As you get started with inbound marketing your very first step for success is to build your company’s buyer personas. Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers. Your personas are based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns. As you build your ideal buyer profile, you’ll begin to realize how your marketing can more effectively target these people. Buyer persona profiles are essential to succeeding with your marketing efforts, both online and offline. With a better understanding of your target audience you will be able to personalize messaging to attract more quality leads. Here are the 3 steps to building your business’ buyer personas.
3 Step Process to Building Your Ideal Buyer Profile
Your buyer personas profile should consist of three basic elements: background, core functions and common questions. With a detailed background on your persona, you will be able to create more relatable marketing materials. The core functions relate to their responsibilities, duties and functions at their current organization or in their daily life (depending on the type of audience you target). You can be your persona’s most useful resource if you understand the type of questions they are asking and the challenges they are attempting to overcome. Utilizing research, interviews and a basic profile template you will be able to create your company’s persona(s) and improve your marketing efforts.
Research is the first step in creating your buyer persona profile. Start by looking through your current contacts database. What trends can you uncover from your customer’s profiles? You may only have demographic information for this list and that’s a great start! Where do the majority of your current customers live? How long have they lived there? Are they married? Do they have children? If you have a more sophisticated contacts database (such as Hubspot) you may even be able to spend time identifying trends on how customers and leads find and consume your website content.
Talking to your team is another important part of researching to build your business’ buyer personas. Members of your sales team or employees who work closely with your current customers and prospects on a day-to-day basis will have a ton of information about who your ideal customer is. Talk to them about common trends, questions people are asking and conversations they are regularly having with customers. You’ll be surprised what you can find out when you’re asking the right questions!
A great way to continue your buyer persona research is to utilize forms on your website that capture important persona information. For example, you can ask for company size, location, family size and/or occupation in a form to download an offer or contact. Capturing this information on an ongoing basis will help you build out a more insightful database which will help further build your personas or possibly develop new ones down the road.
Interviewing is the most critical step in building your business’ buyer personas. Your existing customers are the best place to start when conducting interviews. They already have engagement with your company and have utilized your services so they are likely to have open, honest opinions. It’s important to talk to both “good” and “bad” customers. If you only speak to customers who love your company then you won’t be able to fully understand your persona and their process. Talking to the “bad” customers will help you identify criteria for what we call “negative personas” (people who you are not targeting with your marketing efforts) as well as possibly help you learn how to improve your product or services. Finding customers to interview is usually pretty easy since they want to be heard and enjoy giving feedback on your services. By giving them a chance to talk to you about improvements and their thoughts, you will even increase their loyalty and appreciation for your company. However, although you may find many willing participants don’t forget that they are doing YOU a favor by taking time for this interview. Make sure to have everything you need prepared prior to the call or meeting and be flexible with their schedule.
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How Many People Should You Interview?
This really depends but according to Hubspot, 3-5 interviewees for each “persona” you are creating is a good start. You’ll know it’s time to stop if you start hearing many repetitive answers and are able to predict what the interviewee is going to say. The goal is to identify trends and patterns but also to continue learning new ways to attract your target audience.
What Should You Ask During The Interviews?
The questions list below is from Hubspot’s “How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for Your Business” article which includes a FREE TEMPLATE for your buyer personas. You will want to record your buyer persona interviews so they can be listened and translated later. You will also want someone on the line to focus on taking notes and one person asking questions and actively listening/participating in the call. Remember to ask your interviewee if it’s okay to record the call before starting the recording!
1) What is your job role? Your title?
2) How is your job measured?
3) What does a typical day look like?
4) What skills are required to do your job?
5) What knowledge and tools do you use in your job?
6) Who do you report to? Who reports to you?
7) In which industry or industries does your company work?
8) What is the size of your company (revenue, employees)?
9) What are you responsible for?
10) What does it mean to be successful in your role?
11) What are your biggest challenges?
12) How do you learn about new information for your job?
13) What publications or blogs do you read?
14) What associations and social networks do you participate in?
15) Describe your personal demographics (if appropriate, ask their age, whether they’re married, if they have children).
16) Describe your educational background. What level of education did you complete, which schools did you attend, and what did you study?
17) Describe your career path. How did you end up where you are today?
18) How do you prefer to interact with vendors (e.g. email, phone, in person)?
19) Do you use the internet to research vendors or products? If yes, how do you search for information?
20) Describe a recent purchase. Why did you consider a purchase, what was the evaluation process, and how did you decide to purchase that product or service?
*Remember: Expand on your interview questions by asking “why” and “please explain that further” after some of the answers given by the interviewee. The goal is to get them talking and to learn as much as you can!
3. Fill Out Profile
Use this free buyer persona profile template from Hubspot and fill out the information you’ve learned from your research and interviews. Key identifiers such as motivations, goals, challenges will all come from your interviews and research. Pieces such as “what can we do” will help get your brain going on marketing plans and strategies to better solve for your ideal customer. By adding in real quotes and examples people gave during your interviews, sales team members or other client service employees can understand what people are concerned about and the objections they have. A clear understanding of how your ideal customer finds, chooses and stays with a service like yours is what it will take to create great marketing.
Great Tools For Building Your Business’ Buyer Personas
- Are you using Google Analytics on your website? This article from Social Media Examiner details how to use GA to help research your personas. Read it here
- Hubspot recommends the “MakeMyPersona” tool for quick and easy persona profiles. Learn how to use it here
- Using Skype to conduct your buyer persona interviews? Here is how you can record your calls on Skype