Use Buyer Personas to Grow Your Business

Buyer personas may be one of the most discussed, elusive, and least understood facets of marketing. The key to converting prospects into customers is based on a clear understanding of who you are marketing to and how to get them interested in your product.

The first step in creating effective, actionable buyer personas is to interview the people you are targeting. Don’t fence them in — ask open-ended questions about what they like and what they want, their favorite social media hangouts and websites, and especially what they expect from your product or service. Once you have created an amalgam “character,” give them a name (e.g., Molly or Andrew). Then post their picture and description for your marketing and sales teams so they will be familiar to everyone. Some companies have one persona in mind — but having several is common.

Once you’ve defined your ideal customer, identify what excites him. What would he like to read? What would she watch on television? Address content directly to this person. Think about popular magazines like Oprah. Every reader of Oprah feels that at least one article is addressing an issue of interest to them — whether it’s how to live simply, or how to find the perfect pair of pants.  In every place you place content, direct your messages to your ideal customer. Is she on Twitter? Facebook? Wherever you’d expect this person to be, engage them there.

Content is the watchword of marketing. Creating great content for your customer is the key to success. Know the language that your buyer uses when he searches for your product and target  those keywords. For example, if your market is affluent automobile purchasers you’d focus on terms like “luxury car” or “luxury automobile.” Start with Google Adwords Keyword Tool.

What would your prospect think was funny? A traditional joke or one with more irony that would appear to Millennials? Tread carefully with humor; it can backfire and offend more easily than prose.

Continue to flesh out your buyer personas regularly. You’ll develop a good idea of what makes her tick. Now, how do you mold this knowledge into an actionable plan? It’s easier than you think. Find the problem that your product or service will be solving for your buyer persona and create a story around it – Bob is a small business owner, Bob isn’t backing up his data, Bob’s hard drive crashes, Bob doesn’t have a small business anymore. Identifying these “pain points” and showing how your product can eliminate them from your prospect’s life will make the product invaluable to your prospect. A good book to start with to show you how to explain your product to anyone is The Art of Explanation: Making your Ideas, Products, and Services Easier to Understand by Lee Lefever of Common Craft. It will help you wow your personas, and the customers they represent!

Roman Kniahynyckyj is a Cleveland-based business consultant, inbound marketing strategist, and blogger. His last name looks hard to say but it’s pronounced Na-ha-nicky.