How to build buyer personas when you can't speak to your customers
No one likes the guessing game.
Be honest, when you’re out grocery shopping for the family or picking up a lunch order for a coworker, you’ll usually first ask what type of food interests them. This way you aren’t randomly picking a meal, and you ensure they’ll enjoy what you’re giving them.
Consider the same scenario for your content marketing strategy. Even if you aren’t in the food business, the same principle applies to almost every product you’re selling.
If you understand your customers’ wants and needs at specific times during their journey, you’ll increase your odds that they will engage and continue doing business with you.
This isn’t accomplished by guessing. You do this by creating buyer personas.
WHAT MAKES A SUCCESSFUL BUYER PERSONA?
In a recent Magnificent Marketing Podcast, a well-known blogger, entrepreneur, and marketing CEO Priscilla McKinney discussed her views on what makes an effective buyer persona. Priscilla said data analysis would provide simple demographic information, depending on how detailed your organization gets when entering its leads. But just using basic demographic information such as industry, gender, education, and location is not enough to build personas that will make an impact.
Priscilla suggested you dive deeper. Consider the things your customers are doing outside of work, their fears, and what motivates them. Once you begin to understand your customers as real humans, with real feelings and emotions, you can begin to create detailed and successful buyer personas.
HOW TO BUILD YOUR BUYER PERSONAS
In an ideal scenario, the best place to find information about your audience is straight from your customers. This can be accomplished with a form question on a landing page, survey email, or simply setting up a few interviews. However, in some situations, you might be not given this access. For instance, your sales team might feel uncomfortable about someone from marketing reaching out directly to their contacts. Fortunately, Priscilla outlined three ways you can still build great personas without speaking directly to your customers.
1. TALK TO SOMEONE CLOSE TO YOUR CUSTOMERS
Who interacts with your leads most often? Probably either the sales or customer service teams. Bring representatives from each department into a room, sit down, and try to determine what makes your clients tick. These people probably have developed relationships with your customers, and should be able to tell you some of the personal issues or problems your customers are facing.
In some cases, executives might want to be included in this meeting. That could be either a good or bad thing. Executives will have a wealth of knowledge regarding your company’s goals and overall trends about the buying cycle of your clients. But just like you, they are probably guessing about your customers. Try to stick with the people who are interacting with those customers on a day-to-day basis.
2. ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR CUSTOMERS
In order to get the information you need to understand your buyer personas, you need to ask the right questions. Priscilla recommended starting with the basic, “Walk me through a day in their life.” You’ll probably receive an answer about their work day. Go beyond that and consider the first things they do when they wake up, where they are going to get lunch, and what they plan to do after leaving the office.
It doesn’t stop there. Really try to get inside your customers’ minds. What are they thinking about when lying in bed at night? What are their greatest personal life challenges? What achievements make them most proud?
3. DON’T LOSE SIGHT OF YOUR END GOAL
It’s easy to lose focus when you’re speculating and building a backstory for your customers. Remember the goal is to determine how to sell to and engage with your buyers. Priscilla said always consider what problems your clients have that can be solved by your company. It could be a service or a product that answers a challenge you’ve uncovered in your customers’ personal lives. Or it could even be a list of suggestions or recommendations that will eventually lead back to your product.
As an example, a company that sells laundry detergent realized their customers are mostly mothers who value spending time with the family. So that brand puts out a guide of 10 fun activities for the family (some of which may involve getting clothes dirty). Remember, not everything in the buyer’s journey needs to be a direct sales pitch.
THE TOOLS IN PLACE TO BUILD YOUR BUYER PERSONAS
Now that you understand your customers on a more personal level, you can begin crafting your marketing efforts to solving their problems. As you get more complex, you may begin to realize you have multiple buyer personas. You can then begin to more effectively cater your brand messaging and content to give your customers what they want when they want it.
No more guessing.
David is founder & CEO of Magnificent Marketing = a fellow content marketing agency that specializes in "blending old school and new school to create the best school of thought." David has appeared on Priscilla's podcast, and Priscilla has appeared on David's "Magnificent Marketing Podcast "- that's just how besties are!
Want more information about personas? Check out The Perfect Persona!