Updated: Jan 21, 2021
Small Businesses: Listen Up
Most content marketers use and rely on buyers’ personas to understand their customer’s needs and develop content that matches those needs. But while they may develop a template or note some characteristics of their target audience, often smaller businesses do not put forth the time and effort needed to fully develop accurate buyers’ personas for their businesses. This is unwise, so this article will explain how you can develop accurate buyer personas to inform your marketing efforts.
What Is A Buyer Persona?
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. When creating a buyer persona, marketers typically include customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals.
These buyer traits are critically important to identify who your customers are, and as Ardath Albee, B2B market strategist and author notes, companies go out of business if they ignore the questions:
Who the heck are we going to talk to?
Why will they care?
What are we going to say that is relevant to them?
So, Marketers, unless you know your customers intimately, meaning not only where they live but also where they shop, what they buy, what they eat and everything else of note, you will not know what to say to them to reach them. Consumers are only loyal to businesses that appear to understand them well. Additionally, having buyers personas in place enables efficient communications between brand and marketing agency or staff. Thus it is incumbent on any business owner to know their customers well, and the buyers persona accomplishes that.
Okay, I Need Buyers Personas. How Do I Make Them?
There are many tools available to help you develop buyers’ personas, but the truth is you do not need a template, you only need to ask basic questions about your users’ habits and choose segments of your audience to direct and impact with your story.
Questions To Ask
In order to develop a comprehensive snapshot of your customer, for each, ask:
Buyer’s age, gender, annual income
Members of the household
The area they live in (metropolitan, urban, suburbs, rural)
Interests, hobbies, etc.
Job role or titles
Career goals and aspirations
Motivation and fear
Tech-savviness and social media use
Personas Are Different Than Profiles
Many marketers mistake a persona for a buyer profile, but personas are much more than a title or demographics which are generally static, shallow representations of who a person actually is. For example “Janet, a 45 year-old customer service associate for a swimsuit company in the Midwest,” is a profile. To find out who Mary really is and how your company can appeal to her, you must ask about her goals, needs, desires and concerns. You need to learn about Mary’s life and what matters most to her. This is much more than just her geographic location and job title. It is in the details that you will find the road map to creating content that appeals to Janet and your other customers.
Ok, I’ve Collected The Information, Now What?
Now is the tough part where you sit down with your data and put together a picture of your buyers. Make several personas to represent the various buyers along a continuum. For example, your target audience may be in the age range of 25-45, but you may want to break them down further by their traits and habits in the 25-35 range and 35-45 range. Once you do this, name your Personas and then make slides for each and develop a slide show that you can then share with marketers and content creators.
Negative Personas: Who Is Not Your Customer?
One thing you may not have considered is the importance of negative personas. A “Negative Buyers Persona” is the opposite of a regular buyer persona and it tells you who you do not want as a customer. For example, if you are targeting an SAT course to high school students, you do not want to include anyone in college or who already has a bachelor’s degree. If you wind up targeting negative personas because you did not take the time to identify who they are, you are not only losing money, but you are potentially alienating others and tarnishing your brand. Thus, it is just as important to know who you customers are not as is to know who they are.
2021 Is The Year To Create Effective Buyers Personas
As you can see, buyers’ personas should be an integral part of any marketing plan, whether you are a big brand or a small business. Do not make the mistake of “phoning in” your buyers’ personas as doing so will result in not knowing your customer or worse, offending or alienating them with your content. Instead, take the time to ask your buyers questions and do not be afraid to dig deep with those questions. Buyers require businesses to deliver personalized content that resonates with them, and part of the process of doing that involves creating accurate buyers’ personas.
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