Most B2B marketers understand the value of a high-quality, consistent content marketing program. The best content starts with an understanding of your audience, their needs and the way they make purchase decisions. That’s why taking the time to develop buyer personas is so critical to your lead generation process.
Buyer personas represent a target audience your business wants to attract as a long-term customer. When you better understand your clients and prospects you can better tailor your content and service offering.
With that in mind, how do you go about creating buyer personas? In developing buyer personas, Skoda Minotti Strategic Marketing identifies the answers to the following questions that will help us engage with our audience, and create marketing campaigns that have a higher propensity to convert leads.
What information should I include in a buyer persona?
Focus on the following topics when creating your buyer persona template:
- Job information: Title, key responsibilities, experience in position, location, company description (size and revenue)
- Personal information: Age, marital status, children, income, hobbies, education
- Goals: What is the persona’s primary and secondary goals? Is this a first-time purchase or evaluation of current provider?
- Attitudes: What is their familiarity with the service/product offering? What is the barrier to purchase? What are their greatest pain points?
- Buying behavior: How do they shop for information and purchase? How does this change as they go from research to a repeat purchase? Are they the final decision maker? How do they make their decisions?
- Buying stage: Where are they in the buying process? What criteria do they use to make decisions; what messages appeal to them?
- Drivers: What rewards do they associate with the purchase; what problems will the service help them resolve?
- Descriptors: It’s helpful to name your buyer persona in a way that others can easily identify with. Choose an image to go with that description. For example, CFO: Laura might be an audience your business is targeting for a new service.
What is the right number of personas for my company?
This will vary with each business. Think of it in terms of who is involved with, the purchasing decision. The entry point may start with one individual, but the final decision rests with another. You won’t close the sale without including both, and everyone else along the path in the buyer’s journey. You’ll want to evaluate each person’s activities and needs throughout the decision-making process. You may want to break out the roles as follows, who may be one or three separate individuals:
- Initiator (early stage)
- Influencer (mid-stage)
- Decision-maker and buyer (late stage)
You need separate personas for each person involved in the buyer’s journey because their needs are different, and that means the way you will want to engage with them are different. Think of it this way: the initiator may be interested in general information, such as e-books and industry research, while the final decision maker will be more interested in case studies that demonstrate cost savings and a face-to-face meeting.
How do I communicate these personas within the company?
While the job of creating buyer personas may fall within the marketing arena, make sure it doesn’t stay there. Your entire company should be engaged in the process and easily able to recognize your personas as they interact with prospects along the buyer’s journey.
You can conduct educational programs to train the various groups within your company and keep them posted about what you learn on an ongoing basis. This also provide a means for employees to share what they learn so that you can tweak your personas as you move forward. In addition, don’t forget your new hires. Buyer personas also serve as a great educational tool for new employees in better understanding the company’s ideal buyer. The more you can make your buyer personas relatable, the easier you will make it for others within your organization to recognize the right way to interact with your prospects. I recommend creating a one-page overview to include a picture of the target, demographics, description of company, values/goals, problem attempting to solve, research process and potential objections.
One final word: if you find the entire process overwhelming, start with just two or three personas and build from there. Add in other influencers as you move along. There is no “right” number to have—it all really depends on the number of distinct buyers you plan to target.
In an increasingly competitive market, buyer personas are essential to making your marketing plan deliver new leads. They remove the anonymity that can all too often “blur” your audiences into one unrecognizable mass of customers.
Do you need help with developing an effective lead generation program for your company which starts with an understanding of your buyers? If so, contact Cary Chaitoff, Skoda Minotti Marketing Director, at 440.449.6800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.