“Buyer personas are examples of the real buyers who influence or make decisions about the products, services, or solutions you market. They are a tool that builds confidence in strategies to persuade buyers to choose you rather than a competitor or the status quo.” – Adele Revella, “What Is a Buyer Persona?“
I’ve recently completed a lengthy persona project. The initiative involved quite a few (seemingly) unnecessarily long discussions covering such mundane details as where our fictitious people went to college, live, and what they do in their spare time. However, after going through the process and seeing the finished product, I’m looking forward to doing it again and going even deeper into the minutia next time. If you haven’t yet created buyer personas at your organization, don’t wait any longer.
Many companies take a one-size-fits-all approach with marketing messaging, sales/lead campaigns, and communication with internal teams. This approach doesn’t consider the various needs and differing user experiences of the people that are engaging with your product. The key to success is taking a tailored approach when defining and interacting with your target audience.
Developing buyer personas is a great way to go from one-to-many to one-to-one or one-to-few with your marketing. This type of project should be a cross-departmental initiative involving marketing, product, sales, service, and any other teams that touch your customers.
Our project began by conducting research into understanding the critical elements of building successful personas. We then defined and prioritized the personas that we needed to focus on. Finally, we moved to planning how we would collect, aggregate, and share the new highly valuable information.
The information-gathering process, which consisted of interviews with sales team members, client services personnel, and current clients, was by far the heaviest lifting done during the project. However, this portion was also the most valuable. The data collected during this stage allowed us to truly understand the various personas that we engage with.
After completing the analysis of our data, we then developed “model” individuals made up of the attributes that aligned with our target personas and even game them full names. These new models were then put into shareable formats including PowerPoint, life-size banners, and one-sheets. We also presented and shared our newly created personas with the organization.
Here are five reasons we have benefited from personas and how they can also provide value to your organization.
1. Organizational Alignment
How can you align within your organization if you don’t share the same definition of who your target customer is? By building and utilizing personas, you give everyone a common definition of the target and will even find the persona name being referenced during internal meetings to get everyone on the same page.
2. Content Strategy
What message will attract your audience and which content will keep them engaged? Creating the right message and delivering it to the right person demands that you know who you are talking to. Without personas it is difficult to target your audience with precision. Personas should shape the content you produce, giving you the ability to generate specific pieces based on the person that you need to engage and generate a need for your products.
3. Promotional Strategy
Where and when should you advertise? By understanding where your buyers are researching how to solve their pain points, you can effectively reach them with ads and content when it’s most relevant.
4. Sales Enablement
Is your sales channel ready to engage with decision makers, influencers, and end users about their specific needs and goals? Understanding who you’re talking to before picking up the phone or entering the meeting is critical to the success of the sale. Customers want to know that you understand them and their business. Personas provide the foundation for all sales people to go in with a baseline understanding of their audience.
5. Product Development
How can you preemptively address your customers’ pain points and objectives if you don’t have a clear understanding of who they are? Personas provide a clear definition of your target customer that can be shared with your product team, giving them additional knowledge for planning and development.
As marketers, we are tasked with knowing our buyers and creating an environment in which they view our organizations and our people as trusted advisors. In B2B, people buy from people, not companies. In B2C, sometimes people buy just based on brands but they’re still looking for a personal connection. Knowing your buyer and speaking their language from the first interaction to the final sale will ensure you come out on top.
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