Think about the last book you enjoyed. Maybe it one of those quick-to-read potboilers they sell at the airport. Or was it a rich historical saga, the type of thing that makes critics’ best-of-the-year list.
Both types of books connect with readers, in part because their authors tailored their work according to the audience. Wolf Hall wouldn’t be Wolf Hall if it was written like a Tom Clancy thriller, and vice versa.
Knowing your audience is essential to inbound marketing, which is why it’s important to create buyer personas.
What Is A Buyer Persona and Why Are They Important?
So what is a buyer persona? It’s a somewhat fictional version of your ideal customer, created using a mix of market research and actual information on your existing customers.
Without a buyer persona, you can’t mold your content to reach your ideal customers. Let’s say you’re a manufacturing company: you wouldn’t write a blog post for expert engineers the same way you would for first time visitors to your site.
With a buyer persona, you can focus your content and better understand your model customers.
Discovering A Buyer Persona.
To fashion a buyer persona, conduct a series of detailed interviews with existing customers to find out who they are and what makes them tick.
You should aim to create at least two buyer personas in order to launch a solid inbound marketing strategy, so that means interviewing around at least 6-10 people.
Here are a few questions you may want to ask:
- What is your role and title at work?
- How do supervisors measure your performance? Who do you report to, and who reports to you?
- Describe a typical day at work.
- What are the skills and tools do you need for your job?
- What does your company do or make?
- What are you responsible for, and what does it mean to be successful in your role?
- What are some of your biggest challenges?
- Where do you get new information about your job?
- What are some blogs or other publications you read?
- What associations are you a member of? What social networks do you use?
- Describe your career path. How did you get to where you are today?
- Describe your personal background (marital status, family, etc).
- Describe your educational background. What level of education did you complete, what subjects did you study, and where did you study them?
- What’s your favorite way to interact with vendors (in person, via e-mail, over the phone)?
- Do you use internet research to find out more about vendors or products? If you’ve said yes, how do you search for information?
- Talk to us about a recent purchase. Why did you consider it, what was the evaluation process and how did you decide to buy the product/service?
As a follow-up for these questions, consider asking “Why?” The “why” of something is always more interesting than the “who,” “what” or “where.”
You can ask someone where they went to school, but finding out why they chose that college can tell you a lot more about them.
If there are questions you didn’t feel comfortable asking during the demographic portions of the interview, you can get this information by conducting a survey online, where people may be more comfortable sharing personal details.
Creating A Buyer Persona.
Once you have the data from the interviews, look for patterns in the answers, and then use those patterns to craft your first persona.
Fill out their basic demographic information: their background, age, family information, and some identifiers. Share what you’ve learned about their goals and challenges, and what your company can do to help them achieve what they want.
Add in some real quotes from the interview to illustrate what the personas are worried about and what they want, and some of the reasons why wouldn’t want to use your product/service.
Then, talk about how you would describe your solution to this objection to the persona, and craft a quick elevator pitch to give them.
Finally, give them a name: Manufacturing Maggie, Developer Devin, Andre Analytics. (For some reason, the inbound world loves alliteration when it comes to these persona names.)
Once you’ve named your customer and given them a face – using stock photos – you’ve truly created a buyer persona.
If you’re wondering how to create buyer personas, IQnection’s market research team can help. By letting you understand who your customers are, you can better understand what they want.