What are buyer personas?
Buyer personas are a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on research. That's at least according to HubSpot.
Basically a "buyer persona" is a profile of your customer that you will use to figure out what topics and types of content you should create in your marketing to answer their questions.
What you shouldn't do, is base your buyer personas on guess work.
When creating your buyer persona, there is one obvious place to start - your existing customers (assuming you have some).
Speak to you customers, find out what their challenges are day-to-day, what kinds of things they worry about, what kind of content they find useful, how they like to consume content.
You might have multiple buyer personas depending on the variety of services you offer. You could have just one or two, or as many as 20 personas.
Just remember that the best profiles are created based on detailed research. For instance, when creating a marketing manager buyer persona, we split our narrative into these key areas:
We speak to people who work in specific sectors, send out questions to peers, look at LinkedIn profiles and find as much information as possible.
Next comes the imagination.
We use all this information to try and empathise with this person so can figure out their challenges, and how we can help.
How does their demographic influence their behaviour?
How does their working environment influence their beliefs about their job and the industry more broadly?
By putting ourselves in their shoes, we can build a much better narrative and begin to imagine how buyer personas will feel and interact with our marketing.
You can create great content and tell great stories in your marketing, but unless you learn how to develop buyer personas that really resonate with your audience, you risk losing their attention, or worse, their trust.
Every great story needs a couple of elements, namely a hero and a challenge that they're trying to overcome during the arc of the story.
There'll be other characters along the way, guiding the hero on their journey and ultimately succeeding.
If you've created your buyer personas properly, you'll be able to create compelling story arcs with your customers as the hero of the story, and your company as the wise old hand showing them the way.
If you can demonstrate that you understand their problems, get the issues they face and (importantly) can help them solve it, then your content will hit all the right spots and put you in a good place to nurture your lead further.
If you've not got buyer personas created and haven't taken the time to truly understand the challenges and hurdles your customers face, how can you convince them that you're the best choice to help them?
Not convinced yet on the benefits of a buyer persona.
Let's look at an experience we faced here at Six and Flow.
A business colleague asked us why their Facebook page was struggling for engagement.
The small amount of activity they saw was from staff's family, friends and peers, not the new consumers that they wanted to reach.
So, why was engagement so poor?
And what was the solution?
Well, there were a couple of reasons around the creative and targeting process, but underlying it all was a lack of understanding of their buyer personas.
They had a vague idea of their market, but they didn't have a narrative which guided all their interactions.
As a result, all their communications fell flat.
We helped them to develop a process for creating narratives, and a structure to dictate their interactions and targeting.
In short, we helped them create buyer personas that they used the guide their content and promotion and quickly saw an uptick in engagement from the people they wanted, rather than the aforementioned friends and family group.
So we've crafted our narrative and began to empathise with our buyer personas.
We can then use this information to dictate the way we communicate with our target audience. If you understand your potential buyers, you can map out the difficulties they face in their role and the goals they hold dear.
Once we have a picture of their goals and challenges, we can figure out how to create content that will help them reach their goals, or at least minimise their barriers.
We can then effectively create a narrative of the wider world in which they operate, and discuss their goals and difficulties accordingly. For example...
"Our marketing manager wants to boost the company's profits by differentiating the business from competitors. However, he is working in a saturated market which makes this difficult. This creates frustrations in his personal environment which is opening him up to the possibility of bringing in outside help."
Now we have an idea of the wider industry, we can figure out introductory, mid level and closing content.
We can then look at content themes, tone of voice and even target publications for outreach.
Finally, we use our narrative to determine when and how is best to contact our target market.
Creating a story for your target consumer helps to generate understanding and empathy in your thinking. This allows you to create a well-informed marketing strategy which is engaging for your consumer, and also aids your sales team in building engagement and rapport with prospects.
So, let's get back to storytelling and contemplating our audience. Once you understand them and can imagine a day in their life, you will gain the ability to captivate and engage your consumers.