July 12, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Creating Actionable Buyer Personas

July 12, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Creating Actionable Buyer Personas

Marketing Strategy, Digital

Buyer personas. Either you have them but your team doesn’t know how to use them, so they’re good as gone — or your team simply skipped creating one to get to the ‘real work’.

While many companies are aware of the general importance of personas, they don’t fully understand what it is they’re trying to do when they create them.

So what is a buyer persona? It is a picture of your ideal customer, who needs exactly what you’re selling and can do business with you in the precise way you want.

By creating all your marketing materials and strategies with your buyer persona in mind, you can achieve higher sales with the same investment and effort.

The following guide will help you fully understand its importance in marketing. It will then show you how to create actionable buyer personas and achieve success in all your marketing and sales efforts.

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Why Are Buyer Personas Important for Marketers?

When you create a buyer persona, you learn to see the world as your clients do. This insight gives you a number of advantages when trying to sell to them.


1. Thought Process Perception

In researching and creating a buyer persona, you learn how your customers decide what to buy. You have a chance to follow their thought process and see how they go from awareness to consideration to decision.

You can then tailor your sales funnel to this exact thought process. By figuring out which marketing materials and sales tactics are most effective at each stage of this process, you can appeal to firms at exactly the right moments to convince them to become your clients.


2. Flexible Marketing Features

The more buyer personas you construct, the easier it is to appeal to different kinds of customers. For example, let’s say you run an SaaS business that offers cloud-based customer support and targets B2B startups and SMBs. Both have different sets of needs, pain points, or barriers. That leaves you with an opportunity to create different personas to match these needs.

Using these personas, you can figure out what kind of marketing materials each type of business is likely to respond to.

For instance, after conducting your research, you discovered that your startup clients are highly likely to read fun infographics and prefer creative videos over long-from content. On the other hand, you’ll learn that SMB owners are willing to attend webinars and download white papers and industry reports.

Once you know which types of content appeal to which customers, you can target that content accordingly and appeal to both groups effectively.


3. Customer Setting Considerations

Buyer personas help you determine where and when your customers are while they view the marketing content you publish. You can then create content that appeals to customers in those settings.

For instance, you discover that your startup audience read your content in the morning on their way to work — an opportunity for you to engage through newsletter emails. Perhaps you also learn that you get more engagement from them on your social media on certain times and certain days of the week. You can use this insight by posting more content on these days and times.

By learning these kinds of considerations, you can tailor a marketing content that your audience will want to consume.


4. Dead End Avoidance

Buyer personas don’t just tell you what types of content to publish, they also tell you what types not to publish.

For example, you may determine that your most SMB audience don’t respond to marketing emails, perhaps because they’re already flooded with too many messages. In that case, you can steer clear of email marketing, at least for that particular group of customers.


5. New Product Navigation

Buyer personas also make it easier to determine what new products you should sell in the future. The more detailed your buyer personas, the easier it is to determine what specific issues customers are trying to resolve. You can then introduce new products and services that solve those particular problems.

These are not abstract benefits; they have a direct, positive effect on your bottom line.

Buyer personas make virtually every type of marketing or sales initiative more cost-effective. In email marketing campaigns, for example, customers were twice as likely to open emails and five times as likely to click on the links they contained if those emails were written with buyer personas in mind.

Likewise, when websites are tailored to buyer personas, customers were two to five times more likely to find them easy to use and effective.

So the more you incorporate personas into your marketing efforts, the greater the ROI of those efforts.


How to Create a Buyer Persona

Once you understand the true value of buyer personas, you’re ready to create them for your own company. To craft an effective persona, you must:


1. Conduct Research

Creating actionable buyer personas always begins with researching your likely customers in as much detail as possible. Learn as many details as you can about them (more on this later). The more of this information you have, the better you’ll understand their needs and present your product accordingly.


2. Interview Customers 

Besides conducting remote research, you can also get valuable information from interviews with past, present, and potential customers.

Ask them what they do, what resources they need to do it, and what barriers stand in the way. When talking to past customers who no longer do business with you, invite them to be honest about what it is they didn’t like about your service. This lets you know what you did wrong in the past.

You can then incorporate this information into your buyer personas and avoid making similar mistakes in the future. Likewise, when talking to those who have remained your customers, ask what they liked about your business and try to build on that going forward.


3. Check Your CRM

If your business uses customer relationship management, or CRM, software, take a look at the data from that software. Get a sense of which types of firms tend to stick with your company over the long haul and which tend to take their business elsewhere.

This will help you with buyer personas in two ways.

First, it identifies the kinds of companies that are most likely to appreciate your business the way it is now; you can create a buyer persona based on them that will help you keep up the good work.

Second, it lets you know what types of companies aren’t a good fit for your business yet. By making separate personas for them, you can figure out what it is you’re doing wrong and how you can change for the better.


4. Perceive the Pressures

Once you’ve gathered a large amount of information from interviews, market research, and CRM records, identify the specific individual that you’ll need to appeal to when selling to each company. Visualise their daily routine. Describe the greatest pressures they face at work.

Then think about what you can do to relieve those pressures. How can your product or service help relieve pressures like those?


5. Consider an SAM Model

Strategic account management, or SAM, models take into account your clients’ strategies, values, and goals, and then align your own sales and marketing efforts with them.

If you use an SAM model while creating your buyer personas, you can tie your needs and values to those of your customers. This way, the two of you can fully understand each other and work together as effectively as possible.


6. Use a Voice Program

Voice of the Customer programs involve communicating with customers at strategic moments. You can gather feedback about what products and services your clients are looking for, what needs they have, and what priorities they assign to different goals.

With this information, you can create a detailed, robust buyer persona tailored specifically to the way your customers make purchases.

While you are conducting this research, keep this infographic within your reach and remember the following questions.



How to Use Actionable Buyer Personas

Once you have created a buyer persona for every type of likely customers, it’s time to put those personas to work. How you do this will depend on what specific personas you have created and what products or services you’re trying to sell.

But in general, here are some steps for you to take.


1. Relocate Your Ad Spending

Even before you start creating new marketing content, you should use buyer personas to determine how many resources to put into each type of content. Consider what kinds of materials will appeal to each persona; then allocate your ad spending accordingly.

If your buyer personas tend to respond to website content but not to emails, for example, reassign money from email marketing to website content marketing. This way, you’ll have all the resources you need for the most effective marketing initiatives.


2. Match Your Clients’ Language

Use buyer personas to figure out the language of your customers, and use that language in your marketing efforts.

This doesn’t just mean dialect and slang choices; it also includes the tone of your writing. If your buyer personas tend to be rushed, for example, you should use language that is direct, urgent, and to-the-point.


3. Segment Lists and Deals

Go through all your contacts for both current and prospective customers and organise those companies into lists based on buyer persona. Then consider what types of promotions and discounts each persona is likely to respond to.

Offer customers in each list the deal that you’ve identified for their persona.


4. Produce Targeted Content

Besides offering deals based on customers’ personas, you should produce and target content on that basis. Ebooks, videos, white papers, blog posts, and industry news each appeal to different types of personas.

For example, a persona that is highly knowledgeable and technically trained might appreciate an report on certain industry trends or ebook that goes into detail about marketing strategies. On the other hand, a persona with less technical knowledge or less time to spare might appreciate shorter, more concise content, such as a video or a brief blog post.


5. Audit Existing Content

Not only can buyer personas inform the way you write new content, but they can also help you improve the content you’ve already published. Go back through existing content and examine your tone, choice of words, and framing in light of your buyer personas.

If any of these features do not match the personas you’ve identified, edit your content accordingly.


6. Test for Gaps

Regularly assess your buyer personas to see if they leave anything to be desired. Check your CRM data and interview customers who have stopped buying from your business.


7. Create a Nurturing Content Stream

As you apply and refine buyer personas, use them to appeal to prospective customers at every stage in the sales funnel. This way, you can nurture people who are interested in your business, gradually winning them.

The better you take advantage of buyer personas, the more customers will feel that what you offer is truly satisfying, leading them to keep coming back for the long haul.


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