Many traditional marketing approaches are growing less effective in the midst of digital communication and social media. The growing popularity of such outlets, however, is making “word-of-mouth” as strong as ever. Inbound marketing combines the power of new technology with remarkable content to tap into this.
Effective buyer personas are the cornerstone of inbound marketing. In order to engage your target audience, build trust with potential buyers , and delight existing customers, you must first understand them. Buyer personas help your marketing and sales teams do just that.
The Anatomy of a Buyer Persona
A buyer persona is a composite picture of each slice of your market. It gives you a face, personality, and insight into the needs of your typical and ideal customers.
Buyer persona development should answer six simple questions:
1. Who are the people you designed your product or service for? Be detailed. How old are they? Are they male or female? What is their education level? Where do they live, work, and play?
2. What is your buyer persona trying to accomplish? What are their goals? This goes beyond how your product can help them, and looks for deeper desires, fears, and goals that drive everything your buyers do.
3. How does your buyer persona process information? How do they make purchases?
4. Where do your buyers spend their time? Where do they make their purchases? Where do they do their research before making a buying decision?
5. When do your buyers look for information and make purchases? When do they move through the life cycle stages of purchasing?
6. Why do your buyers move from awareness to purchasing? Why do they move from purchasing to promoting, the most critical stage for developing fully effective inbound marketing?
Give your buyer persona a name and a face. Seriously. Dig through some stock photos and have as much fun with it as your company culture allows. Make it a point that your marketing and sales teams get to know your buyer personas like family, referencing them often, maybe even putting their pictures on the wall.
[One persona, for example, could be Marketing Mary, a 25-35 year old marketing manager of a medium-sized business in the technology industry. She has a bachelors degree and an obvious Pinterest obsession, though she stays up-to-date on news through Twitter. Marketing Mary is constantly on the lookout for novel marketing approaches, and is often one of the first to jump on the bandwagon. Despite her enthusiasm and openness to new ideas, she lacks the ability to make major purchasing decisions for the company.]
As I tell our clients, your buyer personas are NOT meant to “perfectly” describe every potential customer you come across; if they do, your personas may be too broad – a “target audience” instead a of a persona. Buyers personas are ultimately meant to encourage PURPOSE and DIRECTION within every single marketing action, whether related to social media, blogging, or advertising. We advise most companies to start with only 2-4 buyer personas, then to add 1 or 2 more on a quarterly basis. Furthermore, never forget to create an “IDEAL” buyer persona. This will remind you to pursue the customers that you want, and not to settle for trouble-makers.
With the right personas, your company can build holistic digital campaigns with targeted blog and social media content that actually meets your customers’ immediate needs. The content engages your audience, building trust and value. And that trust builds momentum, as your audience finds reason to share your content – and your business – with friends and family.