Today’s post is the second in our series about buyer personas. (if you missed last week’s post, read it here.) Creating marketing personas is one of the most overlooked exercises in inbound marketing, probably because it takes quite a bit of effort and thought; but that’s no excuse to skip this essential activity. Since inbound marketing is designed to strong>attract customers, you need to attract the right ones, the ones who will buy. Your customer personas tell you who these right prospects are, and how to reach them.
Create Your Buyer Persona Thoughtfully
Developing buyer personas requires thought, consideration and time — it is not a slap-dash exercise. It is also not something you can do in a vacuum.Don’t try creating customer personas out of thin air — don’t make the mistake of thinking you already know what your ideal customer is like. If your salespeople have a pretty good understanding of customer behavior, get their input, but don’t rely solely on their insights. The only way to really know your ideal customer is to get to know the real people who interact with your business.
4 Principles to Follow
Start with these 4 principles to help you gain real insight in your persona development:
- DON’T MAKE IT UP. You may think you know why someone did or did not buy from you, but unless you talk to them, you can’t really know. It would be like a psychiatrist prescribing schizophrenia medication for a patient who seems to be acting like a raving maniac, when the patient is simply upset over something his wife said at breakfast.
- CONDUCT INTERVIEWS of some of your customers, recent prospects who didn’t buy, and those who aren’t your customers yet but you’d like them to be. Get the information that gives you true insight into your customer. Ask those you interview questions that get to the heart of their buying behavior. Frame your questions so you don’t lead them to the answers you think you want, but rather, let them lead you to the real answers – the ones that work for them. You will get more revealing answers if you don’t rely on a script. Have a few questions as a starting point, but let their answers direct the conversation.
- FOCUS ON BEHAVIORS, CHALLENGES AND MOTIVATIONS, not simply demographic information. Your competitors have the sam demographic information you have, so it won’t provide you with any new insights. You may end up with several different marketing personas, based on who your customers actually are or who you’re targeting them to be. Your personas will be grouped around goals, behaviors and attitudes rather than demographic data.Here’s an example of irrelevant demographic information: if you’re selling children’s toothpaste, it doesn’t really matter what your prospect does for their “job,” whether the buyer is a lawyer, secretary or dock worker. What matters is that they make the decision of wha products to buy for their children. So their role in the household is critical. Also, whether Mama or Papa does the buying is immaterial (even though it’s important in your own household). It’s only important to know what motivates him or her to buy one brand over another.
- CREATE THE RIGHT NUMBER OF PERSONAS. Most businesses don’t have more than 3 to 5 personas because, remember, they are archetypes, not customer profiles. The personas will not necessarily be aligned with your market segments. Differences in industry, job title, and company size/revenue (for B2B companies) or age, gender and family status (for B2C companies) don’t equate to different personas. Differences in HOW and WHY they buy — what tools they use to research, what criteria they use for evaluating, what challenges and objections they have — reveal more about them than any demographics ever could.
Next week we will discuss 5 areas to focus on when you are developing customer personas.