One of the key aspects of successful marketing is being aware of who your customers are- especially your dream customer. Who is the person or company you most want to work with? Or, who are you reaching out to on a daily basis, hoping to partner with in the near future? Who are you already working with, growing your relationship and nurturing their business needs?
Creating what we call “buyer personas” is a crucial part of your marketing plan. These personas are fictional characters that represent your ideal customers. Now, all companies generally have more than one ideal customer, so developing more than one persona is perfectly acceptable. When creating your buyer personas, keep in mind that these are not specific, real people. They are not a target market, either, as one market can have several personas. They are also not simply a job title, although you should be aware of the specific responsibilities in their role.
Each of your buyer personas should have the following:
1) Common behavior patterns and motives- focus on why they do things, not how.
2) Shared pain points and common obstacles they need help working through.
3) Shared goals, wishes & dreams- what they want to achieve within their respective companies.
4) General demographic and biographic information- personas are not solely defined by their job titles alone.
So, how exactly should you go about creating these personas? Well, it’s as easy as telling a story. Answer the following questions the best you can- you can also do a survey of your current customers or take the time to interview some of them. You can talk to your sales team and get a better idea of who they’re connecting with or who they want to connect with.
The questions you should focus on when creating your buyer personas are:
1) What is their demographic information?
2) What is their job and level of seniority?
3) What does a typical day in their life look like?
4) What are their pain points?
5) What do you help them solve?
6) What do they value most?
7) What are their goals?
8) Where do they go for information?
9) What experience are they looking for when seeking out your products or services?
10) What are their most common objections to your product or service?
Keep your personas fictional but realistic. Use pictures or graphics to help visualize their workspace conditions, their hobbies, their family, etc. Tell their story. Below is an example of a persona we here at Linkmedia 360 created:
Maggie in Marketing
Maggie graduated from a large university five years ago with a degree in Marketing/Sales. Newly married, she and her husband recently moved into a large metro area so their commutes to work would be shortened drastically. Maggie is way into fitness; she enjoys working out and running 5Ks. She has a very active social life, regularly attending concerts and local events, or going to happy hours and shopping with friends. Maggie’s smartphone is her lifeline and she cannot possibly live without it.
Job Role/Responsibilities and Challenges
Maggie is one of two marketing employees on staff at Company Z, her second job out of college. She is the contact person for various vendors, from digital to print advertising, and is constantly checking and responding to email. She looks practically everything up online and is an avid social media user. She gathers and analyzes data to present to her bosses, and actually enjoys checking Google Analytics and other data sources. She uses Hootsuite to schedule posts for the company’s social media sites, works on the company newsletter and collaborates with the sales department. Sometimes Maggie brings work home because there just isn’t enough time in the day for all the various projects she handles. It’s also difficult for her to accept proposals for new services due to the strict budgetary limitations set by her manager and the company’s CEO.
Values and Goals
While Maggie enjoys keeping busy, she values a partner who helps her save some precious time throughout her day. It’s important for her to work with someone who understands her industry and knows the latest in new technology. Maggie hopes to eventually move up higher in the ranks at Company Z by proving the value of her marketing efforts.
Objections to overcome
The most common objective Maggie faces when presenting new ideas to her boss is the cost of the product or service. It’s also difficult to find time with her boss to sit and hash out these new ideas and share the presentations she’s received from vendors. When they do find the time to review them together Maggie is almost always faced with objections from management, so it’s important that she’s able to prove the value of the product or service immediately.
Do you see how we used the questions above to devise a story about this fictional person? We also have two others we created: Decision-maker Dean and Traditional Tina. Developing content for our three personas is proving to be easier than we thought it would be, too. Keeping our audience in mind really helps with our brainstorming process for blog topics, social media posts, etc.
If writing a story feels intimidating to you, there are other ways to create your personas. You can develop an outline or a chart. Use more pictures with some quick descriptions. You aren’t locked into any one format; do what works for you and your company. But the bottom line is that knowing who you’d like to reach out to can be one of the easiest ways to create content for and build relationships with potential customers.
Learn more abour buyer personas in our Free Content Strategy Guide!