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Marketing lingo can be tough to understand. We are constantly using acronyms, slang terms, and industry-related phrases that can make things confusing.
The term “buyer persona” is often tossed around like everyone knows exactly what it is, but do they? Probably not, and that’s okay!
According to HubSpot, a buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. These personas also describe what the target customers’ days are like, the steps they take to make decisions, and the challenges they face in that decision-making process.
Not all target customers fit under one buyer persona, so it’s common to have multiple buyer personas for a business. Each individual persona will have a different set of criteria for evaluating a product which demands different strategies to approach and address those needs. A buyer persona helps businesses understand and relate to customers, so they can ultimately do a better job of serving them.
No matter what industry your company is a part of, buyer personas are the groundwork for all effective marketing strategies, and they should be utilized throughout every part of the inbound marketing process. Building trust is crucial for customers who are researching or committing to a product or service. Knowing your personas — their pain points, challenges, behaviors, and patterns — allows you to communicate with them in a way that’s authentic and on-point while offering them relevant solutions to their problems.
If you can’t engage with your customers appropriately and contextually, then there is a good chance that you won’t gain their trust or interest which makes for a rough and often unpleasant first impression.
That’s exactly why well-thought out buyer personas are so important!
Well-researched and well-defined buyer personas allow you to focus on the obstacles your prospects face and tailor the buyer’s journey to their concerns and challenges. Buyer personas inform your business of what you should be doing to help potential customers. Think of them as a compass directing your business to the ultimate destination.
Buyer personas take time, strategy, and some patience to develop. They should incorporate a combination of internal and external research to understand each layer of prospective customers.
You should be methodical in your approach and thorough in your questioning and analysis. The greater the amount of detail, the more strategic you can be in developing a buyer persona. But, you don’t have to do it all at once, start with the basics and let your personas evolve over time.
Getting started can be a little tricky, so choose a target customer or group of similar customers and build a persona based on what you already know, from there you can do more research.
You’re probably wondering what kinds of questions you should be asking. Generally, your initial questions are open-ended and will help lay the initial groundwork for a buyer persona. While there are no one-size-fits-all list, here are some common questions to help you get started.
This is where the magic happens. Here’s the part where you take each of those insights and create a fictional, but accurate representation of a specific person in the target audience that has been identified as an ideal prospect. You give the persona a name and start to build the story that will give you the best direction to reach people with marketing. Check out our examples:
Dog Shelter Persona: Lonely Liam
Lonely Liam is a single, 25-45-year-old living within 60 miles of the local shelter. He is a successful person with a generally happy lifestyle, excluding the times he gets a little lonely. Liam's goals are to stay fit and healthy while finding and maintaining companionship. A few challenges Liam faces are that he is a little nervous to commit fully to pet ownership, and he doesn’t know where to start in the pet selection process.
You can help Liam find information on pet ownership in general. You’ll also assist Liam in finding the perfect furry friend to fit his active lifestyle all while communicating the health and social benefits that come along with owning a pet.
Key identifiers for Liam include stable job, adventurous, lonely feeling, nurturing spirit, and active lifestyle.
College’s Financial Aid Persona: Mandy the Working Mom
Mandy, the working mom, is a married, 45-60-year-old who is interested in finding the best resource for information on affording her children’s college education. She is a working mom who is very proud of her children and wants to help them succeed further in their lives. Mandy’s goals are to maintain a steady income and send her kids to college with her financial backing. A few challenges Mandy faces are that she is scared she won’t have enough to pay for school, and she doesn’t know how to get started saving for further education expenses.
You can help Mandy find information on ways to afford a college education for her kids and resources to get started.
Key identifiers for Mandy include financially motivated, mother of teens, does her research, and has family-first values.
Mobile App Persona: Advocating Alex
Alex is a natural born leader who is a 18-35-year-old and motivated to lead a change in society. He wants to take action into his own hands but isn’t quite sure where he should begin. Alex has goals that include making a positive difference in the world and is looking to connect with people with ideals like him. Alex faces the challenges of getting organized and doesn’t know who to contact to spark real change.
You can help Alex create a group and assign tasks to his group members while connecting people based on social interests.
Key identifiers for Alex include passion for causes, eager to learn more, tech-savvy, and networking.
Once you have your first persona, implement it into your marketing efforts! Everything your business does or creates should link back to the buyer persona in some way, shape, or form. Use your personas to develop your content and produce targeted advertising. Use the information you discovered to filter out marketing efforts that are not targeted or relevant.
Always remember that your buyer persona document should be living and breathing. As your customers change over time, so will your buyer personas. That may mean tweaking the personas you already have or creating new ones. Be sure to keep a pulse on your customers and buyer personas.
Establishing clear buyer personas and implementing the knowledge gained in the research process will help your sales and marketing efforts align which will inevitably grow awareness and increase sales.
If you’re ready to develop buyer personas for your business, we’re here to help! Download your free digital buyer persona workbook so you can start creating your personas today.