Semi-Fictional Representations Of Your Ideal Customers
The seminal foundation of inbound marketing is having a good understanding of who your intended audience. To fully understand your audience you should start by defining your buyer personas. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research, real data about your existing customers and a few educated guesses. When creating your buyer personas, consider including customer demographics, behavior patterns, industries, positions within companies, motivations and goals. The more detailed you are, the better. You need a literal picture of who this person is and what information is important to them.
Buyer personas provide tremendous insight into your target market. A detailed buyer persona will help you determine where to focus your time, guide your product and service development, and allow for alignment across your organization. As a result, you will be able to attract your most valuable visitors, leads and customers.
One of the most important things about your buyer persona are their pain points. In other words, what is causing them trouble? Once you have figured out the pain points you can start to create content that will help solve their problems. Your task is to provide them with that helpful information.
These pain points can guide you in all of your content marketing. When creating content, you need to think: How can I create content that helps my buyer persona? What pain points am I trying to solve through this information? How am I going to help them solve it? What do they need most? What makes their life easier? Creating some kind of helpful content, whether in a blog post, guide or an infographic, is the first step to reaching your buyer persona.
Locations And Habits
Knowing where you can find your buyer personas online is essential. You also need to know the how and when they access information on the Internet. The how and when are important, because they're going to tell you where you're going to need to be working.
If you're a business-to-business company and you know that your persona spends a lot of time on LinkedIn, you'll want to start concentrating on LinkedIn Groups. If your personas are business consumers and you think that they're going to find you through organic search, then you need to focus on putting your content out there by blogging. If you're a retail business, you're going to want to concentrate on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest and engage in social interactions with your personas. Where do your buyer personas spend their online time and what social media sites do they use to find answers?
The "how" is important, but it always has to be done in tandem with the "when." One strategy is to look at some most popular tweets or posts aimed at your buyer personas. When were they were made? If a pattern emerges, recognize it and integrate it into your own strategy. Don't know how to find these personas on social media? Think about what keywords they would use when searching for to find a solution? Search under those hashtags in Twitter or Facebook, etc, and you'll find your personas.
Use Cases And Preferences
Examine how your personas interact with your company through use cases and preferences. You need to know how your personas interact among the elements of your systems, so you can figure out what value you bring to them. Why can't they live without you? If they're not taking the actions you want, this also informs you on how you can educate them.
Use cases and preferences really tell you what your sales cycle looks like. They inform what your offers online and your workflows should be. They also let you know at what point you can start working lead nurturing campaigns with them.
At the end of the day, this persona conversation can be a very large one. The most important thing to answer for yourself is this one question:
What groups does my client base break down into, and how can I treat them better by treating them differently?
That's really what matters. Ask questions that help people self-identify. Things as simple as, which of our services are you interested in? What's your biggest need? What's your biggest issue? What are you interested in learning more about? Those questions are usually what's most significant to your buyer personas, and you can ask them in a way that's really helpful to them. Once you get that question answered, you can understand which of your buyer personas you're interacting with.
Your buyer personas are vital to every strategy decision you make. In taking the time to develop buyer personas by meeting with your existing customers and prospects, and looking at existing market data for your contacts, you’ve identified how your customers think, react and respond. From there, you are able to draw conclusions -- how they’ll react to specific marketing campaigns, where your information will reach them best and what type of content is most helpful/valuable to them in solving their problems. Developing buyer personas takes away some of the guesswork.