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What is a buyer persona

Define your typical buyer

Author: Zach Dilworth Sunday October 20, 2019
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Successful execution of marketing automation and account-based marketing campaigns have one thing in common: buyer personas. A buyer persona is a representation of the person(s) who typically purchases your product or service. It’s built from the most common type of buyer.

As a side gig entrepreneur, personas will help keep you focused on a specific target as opposed to chasing opportunities that don’t make sense. If you took all of your customers and had to cluster them together with their most common attributes, what would be the result?

Why do I need a buyer persona?

A buyer persona encompasses the important details of your average buyer such as demographics, communication preferences, pain points, professional goals, challenges, decision-making hierarchy, content interests, etc. There are multiple reasons for developing buyer personas.

  • Sales teams, it gives them simple conversation starters and helps them picture exactly who they’re speaking to.
  • It enables designers to create designs that match the persona’s profile.
  • For content writers, it helps them speak to the personas in their jargon.
  • For marketers, it makes it easier to identify communication channels and tolerance for the frequency of those communications.

Decision Influence Maps

When selling to medium to large companies, there are often multiple personas who influence decisions. For these situations, it’s best to develop a decision influence map and insert specific personas who influence the decision. For example, if you were selling payroll services and the decision-maker was the CFO, he or she would be the decision-making persona, but there would be others that influence the buying decision. There could be a procurement persona who acts as the gatekeeper, the user persona who could be defined as the payroll team, and perhaps a compliance persona.

Create a Wave of Influence

By targeting multiple personas with specific messaging, you’re building a wave of support. When it’s time to have the meeting with the CFO, you’ve already laid the foundation for success. Even if the CFO disagrees with the proposal, you’ll have a team of supporters from different parts of the organization that approve which could result in reconsideration by the CFO. It’s not about convincing the decision maker alone; it’s about building support and confidence in those who influence the decision maker’s final decision.

Each persona follows its own messaging table, content map, and buyer’s journey. The point of this is to hit the personas with the pain points they experience so the content resonates with them. The most common failure in marketing campaigns is sending generic messages to a mixed, unsegmented group of people. This is the shotgun approach and has little success.

Generate a List filled with your Target Personas

Equally as important as targeting specific personas is building a list of people that match each of the personas in your targeted industries. In B2B, you can use D&B or Discover.org to generate a list, or you could use Linked In Sales Navigator and target them via linked in. Or, you can build them from collecting business cards at tradeshows. Each of these methods will help you get your message to the targeted personas.

The Evolution of Buyer Personas

In the past, identifying a buyer persona was just an after-thought. Marketers would look at personas to understand who was buying their product – a bit of a reversed methodology. They’d utilize push marketing tactics such as billboards, radio ads, and TV commercials. TV had some targeting criteria based on the assumption of the demographics of people who watch specific shows on specific networks.

That was the past. Take a step into the future: TV has become a more targeted medium especially with YouTube TV since ads are tailored to the actual demographics of the specific users, not just the type of users who would watch a specific show, more like the actual persona profile. You can splice and dice your target audience on different ad platforms that enable you to send highly targeted ads to very specific audiences such as Google Adwords or YouTube’s Ad Network. Take it a step further; Linked In allows you to target based on company size, specific companies, titles, industries, and more. There are more ways than ever to send personalized messages to your targeted personas.

Consumers these days have far more control over the type and amount of information they consume from media so marketers need to utilize non-disruptive tactics to get their targeted personas’ attention. While outbound marketing uses an overt tactic to convince people that a product or service is the best out there, inbound marketing involves a more intuitive process due to its customer-oriented approach.

It all starts with understanding each persona’s problems and desired goals, then matching the content and messaging to each pain point. This is how you deliver the right content to the right person at the right time.