Perhaps you loved creating imaginary friends as a kid. You probably gave them names, personalities, and maybe even a little backstory. Little did you know that your ability to create fictitious people would come in handy years down the road as part of your lead-building process.
- What buyer personas are
- Why buyer personas are necessary
- How to easily craft your buyer personas
What Are Buyer Personas?
Simply put, buyer personas are fictional people that represent your ideal customer. They're imaginary customers -- the grown-up version of imaginary friends.
Buyer personas include business-related and personal details about your fictitious customer that help you to understand and meet the challenges your typical buyer faces.
Why You Need to Create Buyer Personas
You may think that creating buyer personas is a waste of time. After all, you know your customers, right? Perhaps. But, you may not know them as well as you think you do. And you may not connect the dots between how similar (or different) your customers are.
For instance, if you are selling cloud-based accounting software, you might create a buyer persona named Shawn, who runs a small business out of his house. Shawn's company isn't large enough to have an accounting department, so he does most of his accounting himself. He has little time so he needs a product that's intuitive and doesn't have a steep learning curve.
Do you see how creating Shawn's fictitious character helps to shift your thinking from what your product features to how you can help Shawn face his daily challenges? Sure, you may know that your accounting software might be just what he needs. However, Shawn isn't convinced. He just knows that he has very little time and that he needs a program that will help keep his small business rolling.
Using this information, you may decide to offer a 24-hour support line so that after Shawn puts the kids to bed and sits down to do his books, you'll be there to help him. Or, you might offer a free one-hour one-on-one webinar to help him understand the basics of accounting.
Now you're not only offering him a product that he needs, but you're giving him tools to help his business succeed.
Joe Pulizzi, in his recent post, Demystifying Content Strategy: Key Takeaways from Intelligent Content Conference 2016, wrote that "targeting content to personas is a more feasible way to increase our ability to get the right content to the right people at the right time."
How to Create Buyer Personas
So now you can see the benefit of creating buyer personas. But, where do you start? How do you create buyer personas that increase B2B lead generation?
Creating buyer personas is easier that you might think. You'll want to start with gathering information from your current pool of clients. Here are a few ways you can gather info:
- Interviews with current customers
- Trends uncovered in your database (location, age, content downloads, etc.)
- Forms used on your website (ask about company size, income, challenges faced)
- Feedback from your sales team
Now that you have a bit of info about your buyers, let's organize it into 7 categories that will round out your buyer personas.
1. Defining Factors
Think of these as the way a person introduces himself to a stranger. "I'm head of human resources for X Company." Or, "I'm a father of three children."
These bits of information are usually the first to come out in a conversation with a stranger.
2. Personal Details
These are the types of details that you might include on a loan application. They include household income, whether or not you own or rent your home, your age, and other personal details that the average person may not readily share with a stranger.
3. Personality as It Relates to the Work Environment
Is your average client a high-strung executive, or a quiet and calm manager? Does a client like to give due diligence and exhaust every piece of research before making a decision, or does the person trust his gut and make lightning-quick decisions?
Although your customers no doubt have varied personalities, there are likely some dominant types that you'll be able to identify.
These are the kinds of details that you'll want to know regarding your buyer's personality.
4. Work Load
Are clients responsible for 100 employees, or sole proprietors? What types of responsibilities do they have within the company?
5. Pain Points
What are some common challenges that your customers face? This is where your sales team really comes into play. People may not readily share which challenges they are facing, but it often comes up in the course of conversation.
You may find that a common problem for your clients is not having enough time to train to new people, or that corporate doesn't understand that they need more resources.
What are some common objections that slow down the sales process? Are customers worried about the cost of transitioning to your software and the added time it will take to train employees on it? Are they concerned about investing in a long-term relationship with your company and what that might entail?
7. Your Response
Round off your buyer persona with how you can best meet the needs and face the objections of your buyers. Remember, that you don't want to come off sounding like a telemarketer reading from a script, but you want to be fully prepared to understand the challenges your buyers face and how you can help them.
Seven easy steps... that's all it takes to create your buyer personas! Now you're able to get a clear picture of your ideal customer, understand what their needs and challenges are and how to meet them, and thus drive leads.
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