B2B Articles - June 21, 2016

Six Steps to Better Buyer Personas

Here’s a pop quiz.

Sitting around the marketing strategy table, a successful inbound marketing team will ask:

A. “What do we want to say?”
B. “How should we communicate our brand message?”
C. “What do our buyers want?”
D. “What are our buyers’ challenges?”
E. A and B.
F. C and D.
G. All of the above.

Only if you picked F, do you avoid getting an F on this quiz. After all, C and D reflect buyer persona knowledge and focus on the buyer's experience directly. Buyers today are in far more control of the buying process. They use the web, mobile devices, third-party research, and easily accessible information to make decisions throughout the entire buying process. It is critical for digital marketers to examine and understand what the buyer wants. Successful inbound marketing teams will build a marketing persona for each segment of the target audience.

The buyer persona is a fictional profile of the targeted buyer, based on knowledge of the current customer, existing data and analysis of industry patterns. Here are six tips to help your team build an even better buyer persona.

Buyer persona

#1 Don’t ignore the buyer persona. While it is common knowledge in inbound marketing that creating marketing profiles can drive better blogging, nurturing, and lead generation efforts, too many teams skimp on this step. With a buyer persona, though, the marketing team and its writers can better tailor content to the target audience--helping to improve lead generation and sales nurturing.

#2 Do your research. It’s time intensive, but learning about the buyer will save your team time wasted on misguided efforts. Build the persona off past, current and prospective client insights. Audit social media interactions, review LinkedIn profiles, read blog comments, and revisit other prospect and client interactions to gain a true sense of what the buyer is looking to achieve and his or her pain points. Many marketers even interview buyers to incorporate firsthand input in the profiles they develop.

#3 Be specific. Try this second pop quiz:

Which is a better buyer persona?

A. Mid-level Manager Mary wants better phone service on a tight budget.
B. Mid-level Manager Maddy works for a $12M tech service company that excels at customer support. Manager Maddy is looking to earn a decision-making role at the company by making a strategic move that boosts operational efficiency. Budget matters, but another priority is interacting efficiently with a team that is always on-the-go and needs call forwarding capabilities to insure constant sales and support contact.

Maddy’s persona could go on, and should, but ideally you were already inclined to answer B. The more specific your representation of the needs and business profile of Mary or Maddy, Matt or Mason, the better targeted your content can be. Buyer personas should contain hard facts, roles, company stats, pain points, feelings, motivations, and guiding philosophies that relate to the buying process.

#4 Consider intent. The best buyer personas examine or explore the conditions under which a purchase is made. Defining the hypothetical buyer’s motive will allow the team to write more specifically and accurately for marketing to sales.

#5 Involve the sales team. Along with all of the research a marketer can do using analytics, social media and key metrics, there is also the simple solution of walking down the hall to sales. The sales team knows your client’s pain points, challenges and behavior intimately — or they should. With their input, you can better put together a persona’s day in the life, preferences, and main questions. You’ll also be positioned to target the customer that the sales team wants to work with.

#6 Use forms wisely. Every field on a form you create can help you capture important persona information. Troll your contacts database to uncover trends to further shape your customer profiles. If your personas have different motivations for looking into artificial intelligence software, then make sure that you ask a “what challenges are you facing today” type question to help segment your prospects.

Creating buyer personas helps marketing teams build the right relationship, better understanding buying behavior, needs, reactions and triggers. By creating buyer personas, your marketing efforts can become more results-driven. With these profiles underpinning your content strategy, you’ll be better able to nurture leads through the sales funnel.

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Johnston, M.R. (2016, May 19). How to Build Buyer Personas that Build Sales. https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2016/05/build-buyer-personas/

Vaughan, P. (2015, May 28). How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for Your Business

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