The Internet has made it easier to reach more customers — on a faster basis and more cheaply. But that doesn't make connecting with customers or maintaining initimate relations with them automatic.
You may think you know who these folks are and what they need, but unless you're actively developing and using buyer personas (audience personas, user personas, customer personas — all the same thing), you probably don't.
Why You Need Buyer Personas
Think of it this way. A mere generation ago, when Mr. Smith wanted nails, he went to Bob's General Store. Bob had known Mr. Smith for ages; they played together as kids and went to the same school.
Bob knew Mr. Smith had a 40 x 80 shed in his backyard, because he sold him all the materials and spent many evenings after work helping him build it. He always kept the size nails Mr. Smith used on his shed in stock. Bob also stocked Mrs. Smith's preferred brand of flour, and the Smith children's favorite candies.
Bob knew his customers intimately. In the world of digital marketing, businesses lack that kind of customer insight and perspective. Buyer personas give that back to you.
Why You Need Multiple Buyer Personas (Customer Segmentation)
Fast-forward to today. Your marketing and sales team may have never even met any of your customers face-to-face.
This is even more critical in the B2B arena, where "the buyer" is actually composed of numerous individuals, all with differing goals, needs, and behaviors.
You need to know when you're dealing with the decision maker, and when you're engaging instead with one of their support staff, who is merely researching the options for the inevitable decision maker.
Even in the B2C arena, any given product likely has between two and 20 separate buyer personas. If you're selling men's pants, you might be selling to the man who will wear the pants, his significant other, his mother, his sister, or his personal assistant.
Developing and utilizing customer personas is the act of determining who your buyers are, what they seek to accomplish with the purchase, and how they behave along the route (customer journey) to making the decision to buy — or not to.
How to Develop & Utilize Buyer Personas
Developing buyer personas means getting to know your customers (their demographics) and getting to know their behaviors (their customer journeys).
There are several ways to do this. The more of these methods you employ, the more finely-tuned your buyer personas will inevitably be.
- Take surveys of your current customers. Find out why they decided to choose you over your competitors. You may be shocked that you're not even touting your strongest selling points!
- Track the buyer journey as it relates to consuming your content. You'll likely notice that how a CEO consumes your marketing content differs from how their support staff does. You'll need a separate customer persona for each journey you identify.
- Examine your demographic information. Who are your customers? Are they skewed male or female? Are they concentrated in cities or rural areas? Old or young? Digital natives or Internet newbies? You'll also need personas to represent each of these demographics.
- Speak to your sales staff. No one is more intimately familiar with your customers' pain points, common objections, frequent questions, needs, or goals than your sales staff.
- Look at industry trends. Industry trends are also important, because you will be able to determine where the masses are headed, and determine what your individual customer personas are likely to do based on that information.
Of course, determining how well your current inbound marketing strategy is set up to collect and use this information is essential. Without knowing how good your current strategy is, it's pretty hard to map where you're going. You can find that out easily enough when you get a free inbound marketing assessment from Inbound 281. Feel free to give us a call anytime.