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Buyer Personas – Marketing for the small business

For years marketers have talked about target markets. Who is your target market, where is it based, what is their socio-economic class, what is its SIC code? – sound familiar?

Whilst at a helicopter view level this is still valid, today’s modern marketer is much more concerned with buyer personas.

Why so? We live in an age where the most effective marketing is customer-centric.

Every customer has a plethora of choices about the information they digest such as the blogs they read, the websites they visit, the social media channels they communicate on, the TV shows they watch (and on which device) etc etc etc.

As marketers we can no longer afford to club huge swaths of individuals together into target markets and hope we can target them based on a predicted behaviours.

We need to create campaigns and provide information that suits individuals in the format they want, on their preferred platforms, based on keywords they use. We can only do this if we understand at a more granular level who they really are.

The Marketing gurus at Hubspot have created a whole new way of looking at how you target your marketing as part of their Inbound Marketing Certification program which is as relevant to a small business owner as it is to a large Corporate.

What is a buyer persona?

Put simply, it is a fully scoped profile of your ideal customer based on real data and some educated speculation on customer demographics, behaviour patterns, motivations and goals.

Every strand of your marketing activity should be designed to attract, engage and educate these people – persona by persona.

Whether you are BtoB or BtoC, even the smallest of businesses will have many different personas to market to. Each with different needs, challenges, barriers to purchase and therefore ways in which to best attract them.

What do I need to know to create a buyer persona

Your Marketing and Sales teams will need to work together to conduct this research. At Cariad Marketing, we have found the easiest way is by profiling our very best customers (the ones we want more of) and modelling our personas from there.

Need to know stuff, who they are…

  • What sex are they?
  • What age are they?
  • What level of disposable income do they have?
  • Which industry do they work in?
  • Where do they live and/or work?
  • What is their job title?
  • What are they working to accomplish?
  • What is their greatest business challenge or pain-point?
  • What are their fears or objections to considering change?
  • What social media do they use?
  • How do they like to keep in touch (phone, email, website, blog, newsletter, face to face, Skype etc)
  • Then you’ll need to have a think about how your business can help!

The practical bit

Whilst you can use any type of document you want to create your buyer personas, we’ve found that creating a spreadsheet gives you a birds-eye view of all personas collectively, plus it helps you to distinguish and understand the core differentials between them.

In larger organisations where you have both a Sales and a Marketing team, a good tip for bringing your personas to life is to create graphical representations of each persona, accessible to all team members.

Give them a memorable name and add as much detail as you can to ensure everyone understands who they are, and what they ‘look like’.

We have produced life-size cut-outs for one client, who wanted everyone within their sales and marketing teams to really understand who it is that they want to do business with.

Suffice to say, sales to the buyer personas have risen!

Recognising your buyer personas wherever you are

If your buyer persona is detailed enough – the individuals you seek will become easy to spot both online and offline for example when you are out networking.

So, not only do buyer personas ensure your digital marketing attracts the correct people, you can also use them to fine-tune your networking strategy ensuring that you only attend events and awards evenings where you will meet them.

Creating buyer personas is just one aspect of how the Cariad team works with businesses in Hertfordshire to achieve their marketing objectives through inbound marketing. If you’d like to find out more, please get in touch.

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