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Buyer Personas

 

I’m starting to get serious about investing for retirement. When you’re in your 20s, retirement seems so far off that it’s hard to be motivated to save much. Even in my mid-30s, I thought I had plenty of time. Once I realized that I needed to be saving a big wad of dough each month if I plan to to reach my goals, I began researching investment vehicles, mutual funds, and individual stocks. I wanted to minimize risk as much as possible, while maximizing my odds of a strong return.

Marketing is a bit like putting money into your 401(k) or IRA — even though you aren’t guaranteed a return, if you make smart investments you’re likely to get a decent return over time.

With marketing, you can’t be absolutely certain that any given campaign will deliver the results you expect. But there are ways to drastically reduce your risk. One of those ways is to make sure you’ve built out accurate buyer personas before you start a campaign. The better you understand the people you’re trying to sell to, the greater success you’ll have.

If You’re Not Convinced. . .

  • Using buyer personas in an email campaign improved open rate by 2x and clickthrough rate by 5x. (MLT Creative)
  • Behaviorally targeted ads are twice as effective as non-targeted ads. (HiP)
  • Using marketing personas made websites 2-5 times more effective and easier to use by targeted users. (HubSpot)
  • [Personalized emails] drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails. (HubSpot)
  • Buyers are 48% more likely to consider solution providers that personalize their marketing to address their specific business issues. (ITSMA)
  • B2B organizations that exceed annual revenue goals are more likely than worse-performing organizations to use a wide range of sources to research the demographics and psychographics of their prospects. Organizations that exceed annual revenue goals are also more likely to create detailed personas that outline buyers’ motivators and fears as well as their roles in the purchase process. (Cintell)
  • In a study performed by Relevance, only 15% of respondents found buyer personas to be “significantly effective” — however, the same study revealed that only 15% of respondents used in-depth, qualitative research to build their buyer personas. Coincidence? (Relevance)

The Key to Building Buyer Personas that Reduce Risk

Those last two stats are particularly enlightening. Not just any buyer personas will increase your marketing’s chance of success. You need personas that are accurate, thorough, and that dig deep into the psychology of your buyers. How can you get the knowledge you need to build these personas? Here’s the process I use.

1. Create a list of what you want to learn. I include the following:

  • gender percentages
  • age range
  • job title
  • industry
  • what his or her typical day looks like
  • what he or she feels is needed (in relation to the problem your product or service solves)
  • what his or her short-term goals are
  • what his or her long-term goals are
  • what he or she fears
  • what his or her buying research process looks like
  • websites he or she uses
  • publications he or she reads
  • social media platforms he or she is active on
  • what’s important when choosing a product or service provider
  • what formats of content he or she likes best

2. Start the research process.

  • For B2B, look through the websites of their trade associations and the media kits of their industry publications for insight on demographics.
  • For B2C, look through the websites and media kits of consumer magazines you know they read.
  • For B2B, look through their LinkedIn industry groups and online forums to learn how they describe their needs and frustrations.
  • For B2C, look through social media accounts of people who fall into your target group and watch for how they describe their frustrations as well as things they get excited about.
  • Look at the case studies of your competitors or other companies targeting the same audience for information on common pain points.
  • Interview your ideal clients and/or prospects, asking these questions:
    • When did you realize you needed help with [the problem your product or service solves]?
    • Tell me more about that problem — how it manifests itself in your work week/life.
    • What do you look for in a product or service provider?
    • What’s your typical method of researching potential products or service providers?
    • What websites do you use on a regular basis?
    • What social media platforms are you active on?
    • What publications do you read?
    • How do you prefer to learn information? Webinars, podcasts, eBooks, blogs, videos, one-sheet PDFs, infographics?
  • Survey your email list with the same types of questions as those listed above.

If you skimp on your buyer personas, you’re cheating yourself out of the best return on your marketing investment. Strong buyer personas will help your marketing team to better understand what will motivate your prospects to purchase and enable your copywriters to craft effective messages that will move them action.

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