When creating marketing messages, it can be difficult to remember exactly who your audience is. Many companies tend to forget that their customers are actual people and lapse into the same corporate sales speak that they use around the office. To ensure that your messaging hits home, you must develop buyer personas.
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 good set of buyer personas will segment your audience in useful ways so that you can tailor your messaging to targeted groups of people. But personas are more than just traditional audience segmentation. They tell your ideal customer’s full story. With a buyer persona, you must create a thorough picture of each targeted group, including demographic information, interests, hobbies and challenges, where they go for information and even a representative photo.
Imagine that your list of e-mail contacts includes executives motivated to cut costs, those motivated by aggressive sales goals, and lower-level employees who potentially would use your product on a daily basis. You would have trouble creating an e-mail campaign that speaks to all three of these groups. Developing a snapshot for each customer type will help you speak their language and truly see them as people, not an anonymous audience.
Make or Break?
Creating buyer personas is not just a tool. It’s a best practice. Without them, your marketing efforts are often just a generic manifestation of wishful thinking. Instead of marketing with confidence, you’re creating content on conjecture, which is far less effective.
The benefits of segmenting your audience through buyer personas are numerous:
• You can be more consistent and deliberate in your marketing strategy, and build a plan around what types of information your audience is looking for, where and when they are most receptive to marketing messages, and how they prefer to engage.
• Personalized messages elicit more engagement from your audience, which in turn improves your business’s reputation for dispensing useful and engaging content.
• You’ll gather higher-quality leads with targeted messaging, saving your sales team’s time.
Your buyer personas also will benefit your audience. If you address their problems, answer their questions and demonstrate what’s in it for them, you will help them find exactly what they need, right when they need it, which cuts down their search time. The persona exercise will help you get to know your audience more deeply, as people. And by relating to your audience on a more personal level, you’ll see even stronger returns on your marketing efforts.
For more on buyer personas, check out "The Power of Personas" from the February 2013 issue of Marketing News.
This article was originally published in the June 19, 2014, edition of Marketing News Exclusives.