I remember the first time I made a foray into the world of business. I was stubborn—convinced that I could do things better than any company that would hire me. I did what any entrepreneurial college student would do: I designed a logo, made a website, setup social media and started marketing my services to the world. That was my biggest mistake. I didn’t define buyer personas (aka customer avatars) so my message was terribly generic and it didn’t resonate with anyone.
When you neglect to define exactly who you are selling to you wind up marketing your products or services to an overly-general and massively broad audience called everyone. Some small business owners might think, “Yes! If I market to everyone I’ll increase my chances of selling more.” But this is not the case. And you are not some small business owner. I know this because you’re here, reading this article about how to effectively target your marketing to get the most out of your investment.
What are buyer personas?
According to HubSpot, “a buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers… A detailed buyer persona will help you determine where to focus your time, guide product development, and allow for alignment across the organization. As a result, you will be able to attract the most valuable visitors, leads, and customers to your business.”Use #buyerpersonas to address the real world challenges and pain points that your customers face. Click To Tweet
In other words, buyer personas specifically identify your ideal customer—a distinction that will give you the clarity to craft marketing messages that strike a chord with folks who are most likely to buy.
Detail, details, details!
Remember my anecdote above about how I was too general with my message? When I decided to refine my message by creating a buyer persona, it looked something like this:
“My avatar is 25-35 years of age, operates a local small business, is married with 2 children and is frustrated because they are unable to find easily accessible information regarding X.”
This was my second mistake. I didn’t take the time to truly understand my customers, so even though my message was slightly more targeted it still didn’t resonate.
The more in-depth you get when defining buyer personas the more specific you can be with your messaging. John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur Of Fire gives this great example of a clearly defined buyer persona:
“My avatar is 32. Her name is Melissa, and she is a writer. She’s been wanting to start a blog for months now, but she doesn’t know where to start. She’s a good writer, but she could really use some help on how to structure and format a blog post – plus, she’s not really sure what exactly she wants to write about most of the time.
She is working part-time and earning her graduate degree online, so she’s usually studying up on how she can start her blog on the weekends. Melissa lives with her boyfriend and they both want to travel more, hate their jobs and don’t make enough money.”
Notice how much clarity this description gives you. Not only does it cover Melissa’s general demographic information, it also talks about her dreams and aspirations. It gives you a glimpse into a day in her life.
This is where the buyer personas are worth their weight in gold. When you clearly identify someone’s desires, dreams, motivations, struggles, and fears, your message suddenly becomes much more relevant to that individual. Some things to consider including in your buyer persona are:
- Full name
- Headshot (this is a real person, give them a face!)
- Describe an average day in their life
- Where they work
- Job title
- Level of education
- Goals and challenges
- Common objections to the sale
- Information sources
Where to start
So how do you begin to gather this information and put it to use for your business?
Ask your team members. Your team deals daily with the people that are already buying your products. By asking the right questions you’ll gain some fantastic insight into why people are buying from you (or why they aren’t).
Check you website analytics. Google analytics is a goldmine. It will tell you where visitors came from, what search terms brought them to your site, what content they viewed, and how long they spent on your site. This data is key because it will help you discern what desires and pain points brought visitors to your website.
Do research on social media. If you haven’t started following your customers on social media, now is a good time to start. Put them in a Google+ circle called Customers, follow them on LinkedIn and Twitter, become friends on Facebook. Connecting on social media will give you some outstanding insight into the pain points and desires of your customers. This will help you keep a finger on the pulse of your market and more specifically target your message.
Have you used buyer persona in your marketing before? What successes and struggles did you experience? Let’s chat in the comments!