An essential part of any marketing plan is deciding WHO you're going to sell your products/services to, otherwise known as your target audience. Developing your ideal target audience can be tough, however, since there are so many factors that come into play! One of the best solutions is to create buyer personas.
What's a buyer persona?
A buyer persona, otherwise known as a marketing persona, is a fictional character that is created to represent a business' ideal customer. Companies normally create several buyer personas that represent different segments of their target audience.
These fictional characters possess key characteristics, demographic traits, and specific needs that can hopefully be met by the business.
How can creating buyer personas help my business?
Creating buyer personas give you detailed insight into the specific wants and needs of your target audience. This process requires you to ask various questions regarding the specific details of your audience, and by doing so, you learn about your business and products/services.
Creating and implementing buyer personas is also an excellent way to discover where you can reach your target audience, as well as the type of messaging that will be most effective.
Can any business benefit from creating buyer personas?
Certainly! The outcome of the buyer persona development process just might look a bit different depending on the type of company involved. For some companies in a B2B environment, the buyer persona might take the form of an entire business entity, rather than an individual consumer.
Highly focused companies in a niche environment might only have a couple of buyer personas, while a large company involved in several industries might have a plethora of different buyer personas!
How do I get the information to create buyer personas?
Good question! A few strategies we find helpful are to:
1) Use your current customer information from Facebook Insights or Google Analytics
2) Interview current or potential customers
3) If you are starting off, feel free to take a look at a similar company's customer base using a free tool like SimilarWeb (no shame here, business is business!)
4) Be creative! YOU know your brand's mission more than anyone else, so try to think outside of the box on who your ideal customers are!
Alrighty, that sounds great! How do I get started?
We'll walk you through the easy process with the 5W's (+H) of buyer persona creation! (We hopped around a bit on the order of the 5W's so bear with us.)
1) WHO is your ideal customer?
Start off by asking some of the following questions to fill in the basic information for your fictional character(s). This is the section where most of the demographic info is figured out. You can even use a photo (stock, cartoon, whatever floats your boat) to help bring things to life!
Are they male/female?
What is their name?
How old are they?
What is their occupation?
What is their annual income?
Where do they live?
What are their hobbies?
What are their personality traits?
After answering these questions you should start to see your buyer personas grow into their characters.
2) WHAT is their biggest need/pain point?
Successful marketing involves recognizing and meeting the needs of your audience, so it should be no surprise that this is a crucial part of the buyer persona process. Try to think outside of the box and really put yourself in the shoes of each of your fictional characters.
3) HOW are you going to meet their needs?
Now that you've identified their pain points, how are your products/services designed to meet these needs? You probably already have most of this part figured out prior to this exercise, but sometimes you can discover new customer needs or solutions during this step!
This is also a great time to decide which types of content they will be helpful/interesting, as well as what type of messaging to use.
4) WHERE can you reach them?
Now that you know how to meet your customer's needs and what types of content to provide them, it's time to figure out where are the best places to reach them. Ask yourself the following questions:
What social media platforms do they use?
What types of blogs/magazines do they read?
What types of stores/restaurants do they go to?
What radio stations or TV channels do they tune into?
What type of daily transportation do they take?
Where do they go for fun on their time off?
Remember that inbound marketing is all about letting them find you in their daily life, rather than disrupt it!
5) WHY would they choose your brand over the competition?
You've got your characters developed, their needs defined and solved, and where you're going to reach them all figured out. Now ask yourself "if I were this character, would I choose my brand over the competition. Why or why not?"
Try to be as non-biased as possible (it's hard, we know). This is a great opportunity to think of any ways you could additionally appeal to your audience besides what you already have to offer!
6) WHEN are they likely to convert (or become customers)?
Are your characters likely to convert after seeing a Facebook ad or two, or is their buyer journey a much longer process? Creating a hypothetical customer lifecycle is a great way to divide your content and create a high-functioning marketing funnel.
Creating buyer personas is a fun, yet rewarding process. Keep in mind that your buyer personas will likely change and grow with your business over time, so make sure to update them every once in a while so they don't get outdated!
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