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Do you know who your customers are? No, really - if I asked you to tell me the varying challenges, needs and objectives of your customer base and how you segment your customers based on this level of insight, could you do it?
It's easy to fall into the trap of segmentation based purely on demographic data, customer types and geography. However, using this data alone means you lose sight of the individual at the other end - the actual person you should be communicating with.
Really Getting To Know Your Customers
As a marketing coach, I recommend to all of my clients that the foundation for truly effective marketing starts with identifying the shared sets of needs, challenges, values and goals represented by your target market - aka, your Buyer Personas.
It sounds obvious, but when done properly your whole focus changes. You acquire a compass that can guide all of your marketing decisions which allows you to begin speaking specifically to your prospects and customers in a way that resonates with them.
However, just because it sounds obvious doesn't mean it is simple, or widely adopted.
Limited insight into who it is you are needing to connect with leaves you unsure of the marketing activities that will be effective for your business. Therefore, whether you have a marketing coach, consultant, or manage your marketing internally, it is imperative that you prioritise gaining insight into what an average day looks like for your customer, where they go for information and what their goals are.
How To Create Your Buyer Personas
Creating effective personas is done through initial and ongoing research. Surveys of your target audience, existing customers and client facing staff are the best place to start.
You should analyse your internal data to help define the preferred personas based on important factors to you, such as loyalty, purchase volumes, referrals and level of support (how much hand holding they need). This should come in the form of sales data as well as uncovering insights from your internal team. The aim of the game is to define who you want to be attracting and importantly, who you want to stop attracting.
You are likely to have some preconceived ideas of who your preferred personas are, but don't let this limit or conflict your approach to the research, as the real power comes from uncovering trends that truly help you define who your customers actually are.
The Key Is To Just Get Started
If you have limited data to work with in the early stages, that's ok. The key is to use what you have and, where necessary, a mixture of balanced judgement and hypothesis, to get started.
If you have a marketing coach or marketing consultant that you currently work with, then ask them for their insight into what they have observed about your business and what approach they would take to help develop your initial personas.
However, don't fall into the trap of thinking that once you have set some personas that your work is done. The true benefit comes from ongoing research and collection of insights.
If you don't have any Inbound Marketing software that allows for automation and workflows to help build your categorisations, then you need to keep focused on how you categorise your customer base into their relevant personas. Additionally, over time, you may find that there are sub-sets of behaviours, goals and objectives within existing personas that dictates the capacity for these to be split into 2 new personas. The more specific you can be, the better.