Welcome back to our series on inbound marketing for beginners. Last post we discussed the importance of buyer personas and their role in inbound marketing. Today we are going to delve into the nitty gritty of how to create B2B buyer personas.
A buyer persona is a fictional character that represents your ideal prospect. It is not a customer profile, although it usually contains some demographic information. It is an in-depth composite of characteristics, behaviors and motivations of your ideal customer. By following the steps below you can create a buyer persona that will help you understand the motivating beliefs, fears and secret desires that influence your customer’s buying decisions.
Create Your Questions
Your first step is to identify questions that will help you develop your perfect persona. Don’t let this step overwhelm you.
- What is their role in the company?
- What does a typical day look like for them and what skills are required to do their job?
- What are your persona’s goals, what are they responsible for and what does it mean to them personally to be successful?
- What challenges do they face?
- What are their pain points and most common objections?
- Where do they hang out online and what publications and/or blogs are they reading?
And don’t forget to get personal background as well:
- What’s their median age, marital status?
- Do they have children?
- What are their shopping preferences?
These questions are just a jumping off point. Don’t be afraid to tailor your questions to meet your company’s needs. What works for one company, won’t necessarily work for another. A successful buyer persona will have questions that give you a global perspective.
Once you have determined your list of questions, you have to decide what research you’ll use to get those questions answered. Don’t make the mistake of attempting to fill in the blanks on your own. To create a valid persona you must do research.
Research can be done a few ways:
- Current customer interviews
- Current customer surveys
- Discussions with co-workers who interact with your customers on a daily basis
What if you are just starting out and don’t have a customer database?
- Search for your keywords on various social networks.
- Check out the comments section on key industry blogs – what are people talking about?
- If all else fails, ask questions on social media.
So how many people should you talk to? Well, as many as it takes to begin seeing a trend.
A quick word of warning here. Whomever you interview there is one cardinal rule: Don’t try to sell to them while they are assisting you.
Compile Your Data
You’ve created your questions, interviewed your customers, so what’s next? You guessed it. Compile your data.
Enter your information into an excel spreadsheet, Google docs or your favorite data entry format and begin looking for trends. Once these trends emerge you will have your framework for your buyer persona.
You will probably find that you have more than one persona emerging. To begin, focus on just one persona, this way you can maximize your time and efforts.
So which persona do you choose if you have more than one? The answer is simple, it’s up to you. You have to decide what’s important to your business. Usually, it’s the persona that brings in the most revenue. However, if you go back to your company goal that will help you make your final decision.
What Should A Persona Look Like?
First and foremost, your buyer persona is neither a fact sheet, nor a list. It is a story. Use a format that your team will find easiest to use.
Whatever the format, we recommend you create a 5 chapter story for your buyer:
- Job and demographic info
- Describe a day in their life
- What are their challenges and pain points?
- Where do they go for information?
- Common objections to products and services
Finally give your buyer persona a catchy name (for example, “Marketing Mary”: it may sound silly, but it works). A photo also helps enrich the final product. Make sure you don’t use an actual customer. Instead try a stock photo that coincides with your persona’s profile.
Now that you know who your potential customers are, what they are looking for, where they’ll be, why they need you, and what their biggest concerns are, you can create content that is directed right to them, from site pages to blog posts to offers and social media posts.