- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On March 11, 2014
I’d like to talk about an important marketing topic with a very off-putting name: buyer personas.
Just about every marketing expert, book or course these days starts off with this concept but most local business owners look at me blankly when I ask if they have a buyer persona (or several).
You’re probably familiar with the concept of a target market.
A target market is thought of in terms of fairly broad characteristics–often demographic stuff like age, sex, education then you often layer on things like location, industry they work in or owning a car, etc. So you end up with a target market description resembling “my target market is women that live in Bergen County between the ages of 34 and 59 with children. These women often own an SUV and shop at supermarkets”.
OK, so this demographic description is useful. Rather than targeting your marketing to the entire world you’ve chopped down your target audience to a much smaller segment. Now you know who you are marketing to and off you go, right?
In today’s world of content marketing, websites, blogs and social media, we marketing geeks have noticed you need to go further. You need to take the description of your target market down to a more personal level.
You need to create your own fictional ideal client.
So what’s the difference and why would you want to spend your time creating this fictional person?
A buyer persona goes a couple of steps further than a target market description by asking you to think through what your ideal client experiences and how those experiences affect their needs for products and services. It’s about getting into the head of your prospect.
Hubspot’s buyer persona planning sheet asks you to consider these questions and write out the answers for your ideal client. You can grab Hubspot’s Marketer’s Guide to Creating Buyer Personas which includes these questions here.
- What is their demographic information?
- What is their job and level of seniority? (applies mostly to a business-to-business setting)
- What does a day in their life look like?
- What are their pain points?
- What do you help them solve?
- What do they value most?
- What are their goals?
- Where do they go for information?
- What experience are they looking for when seeking out your products or services?
- What are their most common objections to your product or service?
You can see that the questions start off with the questions you’re familiar with from thinking about a target market but that they soon go into psychological elements.
Of course these psychological elements are the hardest to know and answer. So the exercise of answering these questions is really a way to get you to know your customer better. To answer these questions you need to be close to your current clients.
You can get close to your current clients by setting up a phone interview with them or by using online surveys (with a tool such as Survey Monkey—www.surveymonkey.com). If you have a sales team, you can ask them. They’ve probably heard quite a lot about what’s going on in your client’s head through various interactions over time. You can also pick up some good information from reading social media sites where your ideal customers interact.
So persona marketing is driving you back to the old concept of market research.
You can see more persona examples here.
And why bother? When it comes time to write content like this blog post or your next sales letter if you’ve conducted this kind of market research and assimilated it into a buyer persona, you will be able to picture your ideal client sitting in front of you.
You will know exactly who you are writing for and what they care about. You’ll be able to write to their goals and match your language to their emotional and psychological needs. You cannot align your writing so precisely when you’re writing for an amorphous market segment.
Of course, by hitting the bull’s eye on your customers needs and using appropriate language you will increase the “hit rate” of your marketing. If you’d like to know where to go with your online marketing after developing a buyer persona grab the ebook below.