What are Buyer Personas and their Importance to Inbound Marketing?
What are Buyer Personas?
Buyer personas provide businesses with valuable insights into consumers when they are searching for certain products or services. In most cases, these are facts about that consumer that no one else knows . . . yet. Buyer personas reveal key factors that influence a consumer's purchasing decisions when searching for solutions to their needs or problems. They are comparing and evaluating the options you have presented them with to your competitors. Finally, they contain specific details that are critical to the success of any inbound marketing plan. Where this is concerned, they have appropriately been referred to as the "missing link."
Perceived Barriers and Success Factors
Perceived barriers are the reasons that consumers will ask when trying to decide whether or not the product or service you offer is a solution to their problems. Additionally, those barriers may arise with consumers because of past negative experiences with your company or with a similar product or service from another company. Conversely, success factors are critical to identifying tangible and intangible benefits or rewards that the consumer's buyer persona or insights associate with success.
Whether we are dealing with B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-community) consumers, intangible successes would include broadening spheres of influence, impressing their fellow employees or their peers, and increasing the control they have over their environment. If a B2B buyer makes the right decision, they may be rewarded with a promotion and a salary increase. However, if they make the wrong decision, they could lose their job. An example of success for the B2C buyer is purchasing a fuel-efficient vehicle that saves them $300 or $400 per year in fuel costs. "Success" for consumers is equated with benefits and most consumers consider the features and benefits of a product or service before buying it.
A Marketing Concept that is Misunderstood More than Any Other
Although the concept of buyer personas is by no means something new in the inbound marketing arena, it is by far the most misunderstood of all marketing concepts today. When online business owners or internet marketers do not understand a concept, what do they typically do? They tend to de-value its importance and neglect to use it. For a business that is teetering on the edge between failure and success or just starting out, that could be a death sentence. Ironically, it's a simple matter of discovering what the consumer purchases and why.
For example, it's relatively easy to gather consumer sales information through the use of CRM (Customer Relationship Management). You can also read blogs, study consumer profiles at Facebook or LinkedIn, and talk to your salespeople. However, what you need to know and the following questions may not be answered by these actions. For instance:
- What makes those consumers tick?
- What questions did the consumer ask and how were those questions answered?
- What tactics did you or your sales team use to overcome the consumer's objectives?
- What was the driving force behind the sale?
- Why did they purchase your product or service instead of your competitor's?
- Why did they purchase your product or service now rather than one month, six months, or a year down the road?
In order to convert more sales leads into sales and profits, you have to know the answers to these questions and the buyer personas of every consumer that visits your website. If it sounds difficult always remember one thing - achieving success never comes easy. It takes a lot of work combined with dedication, desire, and determination. So be prepared.
What You Need to do to have a Successful Inbound Marketing Campaign
You need to adapt your promotional messages so that they fit the needs of the consumer. There are three steps to accomplishing this:
- Step #1: Conduct Buyer Persona Interviews - once the buyer personas have been identified, you will need to interview them. Ask broad, open-ended questions that are not necessarily related to your products or services.
- Step #2: Develop buyer persona profiles - take the information you have gathered about the consumers from the buyer persona interviews and create consumer group profiles.
- Step #3: Target those buyer personas with your marketing - you will have to compose content that effectively targets those buyer personas. Buyer personas are unique in the fact that how you market them is determined by what they need.
In closing, remember that there are numerous ways that you can effectively reach your target audience. When launching your inbound marketing campaign, don't forget how important these buyer personas are. As was mentioned before, unless those buyer personas are taken into consideration, all your efforts may be for naught.