Ismail Aly

How well do you know your customer?

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How well, do you know your customer? Do you know what motivates them, what their goals are, what their buying decision process is like, and where they spend time online? Finding the answers to these questions will help you model your target customers AKA your buyer personas. In this post, I will explain what a buyer persona is, how to create one and use it in your marketing. If you spend enough time and effort creating buyer personas, you will generate more leads, convert leads to customers and delight your customers to become promoters for your brand

What are buyer personas?

Let's start with the definition;  Buyer personas are semi-fictional characters that represent your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. It's a way of grouping your customers by demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. Most brands will need to develop more than one. Having a well-defined persona can help you build a better marketing plan in the long run, and help you target your marketing campaigns and offers to the right groups of prospective consumers.

According to The State of Buyer Persona Report 2015 "60% stated they either did not receive any new insights, or received only insights they had previously understood, and only 14% stated they achieved a deeper understanding of buyers" and "60% stated they had no to very little understanding of what the best practices are for buyer persona development."

Here are some buyer persona examples for a car dealership:

Active Bill: For their four wheel drive car models, targeting buyer personas who spend their weekends and vacations off-roading, camping, bicycling

Executive Mary: targeting working executives who have different needs for a car than Bill

Student Michele: 1st-time buyer or college students

The Stuart family: targeting families with 3 or more kids who might be a good market of vans and SUV's

There are also other buyer personas to consider like brand loyalists and influencers.

Why do you need buyer personas?

The objective of content creation and content marketing is lead generation and lead nurturing by feeding them killer content for each stage of their decision-making process.

To do that, you need to relevant content that addresses your Buyer Personas' concerns, challenges, and motivations.

You should start with developing a content strategy that:

  • Specify the types of content that will be easily consumed by your Buyer Personas, for example, blog posts, info sheets, infographics, white papers, videos, podcasts, memes, etc.
  • Specify the voice and style of your content 
  • Identify how your content will be distributed
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How to create your buyer personas?

The first step in creating buyer personas is conducting interviews with customers, prospects, your sales & customer service teams, as well as posting questions or short surveys on LinkedIn groups and industry related forums. The rule is the more information you have, the more accurate your developed buyer personas will be.

Here is a list of topics that you need to address in your interviews and surveys:

  1. Basic background details about each persona, like age, gender, lifestyle etc. This information can tell you a lot about each persona, and their behavior as different age groups share common characteristics in buying habits. For example, the difference between baby boomers and millennial generations.
  2. What are their hobbies, interests, favorite TV shows, type of food they like. All these personal details can help you understand your personas better, and you will be able to create personalized content.
  3. Their job details, what are their responsibilities, what a day in the office is like, what motivates them, what do they like, and what are the things they don't like about their job.
  4. What is their watering hole? Where do they get their information and the sources they use to conduct research?
  5. Which Social Media networks do they use, what is their usage frequency, and what time of day are they using it?
  6. What goals are they trying to achieve, how they think they can achieve it, and what will happen if they miss their goal?
  7. What are their challenges, how these challenges make them feel, and what do they think will happen if they do not overcome this challenge?
  8. Which type of content do they like to consume? For example do they prefer to read blogs or ebooks, watch videos, listen to podcasts, etc.
  9. It is important to add life to your developed personas and include an extra dimension by including some of their quotes in the interview.
  10. Try to ask questions that will give you an idea on what will be their objections for your products or services. Is it price, learning new things, etc...
  11. What is the role of your persona in the buying process? Is it their sole decision, or do they have to consult or agree with a partner or manager?
  12. Who are their influencers?
  13. What are the factors they take into account when they make the decision to buy? Price, features, ease of use, customer service, and resale value can all play a part in the decision.
  14. What other products or services they buy? Finding out what else your personas are interested in can help you create a business partnership with other companies offering complementary products and services to add value to your service offering.
  15. What is your personas educational background? Knowing this information helps you figure out how to present information to your personas. Do you use statistics and graphs, or infographics and comparison tables?

What to do with a buyer persona?

Once you have created your buyer personas it's time to put them in use to generate more leads and convert leads to customers. Your buyer personas will help you with:

  • Creating content that is relevant for each of your personas at different stages in their buying journey
  • Using the same lingo and buzz words your personas are using. For example if you are selling motorcycle accessories or music instruments you need to speak the same language of your personas, use the same buzzwords and slang, to make your content resonate better with them.
  • Knowing where your buyer persona get their information from or where they spend time online. For example if they spend more time on Twitter, you can better utilize your resources by being active on Twitter. By posting your remarkable content to excite your target personas, and direct them to your website where you can convert them to leads via your call to actions and landing pages
  • Segmenting your contact list based on your different buyer personas to deliver more personalized lead nurturing campaigns that will have a higher probability of converting them to customers
  • Using contextual marketing techniques such as smart content and smart call-to-actions you can create a personalized website experience by displaying different content and different call to actions based on your visitor persona type, and the stage they are in their buying process. For example, if you are a car dealership, one of your personas can be college students 1st-time car buyers. You can personalize your marketing messages so instead of saying "10 things to look for when buying your new car" to "10 Things Every College Student Needs to Know When Purchasing Their 1st Car."

In order to use the buyer personas you created you need to add fields to your landing pages forms that will ask questions to help map your lead to a buyer persona.  For example their biggest challenge, their role at work etc. Mapping your leads to a buyer persona will help you create personalized marketing campaigns. Here are some examples:

  • What do you see as your biggest business challenges?
  • What one thing are you hoping to get out of a solution like ours?
  • How do you see our solution helping solve your problems?
  • Are you more concerned about [defining persona characteristic] or [characteristic of another buyer persona]?
  • If I could help you with one thing, what would you like that to be?

I’d like to hear about your experience in creating your buyer personas.  Do you feel I missed something in this post? Share your ideas in the comments below.

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Ismail Aly

Ismail Aly

Inbound Marketing & Sales Enablement Consultant, HubSpot User Group Leader, HubSpot Platinum Partner

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