During the marketing strategy phase, it’s important to know the different personalities that make up your target audience, what they care about, and what they need so you can communicate with them in the most relevant way possible.
If you only generate a few leads a month, this is easy to do manually by looking up the company’s website, finding the person on Linkedin, and making your best judgment about the optimal approach to follow up. But as you attract a greater audience using content marketing, you can no longer do this manually because you’ll be generating many more leads, and your time will need to be focused on creating new content and following up on your growing pipeline of sales-qualified leads. So you need an automated way to bucket leads by common care-abouts, so you can more effectively nurture them using marketing automation, or do what SilverPop calls “mass one-to-one marketing.”
To do this, you need to create buyer personas.
Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers based on real data pertaining to customer demographics and online behavior as well as your educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns. With personas, you can put faces to your customer segments and have the ability to better customize your marketing efforts – from messaging to activity selection – and make a greater impact with your prospects.
For example, you may define one of your buyer personas, CEO Charlie, who is a business executive and cares most about cost and long-term support. Another persona may be Engineer Elliot, an engineering manager or staff member who wants to know very specifically about the technical capabilities of your product or how you deliver a service. With your personas defined, you can more easily visualize your target audience and plan your segmented communication with them.
To create a buyer persona, identify the following type of information:
- Who are they? Demographics such as gender, age, and education
- What is their job? Data such as title, company size, industry, and general job responsibilities
- What is a day in their life like? Describe what an average day is like for them, who they are dealing with, and what decisions they are making
- What are their primary pain points? Describe the primary challenges they are trying to overcome that relate to your products and services
- What do they value most and what are their goals? Explain what they value most in making a purchase decision (price, support, etc.), what they are trying to accomplish in each application
- Where do they go for information? Identify the primary sources they use to gather information in their research and purchase decision process
- What’s important to them in selecting a vendor? List what is most important, such as being a technology leader, having proven experience, being a domain expert, etc.
- What are their most common objections? List the reasons you hear most often for why your solutions won’t meet their needs
It’s best to limit the number of personas to three when you first start and then build from this level to further refine your personas and generate new ones as needed.
Once you have your buyer personas defined, you can be much smarter about your monthly content calendar planning and lead nurturing efforts. A new lead generated from a white paper or other premium content isn’t necessarily ready to speak with sales or make a purchase from you. You need to nurture that person over time, building trust and credibility between your company and the lead as he or she gains knowledge of your products and services.