Author’s Note: Defining your buyer personas is a key step when developing your content marketing strategy. Market analyst Ashley Verrill offers three easy steps to research and define your ideal customer profiles in this guest post.
Customers today are constantly bombarded with demands for their attention, from social media to email to text messages. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for marketers to push their message through the noise. So what’s the solution? Make them come to you.
In order to do this, you need to create something your customer already wants and is actively searching for. And that something is content. In today’s article, I’m going to describe the first step in creating this customer-attracting content: researching your buyer personas.
The buyer persona is a hypothetical profile of your ideal customer. They include demographic information and describe what the potential customer values, wants, fears, and objects to when they shop for your product. These personas help you relate to your customers as real humans, and guide both content creation and distribution.
“You’re discovering what [your ideal customer] is passionate about, which can lead naturally—organically—into a discussion of how you can solve a problem or improve their lives, and why your company is the right choice to help them,” Nimble CEO Jon Ferrara told Software Advice recently.
To create your buyer persona, you need to follow these three essential steps.
1. Survey Your Real Customers
In the most simple terms, your ideal customer means those people with the highest propensity of buying from you. Rather than making assumptions, why not collect data about your real customers’ demographic profile, likes, dislikes, challenges, motivations and pain points?
The best way to garner this information is through customer interviews. Here’s a list of the kind of information you should gather:
- Their professional title or role in their organization
- Key facts about their company
- Demographic profile: Gender, age, income
- Challenges to their success
- How your product helps them move toward this goal or overcome barriers
- Quotes from these conversations to post along with your persona
As a final step, interview your sales team to define the buyers’ primary objections. What have they cited as reasons they are not buying at this time? Or reasons they are still considering other products? What other common questions do they have?
2. Refine Your Persona with Team Feedback
Once you have your persona mapped, create a physical representation of that persona. This should include an image, name, and all of the characteristics you gleaned from your interviews with customers and your sales team.
Post these in your sales room and in your customer service departments. Invite your team to add onto these profiles with sticky notes, a white board, or another predefined process. Do they keep getting the same questions over and over again? Are customers using your product in a way that indicates they valued something different when they were still shopping?
All of these answers will help your content creators better target these personas.
Customer service can also help refine your personas in another way—they can help prioritize your marketing spend. If one particular persona requires more support, follow-up and hand-holding post-sale, marketing might choose to focus efforts on attracting a different customer profile.
3. Validate Your Persona Online
Finally, using these demographics, find your ideal customer on the web and see if their interests/concerns/values match yours. If your buyer persona is a working mom with two kids, find relevant blogs and look for articles geared toward professionals. “How Busy Moms Maintain Work-Life Balance,” is a great example.
Look for relevant blogs on news sites and even competitors’ website. Then open a few articles from each and view the comments from readers. Take note of which articles are shared and commented on most and see if any trending topics emerge.
There are a few more steps needed to ensure your article, blog, white paper, eBook, or other content attracts the right customer—optimizing it with appropriate keywords, for example—but it all starts with defining what kind of customer is most likely to buy from you, and targeting your efforts in that direction.
Author Bio: Ashley Verrill is a market analyst with Software Advice. She has spent the last six years reporting and writing business news and strategy features. Her work has appeared in myriad publications including Inc., Upstart Business Journal, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal. Before joining Software Advice in 2012, she worked in sales management and advertising. She is a University of Texas graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.