Marketing efforts have always been aimed at a specific target market – a large group of persons with similar, generic characteristics. While a target market or target audience is a must-have for any business, focused efforts on a larger group is slowly being replaced with a focus on targeted individuals and more in-depth, detailed characteristics. And, rightly so.
The reason for this shift in focus is that a target market, as a larger, more generic group, is not seeing as many conversions and qualified leads as once experienced. Customers and online users are now needing further convincing, further motivation and reason to purchase a product, hire that service or to act on that call-to-action. Marketing efforts created and tailored for a larger target market no longer convince everyone in that particular group to become a client. Marketing efforts now need to be targeted toward smaller groups and individuals – the single customer or smaller groups within that larger target audience framework. And how do business owners and digital marketers target individuals or smaller groups effectively? Well, through getting to know them better through buyer persona research and creation.
While not a new term in the marketing world, buyer personas have somewhat been left in the shadows for some time. However, buyer personas are now stepping into the marketing light. For those business owners and marketers who have forgotten what buyer personas are, how to research them and the importance of incorporating these into marketing efforts, let us remind you.
Representations Based On Data And Research, Not Preference
While every business owner has a clear idea of who their perfect client would be, business owners are sadly imperfect in this thinking. And while we can hope for clients who bring regular business, always pay in advance and advertise us as if they were a walking billboard, we live in reality. Envisioning the perfect customer based on desire and preference is not what is considered a buyer persona – or at least the right one.
Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer based on actual research and collected data. And in true form, ‘ideal’ in this sense does not relate to the desirable characteristics as mentioned above, but rather ideal as in the perfect customer who you know will make the booking, purchase that product, hire that service. When targeted with marketing material, these ideal customers will do business with you, pretty much guaranteed, every time.
So, How Do You Get To Know The Ideal Customer?
Getting to know the ideal customer doesn’t happen in an office with team members holding hands and participating in an hour of wishful thinking. No, getting to know the ideal customer is done through the formulation of buyer personas. Making personas is not difficult. It’s about obtaining market research and customer data and guiding product development to suit your target customers’ needs and aligning your company’s offerings, processes, marketing, sales and service to these needs. Presenting this aligned information within your business as well as driving content creation, product development, sales follow up and customer acquisition and retention will help you attract those high-value visitors, leads and customers which you’ll retain.
To develop buyer personas, you need to gather information through surveys, interviews and research. This needs to be collected from different prospects, those outside your contacts database and current customers. We recommend you review your contact database as this will help you uncover trends about leads and qualified customers who make use of your offerings. In your website forms, include form fields which capture vital personal information as this will be incredibly useful. Speak with your sales team and ask them about the leads they are interacting with. They’ll be able to provide you with a great idea on the customers who are making use of your business. Then, start interviewing customers and prospects and ask them what they like, or love, about your offerings – as well as other questions.
Finding Interviewees For Researching Buyer Personas And Tips When Interviewing
Finding people to interview when establishing your buyer personas is a critical step in getting to know who your ideal customer is. So, how do you find them? Well, use your current customers and use your prospects and referrals. Making use of your network, including coworkers and social media contacts, will ensure high-quality interviews. Third-party networks also provide many people who are suitable for interviews.
Then, once you have gathered the folk to interview it’s important to do whatever you can to improve your response rates and get the answers that you seek. Always start with a simple question and then ask questions to learn more about the person. Always ask ‘why’ questions. Other question options include those pertaining to the person’s role, company, goals, challenges, personal background, shopping preference etc. Questions are changeable and tailor your questions to your audience.
While the number of interviews you need to conduct is not set in stone, the rule of thumb is that once you can predict what people are going to say, you’ve already noticed a pattern and you’ve interviewed enough people.
The Next Step After The Research Process
Now that you have the right information, you can set out creating your personas. Use this meaty, raw data and research to identify certain patterns and commonalities. With this information and data, you’ll be able to develop a minimum of one main persona. If you’ve managed to develop one, or even more, personas, share this with others in your organisation. With others in your organisation, set about developing an in-depth understanding of these personas.
Essential Details To Include In Your Buyer Personas
When creating your buyer personas, it’s important to include the following:
- Persona basic demographic information: Personal information, mannerisms
- Persona motivations: The “why” and the “how” your business can help them
- Persona concerns: What are your personas concerned about, what do they want, who are they
- Persona objectives: Objections raised by customers
- Persona Language: How do personas talk about your offerings, what pitch and vernacular does your persona resonate with? Are you speaking the same language?
- Persona name: What is your persona name and title?
- Persona interests: What are their specific needs and interests?
- Persona background: What is your ideal persona’s typical background?
- Persona lifestyle: What lifecycle or stage are they in?
Through including all the above, your buyer personas will help you understand your current and future customers a whole lot better. This means you’ll be able to tailor your product development, services, content and messages to meet the behaviour, needs and concerns of your target audience.
Important To Note When Developing Personas
It’s important to note that if you’re completely new to buyer personas, there’s no need to feel bad if you’re not able to develop 10 or 20 buyer personas. It’s perfectly normal to start small and come up one or two personas. As time continues, you can develop more buyer personas.
Another thing to remember is that you can also create negative buyer personas – representations of those you do not want as a customer. With this, you’re able to remove the ‘bad apples’ from your contact database and obtain a much lower cost-per-lead and cost-per-customer. All in all, negative buyer personas help you achieve higher sales productivity.
Now that you know of negative personas, what are the other types of buyer personas? While no setlist of universally-recognised buyer personas exists, companies do use a similar category list for their buyer personas. The type of personas and the number of personas you have depends on your target audience.
The Next Step After Development
Now that you’ve developed your buyer personas, now it’s time to use them in your marketing efforts. Now it’s time to personalise and create content and messages that appeal to your target audience. Now it’s time to throw out those same-old-same-old generic nurturing emails and replace it with tailored, highly targeted messages to different segments of your buyer personas.
For more information on buyer personas, how to develop and use them, contact us at Sandbox. We’ll be able to help you get to know your customers. Email or call our marketing experts today!