Inbound marketing is all about discovering who your customers are, and then fine tuning your strategy to solve their problems. Without this major building block of the inbound marketing approach… we wouldn’t know who to attract!
Building buyer personas can help you find out who our ideal customer is, what their needs are, and how you can fulfill them. Part fiction, part reality, buyer personas are made-up characters that represent a group of your existing customers. Their profiles are made up of your ideal customers’ motivations, needs, and goals, informed by factors like their position, industry, and company goals.
So how do you develop buyer personas?
Depending on your industry, you’ll want to determine which factors are important to your customer’s decision-making process. Based on your experience with current customers, and on who you’d like to target, ask questions that will help you discover their needs and who they are:
- Are they a leader in their organization?
- What is their role?
- Do they use social media?
- What platforms do they frequent?
- What are their challenges, and pain points?
- Why might a persona contact your company?
- What do they want from you?
When answering these questions, be deliberate and discerning. The answers should focus on your customer’s needs, not your products or services. How you can help ease their pain points and fulfill their needs comes in later, when creating content or sculpting offers. If you’ve targeted your customer’s needs accurately, then the content you generate will naturally address them, and be persuasive in their own right.
There are plenty of inbound tools and guides out there to help you structure your persona profiles. HubSpot offers a MakeMyPersona tool, and this free template, to help come up with a direction for the information you collect. Don’t forget to give your personas memorable names! IT Tyrion, CEO Sansa, Marketing Margaery, etc. Adding names and images will help you see a concept, as a customer. After all, they are representative of the real people that drive your business!
There are many ways to go about collecting relevant data. Here are a few:
- Survey your current customers to get a sense of the group of people you’ve already been able to help.
- Collect information from your website visitors via forms. This will help you gather data from leads in different stages of the buyer’s journey and the sales funnel.
- Brainstorm with your coworkers. Some may identify different ideal customers than you. Hear what other departments have to say – you may be surprised what you find. Use this as an opportunity to get on the same page.
When doing your buyer persona due diligence, you might find that certain customers have been assigned the incorrect sales stage. Create a persona for these types of people as well. This can help you segment lists later on, so that you don’t accidentally send an offer to a person that seems like the right fit, but isn’t because of some discerning quality or factor.
Once you’ve created the main buyer personas for your business – the number can vary based on the nature of your product – it’s time to put them to work.
The buyer personas will directly inform your strategy to refine your targeted marketing approach. Use them to segment your contact lists, and then create content for each segment. You’ll find that your contacts are more likely to engage with your content – and be delighted with your service – the more relevant your content offers are to their needs.
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