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The Science of Building Buyer Personas

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"Am I wasting my money on marketing?" Unfortunately, this is a common question asked by many business owners due to marketing's complex nature. It often seems like a crazy lab experiment because it requires constant tweaks and tests. With more digital marketing platforms than ever and rapid changes in consumer behavior, marketing can feel like an overwhelming task.  As a business owner, how do you know you’re making a smart investment? We're glad you asked. It all starts with building your ideal consumer.

More knowledge, power and money.

We’ve all heard the old saying “work smarter, not harder." It makes sense, so why not you apply this to your marketing strategy? Chasing your ideal prospect can sometimes feel like you’re herding cats . Although the thought is humorous, we get it, it’s not fun. You’re busy running your business and don’t have the time, or the patience (if we’re being honest), to track down prospects and convince them to be a customer. 

But the truth is that the way consumers search for products and services has changed. Relying solely on word of mouth marketing utilizes only a small piece of the giant puzzle. To grow your business and develop buying personas, you need to spend time gathering data, observing consumer behavior and experimenting with marketing strategies.

The benefits of buyer personas.

We know what you’re thinking. Saving on marketing while bringing in new customers sounds great, but what exactly are buyer personas and why should I spend my time on them? Kevan Lee from Buffer put it well, “Buyer personas allow businesses to be more strategic in catering to each audience, internalize the customer that they are trying to attract and relate to them as human beings.” Successful marketing campaigns build strong content for a targeted audience. This is content that a specific group of your consumers connect with.

For example, Skytap, Inc., a self-service provider of cloud automation solutions software company, was able to connect with its target audience. After creating targeted buyer personas,it better understood its ideal customers and was able to create content geared specifically for those users. According to Single Grain, Skytap lifted sales leads by 124 percent, online leads by 97 percent, organic search traffic by 55 percent and North American site traffic by 210 percent. It’s safe to say the additional time it put into research paid off. Ensuring your marketing efforts are targeted to where and how your ideal customers are searching is essential to improving your bottom line.

How to build your own buyer persona.

The good news is that building buyer personas is pretty simple and will save time, energy and money in the long run. Don't consider all of your customers to be the same. Some are worth more and others less. By establishing buyer personas, you will have a better understanding of who to target and who to spend less time on. We recommend creating anywhere from three to five personas to start. There are a ton of great templates out there, but Forbes gives a good outline of what to consider when starting the process. Here's how to do it.

1. Demographic information such as income, occupation, interests, gender, level of education and where they live. The good news is that with advancements in digital marketing you have access to a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips. We suggest installing Google Analytics on your website if you haven’t already (it’s free!) and digging into your social media insights if you’ve been active in that arena. This will give you a better idea of who is currently finding you and how they’re interacting with your brand.

2. What problems your ideal customer is facing and what result are they looking to achieve. Discovering what they value can help form a deeper connection. Think like your ideal customers. What problem are they looking to solve? How are they searching? What time of day are they searching? Are they searching from a computer, tablet or smart phone? Considering all of these things can help you fine tune your buyer personas.

3. Find the information you need through interviewing. No time to interview? Email a quick survey and questionnaire to gain more insight into their experience working with your business. Asking past customers for honest feedback will help you discover what they like about your product or service and shed light on opportunities for improvement. Free online survey services are perfect for this. SurveyMonkey, SurveyMoz and FluidSurveys are great options just to name a few.

Knowledge of your customer base has always been part of marketing and being able to think and behave like your customer is key to speaking their language and getting them in the door. Continue to test and improve your approach. In today’s society, consumers value businesses that take the time to get to know them and treat them as people, so make sure you walk in their shoes!

Creating buyer personas will not only impact the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, but also improve sales, products and services. As NBA Owner and entrepreneur, Mark Cuban said, “Make your product easier to buy than your competition, or you will find your customers buying from them, not you.” Take advantage of the opportunity to get to know your consumers and ultimately reap the rewards.
Content Writer: Lindsay Clark Lindsay Clark Former RevLocal Employee

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