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Developing Buyer Personas that are Crucial to Your Marketing Strategy

On this episode of the Marketing Cave, Carter takes you through the process of developing buyer personas, why they are so critical to the success of your marketing campaigns, and how to actually develop these personas.

Developing buyer personas is one of the core foundations in developing your marketing strategy. How can you effectively market to someone if you don’t know who they are?

 

 

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Here is the transcript: 

Carter: Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of the Marketing cave. My name is Carter and on this episode, we're going to dive into one of the most fundamental and critical things that you need to do as a marketer. And that is developing your buyer personas. So let's do it.

So obviously, buyer personas are a well documented topic. They're there nothing new for most of you probably. But there are some things that I want to cover in this episode that maybe you know, hopefully you haven't heard before. But we are definitely going to go through, you know what our buyer personas, you know, why are they important. And then we also want to talk through, you know, how to actually develop those buyer personas. We have a blog about this on the creative cave website. And we've also created a buyer persona template that you can download and use as you're working through this exercise. So I'll put a link to that in the description. And in the show notes, if you guys want to go check that out, read that blog for some additional information. Or like I said, you can download the template and kind of use it as something to keep your structured as you're going through this process of developing your buyer personas.

So the overall concept and kind of why these personas are really important is really that no matter what your marketing, you can't effectively market to someone if you don't know who they are. And at a really high level who these people are really the simplest way you can put it is these are the decision makers within an organization that you're trying to get in front of. It's either them or it's the gatekeeper to them or the influencer of that decision maker or the person who actually has that that buying power the purchasing power to make a decision within an organization. And  the actual exercise itself of developing these buyer personas kind of allows you to really get a better understanding of what is the most important things to these purchasing decision maker type people? What are their pain points? What do they care about? What do they not care about? What is this something that that is impacting their organization? What are they actively searching for, as a solution to a problem that they have one other kind of succinct way that you could put it is, this is a detailed expression of your perfect customer, based on actual data and market research. So that's how we would tie it up in a nice little bow what an ideal buyer persona is. 

So as an agency. For us, this is kind of a part of our onboarding, or what we call a strategy phase. So when we bring on a new client, we take about 30 to 45 days to really get to know the inside and out of their business, how they position themselves in the market, how they talk about their products, how they talk about the problems that they solve, the time that we spend on these buyer personas is a really critical component to coming up with our bigger content strategy. So like I said, that strategy phase contains a lot more steps than just buyer personas is a lot of things that go into that that strategy phase, but a big portion and a lot of the time spent there is really honing in on these buyer personas. So that anytime that we're messaging to these people, we're using the right terminology, the right acronyms, the right lingo. And that will show up in our emails, our call to actions, our social media posts, all the different messaging that we'd be putting in front of these people. it all stems from having these buyer personas, well developed in depth and really honed in on who it is that we're speaking to. And I would also say that it can show up really quickly in your in your messaging, when you're talking to people, if you're not using the right terminology, if you're not speaking about things in the correct manner, someone who's well versed in an industry and hears you talking about things that don't make sense, or you're using the wrong words in the wrong places, it shows up really quickly. And it's usually pretty evident. 

So as an agency, when we're trying to learn a client's business, it is absolutely mission critical that we know exactly how all our The words are used, the way that we phrase things, the way that we're positioning, the service of the product that we're talking about, it can be very evident that you're using an agency to create your content if this portion of the onboarding or strategy phase isn't completed correctly. And I want to get into an example of that, that we went through recently, a little bit of a story, if you will, of kind of an experience that we had that we learned from where we kind of skipped those buyer personas. So if you're working in any type of marketing department marketing team at an agency, and you haven't taken the time to develop these buyer personas, you need to speed up this episode, watch it through to the end or listening through to the end. And then you need to drop everything and go develop your buyer personas, like I mentioned, I want to share kind of a quick story of a recent thing that we went through with with a new client that we had brought on. So they were a well established client, a well established business, they had been around for a really long time they taking the time to do personas when they first started their company. And they were very active, they didn't want to spend the time take the time to go through that that onboarding process of really honing in on those buyer personas. So as an agency, that's a really critical part, I've already mentioned that. And the reason I know now how critical that is, is because of this experience. 

So being that they had personas, they had taken the time to create them in the past, it wasn't something that they were wanting to skip, they were basically just saying, hey, we've already done this will give you guys all the persona information that we have. And you guys can just run with that to us as in place of doing it yourself. So obviously, we were reluctant, we were a little bit concerned about whether or not that was something that we could work with that obviously is a time consuming things we do understand when clients are in a hurry to get content going get things out the door to start seeing the wheels move a little bit. And this is also an industry that we've worked in in the past, we are familiar with it, we felt a little more comfortable. So we went ahead, and we reluctantly agreed to get moving on this content to start working on it to certainly with the subject matter experts talking through specific topics, trying to get some outlines and some drafts going. And we really quickly realized as we started asking them questions about Okay, well, how do you position yourselves in the market for this specific people that we're talking to? And this this content, or, hey, we're putting together this this workflow of these emails that need to go out to this specific persona? How do we talk about a certain topic to them, what we really quickly realized was that that the personas that they had taken the time to create were a little outdated. 

But the biggest issue is that since they had been made, they had expanded into other service lines, other product offerings, and we're still trying to use those existing personas for these different services that they offered. And really, when we got into it, we realized that under each one of these service offerings, there are additional multiple personas that could be falling in there that that we want to be speaking to. And we need to be speaking to them differently, based on the service lines based on their interests, their pain points, the things that they care about. So through that persona development process is that we normally would have gone through, we really would have discovered and made sure that we were catering content to each one of those personas in the right manner. And what's really interesting is, is we ended up having to go back and rehash all of that, and it even bled into their entire positioning as a company and the way that they were going to market with their products and who they were trying to speak to all stemming from this bigger conversation of Who are your personas, who are you going after I tell that quick little story just to kind of reiterate two things. 

And the first is that this is an absolutely critical step if you're going to effectively market to the people that you want to be in front of. And if you want to get in front of those people with the most relevant original topical pieces of content. And then the second reason I wanted to share that story is because we realized that it's not one size fits all for these personas, right. That's why we don't call it a persona, we call it personas. And those personas can be made up of several different segments. And your your customer base can be broken out and various different ways of people who have you know, very different set of problems or different Buying Criteria or different buying process. So that was that was a lesson that we've learned when onboarding a new client, even if you feel comfortable in the industry, or if the company has already taken the time to kind of develop those buyer personas themselves. As an agency, it is the most effective if we go through that process, if we really take the time to ask the questions to learn the information and talk to the people we want to talk to within an organization and the customers as well. It's really, it can't be understated how impactful those personas are for having the best content in front of the right people.

 Another thing to think about with this example is that as your company or your clients expand and move into new markets, or come up with new service offerings or different products, this is a good exercise to do each time one of those type of expansions is made. And I would even maybe even go as far to say that you should revisit these personas every 1218 months just to make sure that who you you're talking to is continually being the most relevant as companies grow and pivot and change. This definitely can be a living breathing, a persona exercise that continues to be an iterative process for you. 

Okay, so now that we kind of understand the importance of these buyer personas, and why they're so critical, let's jump into how to go about actually creating these buyer personas. So the first step that we like to take is, is to get everyone within an organization who has any type of insight on your customers. So this usually does involve, you know, Sales and Marketing Leaders. But the other thing to think about is who in your organization or your client’s organization is actually dealing with customers day in and day out. So it could be you know, your customer relations, customer success people, it could be your operations department. And then there also is an aspect of people who are actually building your product to who are delivering your service, those people are also interacting with customers, they're hearing their problems, they're hearing their successes. And all of that can help kind of shape the personas that we want to create, you're basically looking for anyone in the organization who has spent a lot of time with customers interacting with them, and that really thoroughly understand their problems and their concerns. And you want to make sure that you have enough people that you've gathered up who can really assess your customer from a lot of different angles. And what I mean by different angles is you just want to make sure there's enough people in the room that no section of your customer base, slips through the cracks and doesn't get the attention that they deserve. And that persona built out for them. And then you really want to dive into a lot of the questions that we've got in the template on our site that you can download and use yourself.

 But you really want to dive into what makes these people tick, what do they care about? What are their concerns? What are their? What are their job titles? What are their interests? What are their family lives, like all of these things that kind of start to paint this picture of who these people are that you want to get in front of. And what we've realized is as you go through this process of really digging into to the concerns and the problems and the issues that your existing customers had or do have, you can really start to extrapolate that there are probably other people out there in the market in a similar space, that probably are having the same issues and problems. So as you talk to the people within your four walls, they should start to really give you a good insight into what are these people care about? What are they out searching for, or what was the issue they were having before they found your solution. And you can start to create content based on those insights from the people that talk to your customers on a regular basis. There's another very critical step to this, I would say and then that's actually talking to those customers. So the simplest way that we found is to send out a survey. So we'll send out a survey to a select group of customers based off of any given number of characteristics. So customers that have been around the longest customers that are brand new customers, maybe that have had issues in the past and you want to get their insights on things, each one of those different segments of customers will probably have very specific questions that you want to ask for customers who have been around a long time, what's made you stay? Why have you been so loyal to us? Or our product? For new customers? Hey, what was what was it that you were looking for? When you're searching for a solution? What made you choose us over our competitors? 

And then if there are customers that you've had, who have been upset or or who have needed some extra attention. Hey, what could we have done better? Where did we slip up? What was it that made you frustrated, all of these questions that you'll ask will really start to give you a good insight into all the different customer segments and the different versions of your customers and what they care about. And ultimately, that will shape a big portion of your content strategy moving forward. So between talking to your existing people in your organization, and going through and sending out these surveys and talking to customers, we figured out that it's a pretty time intensive exercise. So the odds of you being able to get everyone in your company into a room or on a call, and hash all of this out in one setting is very unlikely. And the other thing is, if you've got a ton of people in the room room, a lot of ideas can start to be bounced off of each other. And it can become this iterative process. So you want to try to keep the conversation very succinct. And you probably want to keep the conversation to an hour, hour and a half at most. So what we usually will do will break them out over a week or two and maybe have a couple hour long segments maybe with different departments together or will mix a few people from each department in one meeting. So there's not too many cooks in the kitchen, if you will. Sometimes it can be so many people in a meeting that you really don't even get into the meat of things because things just go in a circle. So you'll figure it out with your with your group of people that you're getting together. But we would suggest not having too terribly many in one meeting at a time. And also making sure that you've taken the time to meet with every different department that can contribute to these personas. 

And the last thing we want to cover when it comes to these personas is is don't forget the negative personas as well, right, I'm sure you can uncover some of the opposite traits from your personas, right. So if you wanted to go look at at customers that had a high churn rate or or had a low retention, if you will, the other things that you want to look for is, you know, deals that came through that were not ideal size. So if the actual revenue from a certain agreement was lower than others, maybe that's an identifier to say, That's not someone that's ideal for us to work with in the future, you want to keep that in the back of your mind when you're creating content. So it's also a possibility that these people need a product or service that is greater than yours, or has more capabilities or have more people on staff to cover what they need. So it's kind of about finding where you fit and also understanding if maybe someone who's searching for you is not a good fit. 

So having those negative personas is also a good exercise, just to keep in the back of your mind as you're going through creating content, making sure that you understand there is probably a group of people or a segment that maybe isn't the right fit for your organization. So what works for us specifically, and kind of the way that we go about these personas that maybe is different from what you've seen in the past, what most people do is one kind of key component where a lot of the times it's common to go give them you know, these personas a name and a stock photo. And usually there's some like alliteration in there, where it's like ITN, or landscape or Larry or whatever those you know, silly little names and photos are and and for us personally, as an agency, we try to avoid doing that. And the reason that we do that is we've just found that, that when we create these personas, and we're distributing them to the sales team, and we're using them internally in our marketing, we want those two groups of people, the sales and marketing folks to really focus on the intricacies of the persona, and not the, you know, the alliterative nicknames and the awkward, you know, stock photos, because really, that that doesn't bring any value, right? We want people to focus on the actual attributes, and descriptions and what makes these people tick, as opposed to getting hung up on a picture or a name or something that really isn't necessary, in our opinion. 

And I just alluded to at a second ago, but some of the other benefits that we want to make sure are clear is going through and taking the time to create these buyer personas is also something very, very beneficial for your sales team, right? You want to make sure that your sales team is all on the same page when they're communicating or talking to clients or potential clients, you want to make sure that the way they're positioning you guys is the same way. And when you onboard a new salesperson or any person for that matter, this should be a part of what they go through is learning these personas of who is the ideal customer for your company. So again, for the sales team, this can really inform them on the types of conversations that they're going to be having, how they should be positioning those conversations, and then also can help them out with with common objections that they might hear from potential clients when they're working through talking to different segments.

 And then one final benefit that we've really seen from going through and creating these personas for our clients is when you go to ramp up your inbound marketing efforts with paid media, which is something we'll get to later, when you go to create those audiences. And I'm really alluding to specifically LinkedIn, that's been a huge success for us, because we live so much in the b2b space. But when you go and create those, those audiences that you want to put content in front of, it's a pretty straightforward process, you know that you've created a piece of content for a very specific audience. And you know, all the descriptors or targeting criteria that you need to put into LinkedIn to get in front of those people. So you can leverage all of that information to go build those audiences, you know, what industry they're in, you know, their job title, you know, their seniority and the number of years they've been in the industry, you can target the size of company that they work at all these different things that in theory should have been hashed out in those personas can be applied directly to your paid campaigns when you're trying to boost that content and get it in front of the exact segment of potential people that you want to work with. 

And we've seen a lot of success with that at creative cave of really leveraging the content that we've created, get in front of the right people. So leveraging paid media to expediteyour inbound marketing efforts is a completely different episode that will get to for sure in the future, but did want to reiterate that the persona process is not only beneficial to your content, but it really can drive a lot of success from your paid targeting and your paid campaigns as well. So hopefully that was beneficial to you guys talking through why buyer personas are so important, so critical, kind of how to dive in on how to actually create those personas, some of the steps involved, and then also all the benefits that come from that.

 So again, you can go check out the blog that we wrote on this, download that that actual template that you can use to kind of walk through the process of building out those personas. And let us know what you think. Leave a comment, shoot us a message on social media. We appreciate you joining us for this We hope this was beneficial for you. There is a lot more of this to come and future episodes. So please subscribe, follow us on social keep up with what we're doing. And thank you so much for being here with us. We'll see you guys in the next one. 

 

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