The world of marketing is much larger than it was 15 years ago. Marketing today includes not only TV and radio spots but also all aspects of online marketing — advertising, social media and video. Sadly, too many businesses waste time and money because they fail to market to the right audience.
Creating buyer personas is the most critical step in accurate marketing. Buyer personas make it possible to target ads to specific needs, behaviors and concerns. Without this step, marketers waste their efforts and resources. Here’s how to create effective buyer personas:
Research data points and trends.
Ideally, you already have an idea of who is buying from your company and why. Your buyer personas must be detailed to be effective. That’s why research is the first step. Look at your database to discover trends on how your customers consume your content. This provides an outline of the problems your existing customers have — and how your products and services can solve them.
There are several tools that can help you identify these trends. Facebook and Twitter analytics are helpful in showing what topics and demographic information are most relevant to your business. Google Analytics can provide you with detailed information about who visits your website and what terms are being searched. At my company, we use Google Analytics to customize articles around relevant topics and questions. We pay particular attention to keywords that have a low volume of results and low to medium competition. That’s because these keywords are more specific and targeted.
You can also talk to your sales teams about the types of customers and leads they interact with. Find out what questions and problems the sales team hears consistently. What generalizations do your sales team make about the types of customers you service?
Research industry problems.
Understanding relevant industries will help marketers solve industry-specific issues. This includes understanding the laws, regulations and urgencies that your buyers face.
For a clothing boutique, this could be something as simple as understanding whether cost or style is more important to students going to prom. At my company, we discovered a new employment law trend around fair work week. These new laws created immediate compliance problems and questions for the retail and restaurant industries in specific geographic locations. This led to several new buyer personas around these needs, industries and geographic locations.
Interview customers and prospective buyers.
Interview your customers. They will tell you what problems and needs your product solved for them. If you are a B2B company, interview customers from each industry that your service. Find out what features help them the most. Ask what caused them to search for a solution and why your solution was the best fit.
Don’t forget to interview your “bad” customers or the ones who refunded or canceled shortly after their purchase. The bad customers will be able to tell you about the problems they had or the reasons your product wasn’t a good fit for them. This will help you become more specific about the types of personas that you service well. You can also use the information to improve your product and become a better fit for more customers.
Create your buyer personas.
Take the information you have gathered and start creating your buyer personas. They should be detailed and include geographic and demographic information. Know what types of companies each persona works for and what their job position is. It’s important to understand each persona’s challenges and top goals. This will allow you to better explain how you can solve those dilemmas. Understand their education level and preferred way to research and buy from a company.
For example, if one of your main buyer personas loves to read information online but wants to talk to a live person instead of an online chatbot, it is vital to understand that for your marketing process.
Continue to update buyer personas.
Revise and modify your buyer personas. We learned this when we wrote an article about new minimum wage laws. That article got over 100,000 views in only a few weeks, but we didn’t get a single inquiry on our product from all of the page visitors. We soon realized why: The article targeted everyone interested in the new minimum wage laws. This meant that instead of drawing in decision makers and researchers, we drew in the lower level employees who wanted to make sure they were getting paid enough. Our buyer personas were too broad.
After that, we modified and narrowed down our buyer personas and started creating content related to those roles. As a result, we have seen lower traffic to individual articles but an increased number of inquiries in the last two months. We will continue to modify our buyer personas on a regular basis.
Another reason for this is because buyers change over time. The world is constantly evolving and that means that the same personas you use today may not represent your buyers in five years.
Even if you have a general idea of your buyer personas, taking time now to detail out and update those personas will make your marketing more effective.