When we're talking about Inbound Accountable Marketing to our clients be they insurance, financial services or any other business that sells a product or service to customers the subject of Buyer Personas is discussed. At first, we often see a quizzical look on people's faces until we support the subject with the term 'ideal customers'.
Buyer Personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. Buyer Peronas help you and us understand your customers (and prospective customers) better, and make it easier for you to tailor content to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different groups.
The strongest buyer personas are based on market intelligence (a.k.a. research) as well as on insights you gather from your actual customer base (through surveys, interviews, etc.). Depending on your business, you could have as few as one or two personas, or as many as 10 or 20. We recommend our clients start small in the beginning. You can always develop more personas later if needed.
Whereas a buyer persona is a representation of an ideal customer, a negative -- or exclusionary" -- persona is a representation of who you don't want as a customer. This could include, for example, professionals who are too advanced for your product or service, students who are only engaging with your content for research/knowledge, or potential customers who are just too expensive to acquire (because of a low average sale price, their propensity to churn, or their unlikeliness to purchase again from your company.
At the most basic level, personas allow you to personalize or target your Inbound Accountable Marketing for different segments of your audience. For example, instead of sending the same lead nurturing emails to everyone in your database, you can segment by buyer persona and tailor your messaging according to what you know about those different personas.
If you take the time to create negative personas, you'll have the added advantage of being able to segment out the 'bad apples' from the rest of your contacts, which can hep you achieve a lower cost-per-lead andcost-per-customer (and see higher sales productivity from lead generation).
When combined with lifecycle stage (i.e. how far along someone is in your sales cycle), buyer personas also allow you to map out and create highly targeted content.
We create buyer personas through marketing intelligence, surveys, and interviews of our client's target audience. That includes a mix of customers, prospects, and those outside of your contact database who might align with your target audience. Some practical methods we recommend include:
- Interview customers either in person or over the phone to discover what they like about your product or service
- Look through your contacts database to uncover trends about how certain leads or customers find and consume your content
- When creating forms to use on your website, use form fields that capture important persona information. (For example, if all your personas vary based on company size, ask each lead for information about company size on your forms. You could also gather information on what forms of social media your leads use by asking a question about social media accounts.)
- Take into consideration your sales team's feedback on the leads they are interacting with the most. (What types of sales cycles does your sales team work with? What generalizations can they make about the different types of customers you serve best?)
Here is our Sample Sally example to demonstrate how you actually create a Buyer Persona.
1 & 2
- Head of Human Resources
- Worked at the same company for 10 years; worked her way up from HR Associate
- Married with 2 children (10 and 8)
- Skews female
- Age 35-45
- Dual HH Income: $140,000
- Calm demeanor
- Probably has an assistant screening calls
- Asks to receive collateral mailed/printed
- Keep employees happy and turnover low
- Support legal and finance teams
- Getting everything done with a small staff
- Rolling out changes to the entire company
- Make it easy to manage all employee data in one place
- Integrate with legal and finance team's systems
- "It's been difficult getting company-wide adoption of new technologies in the past."
- "I don't have time to train new employees on a million different database platforms."
- "I've had to deal with so many painful integrations with other departments' databases and software."
- I'm worried I'll lose data transitioning to a new system. I don't want to have to train the entire company on how to use a new system.
- Integrated HR Database Management
- We give you an intuitive database that integrates with your existing software and platforms, and lifetime training to help new employees get up to speed quickly.
This may be a lot to absorb here, but believe me it is worth every minute of effort you make to develop your Buyer Personas. Need some help with the heavy lifting? Let us know. Henderson Robb can help you ramp up your Inbound Accountable Marketing performance and get you on your way to the next level of ROI.