Successful marketing starts with research! Any marketing agency worth its salt will develop buyer personas before they produce a single piece of content. Developing solid buyer personas is based entirely on relevant industry research. Until you understand who the customer is, creating content is a waste of time. This blog is intended to discuss the process Inalign uses to develop buyer personas for our customers.
First, what is a buyer persona?
Buyer Personas are semi-fictional characters designed to mimic behavior patterns shared by your customers. Good buyer personas will highlight pain points, universal goals, wishes, or dreams, and general demographic and biographic information.
The intent is to accurately personify your ideal customer (the person you’re trying to help with your product or service). Buyer personas are fictional representations and generalizations of your real world customers.
A buyer persona is used to define who you are trying to attract as a customer. The most basic buyer persona describes your customer's pain points and their level of understanding of a solution.
Second, why are buyer personas so important?
As mentioned above, creating content without a buyer persona in mind is a waste of valuable time and resources. Content is good, but you need a buyer persona to make your content relevant and remarkable - which is what will draw customers to your service or product.
Structuring your content around a buyer persona (and where they are in the buyer’s journey) optimizes your content to work harder and better at drawing customers in.
So, how do you build buyer personas? Persona development is a two-step process that starts with industry research.
Step 1: Interview and Research
So many times in creating Buyer Personas I've been in meetings with my customer where they talk endlessly about what their prospects and customers might be thinking.
Instead of wondering what they're thinking, and what problems they are trying to solve, just ask them!
Interview and/or survey company executives, salespeople, technical operators, and marketers. A simple survey resource for this is SurveyMonkey.com.
If you’re going to do surveys then we recommend open-ended questions without pre-defined answers. The most effective research, however, tends to come from conversations as they provide so much more context than surveys.
Oftentimes, as the discussion evolves, questions will come up that you didn’t initially anticipate. Check out this PDF from HubSpot 'Developing Personas' for good questions to start with.
Step 2: Build the Buyer Persona
Compile results, look for trends, and add to the Buyer Persona Development Worksheet (pictured below).
A few buyer persona best practices:
Focus on motives behind behaviors: ask “why” the persona is doing x, y, or z.
Keep personas fictional but still realistic (humanize them w/ a picture)
Choose a primary persona: e.g., focus on the persona that brings in the most revenue first.
Weave facts about the persona into a 5-chapter story
Remember that developing your buyer personas is only the first part of a successful marketing and sales campaign. Think of buyer personas like a keystone: they are absolutely essential for a solid campaign, but you still have to build the structure (content) around them. If your campaign is successful think about ways to improve it. If it fails, re-evaluate your personas and iterate for success!