need to adapt your messaging to fit the needs of these different buyer personas.”
Within inbound marketing, buyer personas are essential. They provide insight that can help marketers gain a more thorough understanding of customers, buying behaviors, and where in the buyer’s journey their leads might be. Your buyer personas can shed light on what types of questions prospects are asking, when they are asking them, and what kind of answers you can provide to better nurture them along.
Give Your Content a Purpose
Effective and successful inbound marketing builds its foundation on strong, well-written, relatable content. Buyer personas help shape the content that needs to be created to target these audiences in a powerful and purposeful way. Before writing a blog, eBook, or other offers, buyer personas help ask and answer questions like ‘What would Persona Pete ask about X?’, or ‘Does this appeal to Buyer Beth?’ Buyer personas help you focus in on who your buyers are, what they’re trying to accomplish, what goals drive their behavior, their thought process, when they’re buying, where they’re buying, how they’re buying, and more. Pretty powerful stuff, right?
Marketing efforts continually evolve as your potential buyers’ behaviors change. The shift to online research and purchases has further increased the value and importance of inbound marketing and its components. We believe the process of researching, building, and utilizing buyer personas is a necessary aspect of any marketing strategy. As David Meerman Scott, American Marketing Strategist puts it, “Buyer personas help your marketing come alive. It’s so much better than merely talking about your products or services.”
For more insights on personas, be sure to register for Connect to Convert where Bridget will lead the "Using Inbound Marketing to Reach the Right People with the Right Content at the Right Time" session. Register today!