A Guide to Developing Buyer Personas to Inform Your Process From Step One
In addition to guest posting on the UpCity blog, Farotech is featured as one of the Top Digital Marketing Agencies in the United States. Check out their profile!
You are only as good as your database.
No, not your technology hardware. Your digital Rolodex of potential clients.
Why wouldn’t you be? You have a big list and you’ve been busy blasting that list with all kinds of marketing messages. Ever stop to wonder why you’re not getting better results? What if optimizing that list is the key to securing a more efficient sales process?
Or maybe you’re reading this and thinking that you’re missing more than just a great list. Sure, you’ve got one, but it’s nothing to be proud of. You’re not even totally sure who exactly you’re marketing to or how to reach those specific prospects with the right message at the right time.
No matter where you’re starting, we can’t stress enough the fundamental importance of developing detailed information to describe your key types of customers. Creating buyer personas is where the entirety of your content marketing starts. It’s critical for both your marketing team and sales team. It’s the process by which you determine who is buying from you already and what potential groups should be buying from you, but aren’t being properly marketed to yet.
The Key to Content Marketing: Identify Your Audience’s Pain Points
It’s okay to start with a wide net. This is an important step, but it’s often the only step that most businesses are implementing. Your wide approach is going to capture, at a very general level, anyone who may potentially benefit, at some time or another, from your basic products and services.
However, depending on how broad or niche your business is, this wide net might go too far. That’s why it’s also important to dive deeper and find specific communities that could benefit from unique aspects of what you provide. Identifying your target audience is necessary if you want to maximize your conversion rate and locate the ideal customer—we love “How to Find Your Target Audience in Three Easy Steps”.
Complete a Buyer Persona Exercise
We always recommend investing the time to conduct an official buyer persona exercise. What would this look like? Over one to three days, the critical stakeholders for your company should sit with a marketing expert to go through strategic questions and answers for each sub persona that can be identified.
You’ll be amazed at the nuanced information that you can obtain by observing how these answers vary from one persona to the next. This critical data will help you understand your customers and truly transform your content marketing efforts!
Identifying and describing more specific, segmented buyer personas can help your business accomplish the following:
- Reach a handful of “movers and shakers” within a specific community to mobilize the entire group.
- Set up very specific, targeted drip marketing to reach the right client with the right message at the right time.
- Harness the power of referrals to engage segments by developing brand ambassadors.
- Integrate the efforts of your sales and marketing teams to streamline your sales cycle and optimize your closing potential.
The Godfather of Segmentation and Practical Examples
We’re all familiar with Chicken Soup for the Soul, the widely popular book series, boasting 250 titles, and more than 500 million copies sold in dozens of languages. The author of the original Chicken Soup for the Soul could be considered the Godfather of segmentation for this example. He knew how to make and market a product to match a niche audience. Why is that? There’s a book for teachers, graduates, even firefighters, and the list goes on.
The point is: everyone wants something specifically for them. This is true about many things in life—and it’s true about marketing messages too. No one wants to be put on a company’s drip marketing list to receive information and offers irrelevant to their interest and need. But that’s exactly the kind of unwanted communication you’ll end up sending to your lists if they aren’t specifically segmented.
Example: If you run a hardware store that sells a variety of home and yard improvement goods, you need to segment your list to distinguish between homeowners who have purchased your product, in small amounts at random times throughout the year, and business owners, who may need larger quantities of higher quality materials on a more regular basis.
Within your business owner persona, you would want to establish some sub personas to get those lists nailed down to even more of a target audience.
- Some business owners may only shop for paint from your store because they own a painting business.
- Others are landscapers and are only concerned with yard improvement supplies and only during certain seasons.
- A third group does general carpentry and renovations, so their interests would be more focused on tools and lumber.
Imagine if your lists weren’t segmented and a local homeowner received marketing emails from you about how to get wholesale discounts on orders of ten or more pallets of mulch? Consider the potential losses for your business.
First of all, that customer would be getting the wrong offer from you, which means you missed an opportunity to send them the right message. But more importantly, your marketing—which was intended to be targeted and relevant—has now suddenly become obnoxious and unwanted. That potential customer may even unsubscribe from your list due to receiving an irrelevant email.
Establishing an Advocate
When you segment your audience, consider the fact that the decision-maker may have a key influencer. For example, a CEO may task someone on his team to do all the upfront research and vetting for any new product purchases or business partnerships. Your goal is not only to get the right message to the right client at the right time, but it’s ultimately to connect to an advocate within a company and nurture that relationship as its unique buyer persona. You’re looking for that person who wants your products and services and understands exactly why their company needs you.
Create messaging for the persona within the persona—your advocate, or “the influencer.” When objections are raised in-house, they’ll already be armed with answers and fighting on your behalf, long before you ever even meet that CEO (or whoever the decision-maker is) for the first time.
Developing a Value Ladder
We’ve all seen those recommendations on Amazon. “People who bought this item, also bought x, y, and z.” They know that it’s 70% more probable to sell to an existing client than it is to generate a sale from a new prospect. According to Revenue Hub, it’s nine times more expensive to generate new clients than to simply keep current ones. So, rather than reinvent the wheel every time, maximize your lists with strategic segmentation.
Establishing a buyer persona is just the first step. You’ll want to also segment your lists by a distinct persona and also according to where specific leads within each persona are in the buyer’s journey. Then develop corresponding value ladders that plan to appropriately upsell or cross-sell other products or services that they would be inclined to want.
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Marketing Automation and the Integration of Sales and Marketing
Systematic marketing occurs at the intersection of your buyer personas with lead scoring and customized drip marketing—all tracked through your customer relationship management system (CRM). When your list is properly segmented and your content marketing is developed for specific buyers, your marketing automation can kick into full gear. Not only that, but your sales and marketing teams will be working together to collect, share, and use the critical data about potential customers to generate warmer leads and close sales more effectively. The ultimate goal is to eliminate possible points of drop-off for a potential client during their sales cycle.
Tip: Use your CRM for all it’s worth. Add every note and flag that can be added to a prospect’s account. Connect financial projections to your list of leads currently sitting in various stages of the sales cycle. This will help your business quantify the value of your pipeline and prioritize certain leads to reach company goals effectively.
Take the Next Step
Collecting your list is simply a small part of the process. And this is where the average company fails. They gather a big list and blast it with all kinds of general messaging. This misses the entire point of content marketing and it wastes the value of your list, which is one of your greatest assets.
Maybe after all this discussion on buyer personas and segmented lists, you might be sitting there thinking, “Okay, I need to back up. I’m not sure I even have a handle on what content marketing is in the first place.” If this is you, we have a great resource to help you get started. Check out our free ebook Getting Started With Content Marketing. In this ebook, we help you get down to the details concerning what’s necessary to start an effective content marketing campaign. It’s an approach that will dramatically increase the likelihood of your site visitors returning to you when they’re ready to buy.