So You Think You Know Your Buyer, But Do You Really?
One of the most eye-opening conversations I have with business owners these days is about their buyers. When asked, they traditionally recite the 80’s definition of their “ideal client” (industry, company size, revenue, title or position, geographic location). This description of one’s target market was appropriate in the “good old days” of relationship marketing but in today’s world of Google that just won’t cut it!
The Internet has created a huge shift in the way buyers make purchase decisions, a shift that business leaders who want to remain competitive and generate growth, cannot afford to ignore. Buyers are coming to the table educated and armed with information. They have a vast and unlimited resource to go to for information prior to ever having a conversation with a product or service provider. They do their homework and uncover potential sources for their needs along the way, well before you find them with your direct mailers or email blasts. In fact, The Executive Board reported that, “on average (and with little variation among industries) customers will contact a Sales rep when they independently completed about 60% of the purchasing decision process.”
Bottom line? As a business owner you must step into the shoes of your prospects to find the triggers that motivate their buying behaviors in order to effectively market your product or service. So, let’s dive into what a buyer persona is, how it’s different from a target market and why developing your buyer persona is critical to your marketing effectiveness.
Old School vs. New School
Buyer personas are in-depth examples of the individual or individuals who make the decisions to purchase what you sell. These prototypes provide real life answers to what motivates and influences behaviors during the purchase consideration. Factors such as what happened to make the purchase a priority; buyer expectations; experiences or impressions that might prevent a prospect from buying from you; steps a buyer takes to purchase; and what criteria he/she might use to evaluate the choices are all critical to getting in front of your buyer at the right time, in the right place with the right message. In essence, a buyer persona dives deep into the head of your buyers and follows them from the point of pain to the purchase of a solution – imagine how having that level of detail about your buyers could impact your success.
Layering these key influence details and triggers on top of the basic demographic information now takes your “ideal client” definition to a whole new level.
Boost Your Marketing Impact
Buyer personas are one of the most underused marketing tools, either because businesses don’t know about them or simply do not take the time to develop them properly. The result? Business owners find themselves spending valuable time and resources on “random acts of marketing” that rarely provide the outcome desired.
Developing a persona takes time, a detailed process, probing questions and careful analysis. Many times, this means utilizing an outside source that has the knowledge and expertise to get an unbiased, fresh view of your potential customers. Inbound marketing specialists can help you understand the power of the buyer persona and help you incorporate the concepts into your marketing strategy.
Once you’ve developed your buyer persona(s), you will have a valuable business asset and powerful marketing and sales tool for your organization. You can now build your marketing strategy accordingly by developing appropriate content that speaks to the needs of your buyers. Remember, “new school” means your marketing should be “customer focused”, not a bunch of brochure copy about how great your product or service is. Marketing should not be about you, it’s about them!
To learn more, get your free copy of our Buyer Persona Guide and find out how to get started.