Buyer personas are like imaginary friends. They’re not real, but they serve a real purpose. Just as imaginary friends can offer companionship and stimulate creative thinking, buyer personas can help you significantly improve the results of your marketing efforts.
Buyer personas are profiles of the different types of customers you have. This may sound basic, but you will need time and resources to develop thorough buyer personas. Don’t worry, the payback is worth the effort. With buyer personas as your guide you can:
Create targeted content for different customer types. The more closely content is targeted to the needs of your buyer, the more effective it will be. Potential buyers will pay attention because the information is relevant to them and they are more likely to believe you understand them. That, of course, translates into being more likely to make a purchase.
Creating different content for different personas doesn’t mean you’ll have a logistical nightmare on your hands. You can often use foundational content and make small tweaks in messaging and points of emphasis to customize the information for each buyer persona. File naming conventions, color-coding, and inventory management can help you efficiently organize and distinguish your expanded library of content.
Make smarter advertising decisions. Whether you are purchasing display ads, e-newsletter ads, directory listings or other advertising, by aligning your buyer personas with the profile of an advertising channel’s audience you can make more targeted and effective media buys. You won’t waste budget or resources on the wrong audience. Be sure to work with media partners who have in-depth profiles of their audiences and the ability to target them precisely.
Segment your internal email lists. A primary source of data for building buyer personas comes from customer information in your own database. Once the personas are complete, you can use them to segment your own email lists for more targeted and relevant marketing campaigns.
Fill in marketing gaps. Many companies discover that when they create buyer personas they might come up with three or four different profiles only to discover they’ve been producing marketing campaigns and content that are only relevant to one or two of those personas. You can easily identify the gap and devote resources to better reach an under-served potential customer.
What Does a Buyer Persona Include?
Buyer personas need to strike a balance between painting a clear picture of a customer type and providing more information than is useful. A B2B buyer persona likely includes a subset of the following information, depending on what’s important to you and what information you can acquire:
- Professional title and area of responsibility
- Industry and type of company
- Day-to-day responsibilities
- Pain points and challenges
- Goals and motivations
- What the customer needs to do their job better
- How your company can help (messaging)
- Potential objections to your solutions
B2B buyer personas typically don’t include extensive demographics and lifestyle information. This type of data is more useful to the B2C markets. For example, age, gender, and personal interests are not as important to B2B marketers. You might not want to invest in that type of third-party data.
How to Create a Buyer Persona
- Start in your own database. Run reports to discover your best customers in each market segment you serve, then analyze the attributes of those customers to glean information you can use in building a buyer persona.
- Speak to sales people. Your sales team can offer a lot of anecdotal information about pain points, challenges, needs, objections and successful messaging. They’re the ones closest to customers. Rely on their expertise.
- Interview customers. Pick out a few customers in each market or product segment you sell into and request a short interview. Tell them exactly what you are working on with the goal of serving them better. There’s nothing like first-hand information from a customer to help you build accurate profiles.
- Give each buyer persona a name. This might seem silly, but it’s actually quite helpful. Attaching a name to a buyer persona helps everyone understand who these buyers are and makes them more memorable. Who won’t remember Accounting Anna, Engineer Ed or Technical Support Specialist Sam?
Final tips: create a one-page buyer persona template that makes the information easy to scan, comprehend and use. You could even make posters of your buyer personas and hang them on the walls of sales and marketing departments to remind everyone who you are targeting. Don’t forget to revisit your buyer personas once a year to make sure they are still up to date and accurate.