What are Buyer Personas and why do we Need Them?

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Buyer personas are the foundation of the inbound marketing methodology because every piece of content you produce: from blog posts to landing pages, should be tailored to them. With thoughtful buyer personas, you will drive more leads and sales than you have before online because you will produce the right content for the person in the places that they will find your business.

What is a Buyer Persona?

A buyer persona is a research-based representation of your ideal customer that you use to understand your customers and address their needs better. Practically, you use your existing customer database, website analytics, social media followers, and third party research tools to paint a picture of who your ideal customer is. Buyer personas are distinguished based upon their relationship with your business such as by job title or role in a family, but you can create two or more personas with the same title if their behavior is substantially different and you should segment the persona further to speak to their different problems, desires, and behaviors adequately. Depending on the type of business you have and the type of customers you want to attract, your personas can be Mike the CEO, Janet the daughter, Larry the Principal, etc. Below is an example of a buyer persona of a purchasing agent:

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Examples of How Buyer Personas Change Your Marketing

Spending the time and effort to develop rock solid buyer personas has practical benefits. Imagine that you’re a senior living facility and know that daughters of your residents have tended to be the key decision-maker in where mom spends her golden years. After working on your buyer persona, you know a lot of information about her, let’s call her Debbie the Daughter. You know that Debbie typically has college-aged children who attend college a few hours away, so she or her children spend one or two weekends a month visiting each other. While you might want to test this to be sure, there is a good sporting chance that emailing, or even in terms of traditional marketing sending direct mail, to her on Saturdays.

Or you’re a commercial property manager, and one of your buyer personas is an accidental landlord having inherited commercial property from their deceased parents. This person, Ian the Inheritor, is nearing retirement and would like this property to provide consistent monthly income without too much hassle. Based on his demographics, you determine that he isn’t on any social network aside Facebook but that he exclusively uses it for family and isn’t receptive to marketing messages there. You decide to test a remarketing ads on Facebook but otherwise to focus on other online channels aside from social media for this persona.

The Questions that Good Buy Personas Answer

Without buyer personas, you’re shooting in the dark, hoping that your message will reach those that need to hear it. Instead of relying on hit-or-miss content marketing, build a firm foundation that will help you answer five fundamental questions.

  • Who? You might already have part of this answer. Maybe you know the typical gender, age, income, or company size that are most interested in your offerings, but the best buyer personas go deeper exploring their personal and professional challenges, hopes, and the day to day activities that comprise their life.
  • Where? Well-developed buyer personas will help you get qualified leads faster, because you’ll be aiming at the right people. You’ll know where to reach them according to the social media channels and online resources they use.
  • When? If you know your personas’ typical behavior, it will be easier to determine the right time to contact them, which increases your chances for success. It is possible to pick the time when they’re most likely to be open to communicating with you, if you’ve developed a detailed persona.
  • How? Same goes with the means of reaching them. If they do most of their business over the phone, schedule a call. If they prefer online communication, send them a short and sweet email.
  • Why? Finally, when you have developed a buyer persona base, you’ll know exactly why you picked this target audience out of all people.

In order to reach a potential client, you must first understand them. What challenges are they facing, and how can your product or service help them overcome those challenges? How can they benefit from your company? The better you know the needs of your targeted audience, the better are the chances to attract them, which is why it’s important to create well-researched, detailed buyer personas. If you have too little information on a buyer persona you’re making, it is better to halt the process until you know more. Don’t worry about having too few buyer personas - quality wins over quantity. Creating two to four buyer personas is a great start, and you can build more from there once you have more information.

Buyer personas are the foundation of an inbound marketing strategy that generates more leads and sales for your business. For the other pieces of the puzzle, download our Introduction to Inbound Marketing eBook.

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