Every entrepreneur and marketer know it, defining your target market is one of the most important tasks and the foundation of your marketing and branding strategy. The better you know your customer’s needs, habits, challenges, the more efficiently you can engage with them, create and deliver relevant and impactful content and marketing messages.
Meet you buyer persona!
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers and your prospects. It is a thorough and lively portrait, of you ideal customers gathering demographics, story, personality, behaviours and challenges.
First, prepare your research efficiently
Question yourself, organize and make a list of all information you think are useful to best describe your customers, and what is relevant for your industry, products or type of business. Below is a non-exhaustive list of what kind of information you might want to include in you buyer persona.
B2B buyer personas
If you’re selling B2B products or services, your categories will look a little different. You might want to describe your buyer’s role and responsibilities in the company, the size of the company, list the key people who impact the persona’s purchasing decisions within the organization, who does he/she reports to…
You might very well need several personas (3 to 5) to cover your target audience.
You might also need a "Negative" Personas, a representation of who you don’t want as a customer (too expensive to target, too difficult, not enough budget, wrong industry).
Once you have listed all information you will need to gather, write the questions you will ask to conduct the interviews (keep it short) and list your sources of information.
Make your research
The research must of course be based on real people, and existing customers or prospects are the best source of information. If you haven’t started your business yet, look at your competition’s customers. You can read reviews online, and even try to track these individuals down on social media to learn more about them.
Your website analytics can show you what channels your visitors used to access your website, the pages they visit, their age, gender, location, language….
Your social platforms insights (Facebook, Linkedin or Instagram) can provide many useful information about your followers. Especially on Facebook Audience Insights, you can set up your ideal audience and notably see which existing Facebook pages are already connecting with people in your audience, and from there access to discussions and reviews about those pages. Twitter Analytics is another powerful tool for insights about lifestyle and consumer behaviour.
Make online research and track individuals on their social media profiles / activity, search conversations on virtual communities…
Set up search streams on tools such as Google alerts, Hootsuite, Talkwalker to monitor mentions of your brand and competitors. See what people are saying online about products, customer experience… other useful tools recommended in this article from social media explorer.
Use tools like Google Trends to analyze activity around specific trends related to your business, industry, or your audience interests
Create online polls (Facebook, Doodle)
Conduct Surveys and Interviews by phone, email, Google surveys, Survey Monkey, with focus groups, for deep insight about goals, values, challenges, objections, with a targeted list of questions. Try to put yourself in the shoes of your customer. What do you want to learn about him? What issues are your potential customers trying to solve in connection with your products / services? What’s holding them back from success? What barriers do they face in reaching their goals? What common objections arise for them? What might keep this customer from closing the deal? And remember the obvious follow up question should always be “why?”
Tips for Recruiting Interviewees
Reach out to your network, existing customers, social media contacts, to find people you'd like to interview and get introduced to (for example 2nd and 3rd connections on Linkedin).
Use incentives to give people a reason to participate in an interview if they don't have a relationship with you (voucher, goodies, discount, gift card…).
Be clear that you're doing research and that you just want to learn from them. You are not trying to sell them something or convince them to buy. There is no commitment for them.
Make it easy to say yes. Let them pick a suitable time, be flexible and send a calendar invitation with a reminder to block off their time.
Complete your persona profile
Process and organise all data and information you have gathered in your research, highlight what is most relevant and write and fill your persona template.
You are now ready to use the content of your buyer persona to tailor your marketing content, messaging, customer service, product development, and services to the specific needs and concerns of your prospects. This will make it easier for you as well to segment your database for each persona group and deliver more targeted messages. And you will certainly start to see higher conversion rates and better ROI.