When an architect designs a building of any size, there is one critical component that is always included. Without that one component, the building will not be supported and the project will fail. That one component is the one that the building will sit on and gain strength from. It's the first part of the building to be put in place and the most important part. It is of course a solid and strong foundation.
Many companies launch into marketing strategies and inbound marketing campaigns without laying that foundation which results in them not achieving their goals and getting the return on their investment.
When you are planning a marketing strategy it's important that approach it in the same way. By building a strong foundation you will help set yourself up for success.
When planning a marketing strategy and related campaigns you must take time to put a strong foundation in place before doing anything else. The foundation of successful marketing strategies is knowing and understanding your customer completely.
Ask yourselves - Do we know exactly who our Ideal Customers (Buyer Persona's) are? Have we taken the time to research, define and document them? Is our Marketing Strategy built upon those insights?
If you answered 'No' to the above then you need to take a step back and ask yourself how your business is going to be successful if you don't know exactly who it is you are trying to sell your product or services to. In order to attract, convert and close sales with the right customers you have to know all about them.
Customer centric companies are 60% more profitable than non-customer centric organizations
[Source: Deloitte & Touche]
After all, if you don't know who exactly it is that you are trying to market and sell to, how will you know:
- What content they will find useful and what they won't?
- Which channels you should be actively marketing on?
- What value you can add to their business?
- What challenges they have that you can potentially help them with? etc
So what exactly is a Buyer Persona?
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. They include demographics, communication preferences, background (personal and career), challenges, goals etc.
In a recent blog "How To Attract Ideal Clients to your Website" we outlined the key information that comprises a buyer persona. At a high level they include:
- General demographic & biographic information - Job titles, Roles, Responsibilities, Salary, Industry etc
- Common Behavior Patterns - Drivers, Motivations, How they like to communicate
- Pain Points & Challenges (professional, personal)
Without knowing this information about your ideal customers, your marketing and sales will seriously suffer. When putting together a marketing strategy and plan you need to start by taking an in-depth look at your ideal customers and create buyer personas. Don't cast a wide net, cast one that's going to get you the customers that you want without wasting a lot of time and effort those who aren't in need of your product or services.
How do you Create Them?
In order to learn about someone, you need to invest some time doing research. For marketing and sales, having a thorough understanding of their customers and potential ones will provide valuable insights in how to drive leads and sales forward. Some of the key ways to research your ideal customers are:
- Market Research – If you have the budget to do so, invest in focus groups or one-on-one interviews with your target customers. (In my experience one-to-one interviews are the most fruitful but are more time consuming). These can provide great insights for your buyer personas. Whatever market research you are completing, make sure it is carefully planned and scripted well ahead of the interviews.
- Questionnaires/Surveys – Use your existing customer base and send out questionnaires/surveys. If you have the budget, you can offer incentives to customers to complete your survey. Use tools like Survey Monkey to put surveys together so that its automated and results are easy to extract and analyse.
- Check your Website and Social Media Analytics – Analytics can provide valuable demographic data about the people who are currently interacting with your site and your social media. Use this data to build out your personas.
- Talk to your Employees – Your sales, client services and support employees know a lot about your customers (even if they don't realise it). So you need to talk to them. It's also important to talk with your C-Suite as they will have valuable insights.
[If you need a free template to help with creation of your own personas, you can download our free Guide to Creating Buyer Personas which also includes free templates]
Why do you Need Them? How Should You Use Them?
There are a multitude of reasons why you need buyer personas and how you can use them. Here are some of the key ones:
- Focused Marketing & Sales Efforts
By focusing on your ideal customers you stop wasting resources on those who aren't in need of your product or services. Leads that marketing pass onto the sales team will be much more qualified and allow your sales team to focus on closing sales with customers your company can provide real value to. If they are getting more qualified leads then the sales cycle should be shorter too.
Targeted advertising can be twice as effective as non-targeted. So use your buyer personas to set up targeted campaigns to get better results. Use detailed insights from your research on social media channels and your website to go after people or companies who are a good fit for your buyer personas. Use it for retargeting campaigns to increase results.
- Lead Generation
By directing your marketing efforts at buyer personas you are more likely to attract leads who actually need to buy your product or service. This will result in increased conversion rates as your visitors will be genuinely interested in what you have to offer them.
- Email Campaigns - Personalisation
Use your buyer personas to segment your email marketing campaigns and target different personas with different content more relevant to them than to a wider audience.
Utilizing buyer personas in email campaigns glean 2x the open rate and 5x the click through rate
- Segmented Contact Lists
You can use your buyer personas to create segmented lists to use for targeted campaigns. Given that each persona has challenges specific to them, create campaigns to uniquely target those needs across the buyers journey.
93% of companies who exceed lead and revenue goals report segmenting their database by Persona
- Social Media Marketing
Knowing who your ideal customers are and what social media channels they are interacting on means you know where to focus your social media efforts. Be active wherever your buyer personas are, and promote your content on those channels. Otherwise you could be wasting time on channels they don't interact on. This applies to your social media paid advertising too.
- Create Quality Content That they Want and Need
Knowing more about your customers and being able to see through their eyes, will help you put together a more powerful content marketing strategy. You can create offers, blogs and other content that is helpful to your intended audience.
- Website Design
When designing a website you need to design it for your ideal customers. Having buyer personas will help you understand them and better engage and convert your visitors and leads.
- Use your buyer personas to instantly capture your visitors attention. Ensure that your website speaks to them and gets across the right message to them.
-If you know what your buyer personas want, then you can use this information for planning page content and for your keyword research and SEO optimisation for all of your pages.
-Use your personas for the user experience design process to provide the best possible experience for your visitors.
-Use them to design effective calls to action, landing pages, forms etc to boost your lead generation.
Using marketing personas made websites 2-5 times more effective and easier to use by targeted users.
- Mapping Your Buyers Journey
Mapping your buyers journey is an essential part of planning your marketing strategy and implementing campaigns. In order to do this effectively, you will need to have well researched and documented buyer personas.
- Product/Service Development
Its not just your marketing and sales teams that will benefit from Buyer Personas. Your Product Development, UX Design, or Customer Success/Service teams will also benefit from being involved and having a clear understanding of your ideal customers. So when the process is complete, share them with anyone in the company who may benefit from them.
- Marketing and Sales Alignment
Marketing and Sales Teams need to be aligned. Make sure both teams sign off on your buyer personas and have a clear understanding of them. This will enable sales teams to communicate with potential customers on a more meaningful level and improve those conversations.
Companies that utilize inbound content platforms and offer buyer persona driven content see a 45% increase in the volume of Sales Accepted Leads (SALs).
So that's how to build a solid foundation for marketing success. If you haven't well defined buyer personas then hopefully you now have a greater understanding as to the importance of them and how they can be used when putting your strategy and goals in place.
71% of companies who exceed revenue and lead goals have documented personas. (Cintell, 2016)
But remember like everything else in your business, Buyer Personas will evolve as your business does so you need to review them at least annually or more often if your offering is changing.
If you want to see exactly whats involved in running an inbound marketing campaign, then check out ur online guide Guide to Running an Inbound Marketing Campaign.
We have also created a free guide and templates to help you create your buyer personas. You can download them below to get you started on the right track.
If you are currently facing any other challenges and would like some further advice please feel free to contact us. You can also email me directly at email@example.com to arrange a call to see what advice we can offer.