Using buyer personas in prospect generation and retention

Published July 25, 2018   |   

Buyer personas are often undervalued in the marketing world — especially when it comes to smaller businesses. In actuality, buyer personas are integral to understanding your customers and how your product or service benefits them. They act as ways to humanize and personalize your product or service, and the data resulting from the utilization of buyer personas can provide insight across all your business departments. They are key to generating leads and targeting a specific market segment, thus leading to increased ROI — one of the major goals of any business. So if you’ve been avoiding using buyer personas, it’s about time you changed that. Read on to learn about how to effectively use buyer personas in your business strategy:

What is a Buyer Persona?

As stated by Single Grain, “a buyer persona is a detailed description of your target customer. A great buyer persona will include everything from demographic information to hobbies, and from career history to family size.” This is all written as though the persona was a real person, who is even given a name. Buyer personas very clearly define your target audience, covering each aspect of their lives. An effective buyer persona will enable you to customize your product or services as well as create marketing strategies to directly reach your target consumer, conveying the message in a manner a personal friend might use. Effective personas are so fully fleshed out that you should be able to immediately gauge what will and will not appeal to said persona, almost as though they were a person you knew in real life.

How To Create a Buyer Persona

Before you can fully flesh out your buyer personas, you need to determine how many general target customers your business has.

Identify Your Target Customers

The first step in creating a buyer persona is to identify your various target customer groups within your target market. A buyer persona isn’t the same as a target customer. Usually, whatever your product or service is, you will find that you encounter different types of customers. These customers can loosely be grouped into broader categories. For example, if you offer a website design service to accountants, you might find that you attract two types of clientele — older accountants who have owned their practices for years, and younger accountants who are interested in new technology. The same marketing approaching would not work on these two groups. So even though your target customers are all accountants, you would have separate buyer personas to reflect each of the different types of target customers you encounter.

Gather Information

Once you’ve identified various target customer groups that you’d like to base personas on, start gathering information on each of these individual groups. Depending on the type of product or service you offer, the questions you ask will vary. Some general aspects to research include finding out what type of company the buyer works for, what the buyer’s role in the company is, age, educational background, family status, career goals the buyer might have, challenges the buyer faces, everyday hobbies etc.

Once you’ve determined what questions you want to ask to learn more about the buyer, your information gathering process could take on any form. You could conduct traditional market research and rely on already existing big data, or you could send out questionnaires and surveys to existing customers and offering a small incentive to complete these surveys. Big data can be extremely useful here, provided you understand how to analyze and translate it efficiently.

You could also use social media to reach people, as well as check website and social media analytics. Another information-gathering method is to use past real-life experiences you’ve had with your customers to predict trends. Depending on your budget and bandwidth, using any of these methods or a combination that suits you should help you gather information about your individual target customer groups effectively.

Put It Together!

Once you’ve collected all your information, you are ready to put it together into a buyer persona. Using a buyer persona template is an easy way to go about this, but you’re free to create your own file structure too. The internet has plenty of standard templates available to help guide you through the process and produce an easy-to-navigate buyer persona.

How to Use Your Buyer Personas

Classify Prospects by Persona

To effectively use your personas, you have to first develop a process for classifying prospects accordingly. Classifying prospects helps to tailor everything from your sales pitch to marketing materials. One of the simplest ways of doing this is to ask clarifying questions, like these for example:

  • How do you see our solution helping solve your problems?
  • Are you more concerned about [defining persona characteristic] or [characteristic of another buyer persona]?

While all prospects might not fit neatly into the mold you’ve created, clarifying questions will help you broadly determine which techniques you want to use with a particular prospect based on which buyer persona they have most in common with.

Track Your Results

Tracking your personas is integral to future success. A CRM system that allows you to quickly select a persona from a custom picklist is probably the easiest way of keeping track of results. In the future, a regular monitoring system will show you important data, like which persona is generating more leads, and whether one persona has more conversions than another and why. This type of data can give you powerful insight and is very useful when it comes to making marketing decisions about which advertising channels to spend on, what branding strategies to use and more.

Use Different Marketing Techniques As Per Persona

Knowing your prospects’ buyer persona allows you to change your marketing and sales tactics based on the buyer persona your prospect fits into. For example, if you regularly conduct phone sales or in-person demonstrations, consider having different phone pitches and presentations for different personas. Your scripts should be varied and altered to suit the prospect’s needs, based on persona classification. If you use email marketing, change up generic scripted emails with creative content based on persona, and send different emails to different segments.

If you want to go a step further, you can use tools like HubSpot to deliver dynamic website content based on persona classification. This means that when your website detects a particular classified prospect’s IP addresses during their visits, everything from call-to-action buttons to blocks of content can be pulled up in order to appeal to the visiting prospect. Generate content on a regular basis, using different blog posts strategically so as to target various personas. This way, you can direct a prospect that you’ve sorted into a specific persona to individual blog posts — reinforcing your sales pitch in an educational yet persuasive manner.

Ultimately, the goal of creating and assigning buyer personas is to humanize your sales and marketing content. Rather than the regular impersonal spiel that dominates the marketing world, buyer personas allow for accessible and intimate marketing tactics that are more likely to attract and retain prospects. By taking the time to create buyer personas, gather data, classify prospects and then using this information to make informed marketing and sales choices, you will greatly increase the likelihood of your advertising efforts converting into sales and boosting ROI.