Most marketers know that they need a compelling message to win over audiences. And they probably have a general idea of who their target audience is. But many marketers we speak with are not familiar with buyer personas, or how essential they are to their marketing efforts.
Buyer personas are fictitious representations of potential customers. By having specific information on your ideal customers documented, you’re better able to keep your message on target and effective. Every time you craft a piece of content and develop a campaign, you should have a persona in mind.
By targeting one persona at any given time, you ensure your message is relevant. If you try to reach too many people at one time your message might get diluted and lost in the mix, becoming less relevant for everyone.
All buyer personas should have some basic information, and then each business might add additional information relevant to their company or industry. Your personas might include the following:
- Background: role, company, hobbies
- Demographics: age, gender, HHI, urbanicity
- Goals: primary, secondary
- Challenges: primary, secondary
- How your company helps them
- Real quotes from customers
- Common objections
- Marketing messaging
- Elevator pitch
How to Gather Persona Information
The best way to gather information for your buyer personas is to survey your current customers and past customers if possible. You can create a simple online survey and email it to your contact list. You can also conduct a series of phone interviews.
If you company contact list is small (the case for many companies who are just starting to pursue inbound marketing), then getting adequate information through your current contact list might be difficult. But there are additional steps you can take to gather the information you need.
Buy Survey Responses
While it’s ideal to get information directly from your current and past customer base, when this isn’t enough, you can reach beyond and buy additional survey responses. This is not the same as buying email addresses, mind you. Buying email addresses is inadvisable because you’re ultimately sending unsolicited emails to less targeted audiences and you run a high risk of being flagged as a spammer. Being flagged as a spammer will negatively impact all future email you send by automatically sending your email to prospects’ spam or trash bins, and your email provider may cut you off.
Buying survey responses on the other hand is piggy backing on the authority built through the survey company provider. Companies like Survey Monkey have a large list of participants who choose to take a survey partly because of non-cash incentives Survey Monkey provides including giving to a charity and entering a sweepstakes.
Reach Out on Social Media
Another way to gain more survey responses is to promote the survey on social media. Reach out to individuals in online forums such as LinkedIn who are relevant to your company. You might also consider providing an incentive such as a free download or entry into a sweepstakes.
Lastly you could try advertising your survey online. Facebook advertising could be a good avenue for you by utilizing Facebook’s targeting capabilities. Depending on the length of your survey you could turn it into a questionnaire tied to a fun contest or quiz.
Break it Up
If you have a lot of information you’re trying to gather from audiences to flesh out your buyer personas, consider breaking up the survey questions and response gathering efforts into two or more parts. The shorter a survey is the more likely people are to complete it.
You can also break up the survey questions by audience type. If you’re a non-profit you might be trying to reach those who benefit from your services as well as those who give toward your organization. Questions for each of these audiences could be very different and can be broken into two different surveys.
Don’t Rush It
Ultimately you want your buyer personas to be comprehensive and accurate. They don’t have to be exceptionally long – just containing the right amount of information to give your marketing team the details they need to craft compelling campaigns.
And don’t assume you know your audience when you haven’t done your research. This could lead to messaging that’s off target and ultimately produce ineffective campaigns.