Buyer Personas: How to Think Like Your Customers in 2018

May 25, 2018
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The secret’s out: marketing has changed. And if you’re still marketing in the same way you’ve always been, chances are you’re getting left behind. Marketing success begins with a strategy that’s focused on your customers: who are they, and what motivates them to buy? Creating buyer personas will help you learn how to think like your customers in 2018 – and how to effectively market to them.

The Marketing Revolution

Before the digital age, marketers and salespeople had complete control over the buying process. Print and television ads, cold calling, and even selling door to door were effective tactics because they allowed salespeople to reach consumers who may be open to their messages. But the conversation has changed, and the modern buyer has all the power now. Consumers don’t want to be interrupted by your sales messages (even if you really think your solution will help them!). Why? Because they don’t need you to tell them what they want! With the rise of the internet, the buyer is able to research their problems, find possible solutions, and make a decision – all without ever speaking to a salesperson.

Did you know that 94% of buyers research online before making a decision?

That’s a huge number! If you’re sticking to outdated sales and marketing tactics, you’re probably not reaching potential buyers, which means you are falling behind the competition. Modern marketing is all about adaptability, so now is the time to take the plunge and get started with inbound marketing.

Inbound is all about educating your buyers rather than interrupting them. An inbound approach involves attracting the right visitors to your website, converting them into leads, closing them into customers, and then delighting those customers. When you create content such as blogs, videos, or ebooks, you educate your potential customers, helping them to understand their problems and how your solutions can help. You build trust with the buyers, and when they are ready to buy, they are more likely to go to the brand they trust.

Keep in mind that for a true inbound approach, you can’t just create content and put it out there. You need to understand the buyer’s journey – the path that consumers follow on their way to making a purchasing decision. But most importantly, you need to understand who you’re marketing to. You may create content that speaks to people at different stages of the buyer’s journey, but if the wrong people are finding your content, you’ll never make a sale. To really think like your customer, you need buyer personas.

What Are Buyer Personas?

Buyer personas are very detailed examples of customers. They are fictional people that have traits and habits that are representative of your real customers. Personas are defined by their behaviors and attitudes. Think of your personas as real customers that you actually know and communicate with.

In a crowded and noisy online marketing world, casting a wide net isn’t the most efficient use of limited resources. With so much competition, you can’t afford to miss the mark. Buyer personas help you talk to the right people in the right way – at the right time.

Where Do They Come From?

You build them! Keep in mind that building personas takes time and research. Data is key to building an accurate persona; it might seem fun to create personas with outrageous buying habits and bottomless wallets, but it’s not accurate. Begin collecting real data about your real customers to create your character.

Start interviewing your customers. Monitor social media, buying habits, and their activity on your website. Gather all the data you can to gain a thorough understanding of your customers. You’ll want to know things like:

  • Who they are
  • Where they are
  • How they work, act, and think
  • What their role is in the decision making process
  • Their communication, social media, and buying habits
  • Their challenges or “pain points” and how they feel about them

And you shouldn’t stop at interviewing just your current customers! Interview and survey potential customers, and even past customers who were unhappy with your product or service. They might surprise you with insights you hadn’t considered.

If you’re getting started with building buyer personas, take a look at HubSpot’s tutorial and template for finding interviewees and developing your personas.

Buyer Personas: A Building Block for Strategy-First Marketing

No one wants to implement strategies just because it’s what everyone’s doing. So why do you really need buyer personas? What do they actually do for you?

Accurate buyer personas give you a crystal-clear picture of how to engage particular segments of your audience. When you market to a general, unspecified audience, your marketing is directionless. With buyer personas, you know who you’re speaking to and can show them why your solutions are important to them. How do you help them specifically?

Knowing your buyers gives you the power to create targeted campaigns and craft specific messages to reach each audience segment. And buyer personas are a building block for your larger digital marketing strategy.

A good strategy drives everything you do. What are your marketing goals? What tactics will you use to reach your target buyers? At New Perspective, we stress creating a research-based strategy before launching into marketing tactics. Building a strategy involves researching your industry, your competition, and your customers, and then creating tactics designed to drive results.

If you’re tired of the old marketing playbook and you’re ready to begin your inbound marketing strategy, download your strategic marketing plan starter kit. This kit will provide you with the tools you need to create a strategy built for success.

strategic planning kit

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