Imagine yourself being a seller. If you wanted to sell a computer, what would be the best way of doing it?
Well, you could drive your car and stop to the first big fancy building you will see. This building might be a retirement home or a clinic. Is it possible to sell a computer this way? Of course. You might get lucky and find an elderly that want to dive into technology or a doctor that want to be super organized. Between us if you do accomplish this, please participate in a lottery. I am sure you will be the winner. In other words, this way is certainly NOT the best strategy.
A more effective approach would be to determine which type of computer you want to sell. Do you want that to be a desktop computer or a laptop? With what characteristics and for whose needs? You have to find out where and when business and tech people hangout, so you could go and have a chat with them (with a common language that will definitely understand). To see what computer they use already, so you can recommend the one upgraded. Well, you have to do your research first.
If you want to get the best return on your marketing money, you don’t want to rely on luck. Instead, you need to know exactly who your target customer is. In marketing, we call this your buyer persona.
Terrified of ‘Buyer Personas’? Not any more!
If you are dealing with marketing you definitely have heard about buyer personas… but, what is a Buyer Persona exactly?
Buyer’s Persona Definition
The original definition established in 2002:
Buyer personas are research-based archetypal representations of who buyers are, what they are trying to accomplish, what goals drive their behavior, how they think, how they buy and why they make buying decisions.
Nowadays, we call Buyer Persona a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.
In simple words, a Buyer Persona tells you what prospective customers are thinking and doing as they weigh their options to address a problem that your company resolves.
Why you need Buyer Personas?
Developing a buyer persona results in stronger and more cost effective marketing. Once you’ve created your buyer persona profiles, you can adjust everything from the words you use on the phone to the content that’s served up on your website to ensure that prospective buyers receive the sales pitches that will be most persuasive to their personal situations.
Let’s analyze the ‘why’ a bit:
1. Conveys a strong message.
Understanding your customer’s language will help you create specific content that sends a clear message. It’s a great way to demonstrate that you’re thinking more about what they care about and provide a solution that seems tailor-made to their needs. For example, a tech person will understand best what a memory RAM is, compared to the doctor.
2. Ensures a strategic alignment.
By building and utilizing personas, you give everyone a common definition of the target and will even find the persona name being referenced during internal meetings to get everyone on the same page. For instance, when everyone at your organization is trained in the importance of using buying personas, this will ensure the strategic alignment of business priorities across your organization.
3. Protects promotion strategy.
By understanding where your buyers are researching how to solve their pain points, you can effectively reach them with ads and content when it’s most relevant. Self-service advertising platforms on social media websites like LinkedIn and Facebook allow you to create highly targeted ads for very specific demographics. If you know your buyer persona is male, age 25-35, has MBA degree, is single and loves startups and computers, you can ensure your ads appear only in front of people who fit in these criteria.
4. Helps sales enablement.
Understanding who you’re talking to before picking up the phone or entering the meeting, is critical to the success of the sale. This helps them prioritize the sales leads they receive, so they can place immediate attention on those that align best with the characteristics in your personas. Customers want to know that you understand them and their business. Personas provide the foundation for all sales people to go in, with a baseline understanding of their audience.
How to create Buyer Personas?
Buyer personas can be created through research, surveys and interviews of your target audience. That includes a mix of customers, prospects and those outside your contacts database who might align with your target audience.
To accomplish this, we will follow together a series of four steps. Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it seems. I guarantee you that the steps are easy to follow and the result will thrill you!
Step 1: Think About Your Target Audience.
Just think a moment, how would it be to segment your target audience into separate buyer personas? Piece of cake!
Are you marketing to several different industries? Perhaps you could segment your personas by industry then. Different employment levels in the same industry? Maybe your personas will be Manager Jeff, HR Julia and Sales Mike.
When you feel comfortable, you can increase or reduce the number of hypothetical buyer personas you’ve created in your mind during this step as you go through the rest of the process. So don’t worry too much yet. Ok?
Step 2: Start With What You Know.
Look through your contacts database to uncover trends about how certain leads or customers find and consume your content. Believe me, you will find treasures there.
Look at your current customers and any feedback they’ve given already –positive or negative. Comments about your customer service or the buying experience can be incredibly helpful when it comes to nailing down your buyer personas motivations.
Take also into consideration your sales team’s feedback on the leads they’re interacting with most. What generalizations can they make about the different types of customers you serve best?
Furthermore, talk to your sales representatives about the questions (more on that in a while) or objections they usually hear from customers and potential customers. Common questions can be added to your buyer personas so you’re prepared to answer them in the future.
You get the point, right? While you might not think you have a wealth of knowledge about your buyer personas, you just need to use the right resources.
Step 3: Interview customers and prospects.
This is a very –VERY– critical step for creating the right buyer personas. In order to get the right answers, you need to ask the right questions. Right? Since it is an important step (maybe the most important) of the process, we will dive a bit more into this…
How to Find Interviewees for Creating Buyer Personas?
Finding people (in general) to interview is a very important piece of the process. But how can you find those interviewees? Well, there are some sources you should tap into:
Your existing customer base is the first place you should start your interviews (as written above), for the simple reason that they have already purchased your product or service. They have already engaged with your company and at least some of them will fit your target personas.
Do not neglect to reach both good and bad customers. Interviewing both can get you with different patterns. For example, you already know what your customers like more about your product from your good customers, but you might find out that some bad customers find your product too complicated to use, so you will need to simplify its functionality.
Be sure to balance out your interviews with people who have not purchased your product/service or don’t know at all your company. Your current prospects are a great option because you already know their contact information.
If you are heading into new markets or don’t have any leads or customers yet, you will probably need to rely on some referrals. Reach out to your network, for instance co-workers, existing customers (if there are any), social media contacts or social media networks like LinkedIn. It may be tough to get a large amount of people to interview this way, but if you do, will be high-quality interviews.
Conduct Online Surveys
If you cannot talk to actual people who fit into your buyer personas there are some other places you can look into. In order to get that information, consider setting up a free online survey with SurveyMonkey or SurveyMoz . You can also choose between free and paid solutions to get the best results. It’s up to you!
How Many People Do You Need to Interview?
There is not a specific answer to this, it depends. You will have to start with 3-5 interviews for each persona you are creating (customers, prospects, people who don’t know your company).
Once you start expecting and predicting what your interviewee is going to say, that means you’ve interviewed enough people to find and categorize patterns.
What Questions to Ask in Persona Interview?
Sit down with a few members of your marketing and sales teams and write out at least 10 to 20 questions you’ll want answered for each buyer persona.
These questions can vary from the simple demographics information to what the persona is specifically looking for in a buying experience.
Here is a list of questions, provided by HubSpot:
1) What is your job role? Your title?
2) How is your job measured?
3) What does a typical day look like?
4) What skills are required to do your job?
5) What knowledge and tools do you use in your job?
6) Who do you report to? Who reports to you?
7) In which industry or industries does your company work?
8) What is the size of your company (revenue, employees)?
9) What are you responsible for?
10) What does it mean to be successful in your role?
11) What are your biggest challenges?
12) How do you learn about new information for your job?
13) What publications or blogs do you read?
14) What associations and social networks do you participate in?
15) Describe your personal demographics (if appropriate, ask their age, whether they’re married, if they have children).
16) Describe your educational background. What level of education did you complete, which schools did you attend, and what did you study?
17) Describe your career path. How did you end up where you are today?
18) How do you prefer to interact with vendors (e.g. email, phone, in person)?
19) Do you use the internet to research vendors or products? If yes, how do you search for information?
20) Describe a recent purchase. Why did you consider a purchase, what was the evaluation process, and how did you decide to purchase that product or service?
Step 4: Compile Data.
This is the fun part! Take all that data you collected, internally and externally and boil it down to a usable buyer persona.
Use your research to identify patterns and commonalities from the answers to your interview questions and develop at least one primary persona.
How to do that?
There are a lot of free templates all over the internet that can help you fill in all your information. Together we will use HubSpot’s and I will guide you through every stage of it until the final result.
Ready? Let’s start!
Fill in ‘Who’ your persona is
To proceed with this stage you’ll have to fill in the information gathered regarding your personas:
- Background (job, career path, family)
- Demographics (age, male or female, income, location)
- Identifiers (demeanor, communication preferences)
In the end you should definitely give your persona a name like IT Manager John or Jeff Founder & Director (as you can see at the example above) AND include a real-life image of your persona, so everyone can truly visualize what he or she really looks like.
Fill in ‘What’ your persona is
This is where you’ll utilize the information you learned from asking “Why” so much during those interviews. You’ll have to fill in the:
- Goals (primary, secondary goal)
- Challenges (primary, secondary challenge)
- What can we do as a company (to help our persona achieve their goal(s) and overcome their challenge(s))
Fill in the ‘Why’ your persona needs your company’s help
Include some real quotes from your interviews that exemplify what your personas are concerned about, who they are and what they want. For example “I am both a dreamer and a realist, so I feel excited but insecure about the future and direction of his startup.” or “I need information tailored to small businesses and startups.”
Then create a list of the objections they might raise so your sales team is prepared to address those during their conversations with prospects.
Fill in the ‘How’ your company will help your persona
This will help you ensure everyone in your company is speaking the same language when they’re having conversations with leads and customers.
- Marketing messaging (how should describe your solution to your persona)
- Elevator pitch (sell your solution to your persona)
Having completed all the individual stages, it’s time to put it all together. Shall we?
Inside Buyer Personas Profile
1) Semi-Fictional Character
The title is the result of the ideal customer through analyzing the most profitable and loyal customers.
You can see the typical demographics such as age, income, education and location of my persona.
4) Persona’s goals
Knowing your audience’s goals and aspirations helps you better analyze your content, product and services to help them achieve those goals.
5) Pain points & Challenges
If you can show its persona how you will be able to make his dream come true, you’re going to generate more qualified leads and new customers.
6) Information Search Process
After analyzing how the personas reacts in their day of life or in their life in general, you can be smart about when and how to contact with them.
7) Type of Experience Desired
By knowing what your personas generally expects of you once you secure their business, you’ll better be able to attract and convert new clients.
8) Common Objections
By analyzing what the common objections leads have for not signing on your services, you can better prepare a solution to counter them. This will be invaluable to your sales team.
9) Day in their Life
By thinking about what a day in the life of your persona looks like, you can better understand their challenges and motives.
10) Story Format
By writing the overview of your persona’s goals up in a story format, it is much easier for everyone in your organization to think of them and remember their story when creating content or speaking to leads and customers on the phone or in person.
That’s it! Be proud of yourself! You made it!
Your Buyer’s Persona Profile is READY!
You are able now to distribute your personas profile within the sales and marketing department of your company with pride. You did an extremely demanding but incredibly important job and the visual result should be approximately like this…
Creating a buyer’s persona profile is a smart and totally indispensable move for your marketing team to do. Although it requires some time and effort to be done effectively, certainly worth every second spent. Having a targeted audience can and will help your company’s growth and revenue at an extremely high level.
Haven’t you created your personas yet? Well, you should have started… yesterday!