Whatever your preferred mode of marketing communications—social, inbound, outbound, skywriting—you have a group of people you’re trying to reach. However, when you look at your database, it looks like a collection of words. A name of a person who works at this address, who can be contacted at this phone number, and who regularly checks this email address.
So, what does that mean for you? You know nothing about the type of person they are. What are their likes? Dislikes? How old are they? What kind of company do they work for and what type of work do they do there? This is the information you need to have when crafting your messages. You’re not engaging a data point…you’re engaging a person with real characteristics.
Your buyers all have differing personality traits and past experiences that make them who they are. They all consume information differently and respond on differing timelines. Your job is to reach them where they are and do so in a way that best caters to their specific needs. And that’s where buyer personas come into play.
What is the buyer persona all about? A buyer persona is a research-based profile that depicts a target customer. Buyer personas describe who your ideal customers are, what their days are like, the challenges they face and how they make decisions.
Buyer personas add a human element to what would largely remain as cold facts in your database. When you create persona profiles of typical or atypical (extreme) users, it will help you to understand patterns, which synthesizes the types of people you seek to serve.
For example, currently all you know is that Jane Smith works at ABC Company in Pleasantville, WY. She’s a faceless person that sit in your database and you email from time to time, hoping that perhaps someday she’ll respond to the contact box.
A persona allows you to think differently about how you communicate with your “Janes.” When you research your buyers, you discover that there are others like Jane. You find similar “Janes” that hold an undergraduate degree and work and live out of their home in the city with a dog. This persona mostly stays in the city to eat, drink and be entertained and prefers to walk and ride her bike to/from her destinations. Because her freelance career does not permit much disposable income or free time during the day, most purchases are made online, with pricing and convenience being the key factors.
When you use this type of specific buyer information, the next time you sit down to write an email, post a tweet, and barrel roll a message in the sky, you’re going to picture “Jane” sitting at her home office looking for solutions that are convenient. You will seek to communicate in a way that suits her needs and preferences.
Buyer personas are situated at the heart of any marketing strategy, and throughout every part of the inbound marketing process. If you can’t engage with your potential customers in a relevant and contextual manner, you will lose their trust and interest. Once you have lost someone’s trust and interest, it’s hard to get that back.
And that’s exactly why buyer personas are important. Consider Intel, who surpassed campaign benchmarks by 75 percent using newly developed buyer personas (DemandGen Report). Or Skytap, a self-service provider of cloud automation solutions, who launched a tailored persona approach that led to a 124 percent lift in sales leads.
As Hubspot’s Sam Kusinitz notes, “Buyer personas provide tremendous structure and insight for your company. A detailed buyer persona will help you determine where to focus your time, guide product development, and allow for alignment across the organization.”
Buyer personas help ensure that all activities involved in acquiring and serving your customers are tailored to the targeted buyer’s needs. That may sound straightforward, but it isn’t as simple as it sounds.
If you pay attention to the way some companies present themselves, you’ll notice that many of them start by talking about what they do – not what the customer needs. This approach puts them at odds with the way people make decisions. When people shop, they are looking for companies that value their needs and seek to personalize messaging in a way that indicates understanding. Having set buyer personas in place considers certain pain points or buying habits that differ between groups and more accurately addresses their needs.
It’s easy to see why buyer personas are important for businesses with multiple employees. But if you’re a solopreneur, or a very small business, you might be wondering why you should bother. After all, if you think you know who your customers are, wouldn’t this be a big waste of time?
The answer is no. If you want to sell or buy something, it always helps to clearly define who you’re pursuing. Really researching the needs of even just one buyer persona can drastically change the way you message and interact. Any individual or large corporation can directly benefit from creating buyer personas that are targeted to the needs of the individual.
For example, let’s say you’re a self-employed personal trainer. You have a website and a blog where you share tips and tricks for staying fit. Perhaps you find that the majority of your customers are new mothers in their 30s. Presuming this is a market you’d like to continue serving, you can now adjust your website and content to target this specific group.