Recently, a large Minnesota-based financial services company introduced its new brand to an enthusiastic employee audience, capping several months of work involving scores of people and insightful research, which has identified the firm’s target customer or persona: families.
No matter the industry, companies are competing for customer mindshare, and market share. Companies that create a strong affinity with its customers grow faster and retain customers longer. And to build that strong affinity, you must understand your customers—or personas.
According to Entrepreneur, “Eighty-five percent of marketing leaders believe it’s important to create buyer personas.”
What are Buyer Personas?
Inbound marketing thought leaders, HubSpot, helps define the buyer persona:
“Buyer personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They help you understand your customers (and prospective customers) better, and make it easier for you to tailor content to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different groups.
The strongest buyer personas are based on market research as well as on insights you gather from your actual customer base (through surveys, interviews, etc.). Depending on your business, you could have as few as one or two personas, or as many as 10 or 20.”
Most B2B companies that I consult and write for have anywhere between one and five personas. For instance, I’m helping write hundreds of new web pages for a Minnesota-headquartered global manufacturing company. Through exhaustive research, including hundreds of interviews with customers and prospects, the company settled on five distinct personas, each representing a unique customer/industry segment. A few of these personas include contractors, homeowners, and vehicle service professionals.
How Do Buyer Personas Help Improve Your Marketing?
Remember, buyer personas help you better understand the problems your customers are trying to solve. Indeed, it's best to document the motivations, goals, and frustrations of your customers in unsparing detail for each of your personas.
With this information in hand, it’s easier to create compelling narratives and marketing campaigns that will resonate with your target persona. Through in-depth research, the above manufacturing company created an insightful profile of its contractor customer. He's motivated by business growth; has a large team and feels accountable for their livelihood.
He wants to find the best products at the best price and wants to learn about new products that will help him get his job done better and faster. Lastly, we know he gets frustrated when he can’t find materials online.
Good persona analysis by companies also includes what are called voice and tone guidelines, which will help you create messaging and marketing materials that appeal directly to your customer or prospect. Guidelines established for the contractor persona mentioned above include:
- It’s ok to be informal and conversational as long as we're still clear.
- We should be proud of our products but never come off as arrogant.
- Empathize with customer problems to show we care and understand their challenges.
- Use industry jargon if it helps make a point.
The company website is often your best opportunity to speak directly to your company’s personas and help them understand how you’re in the best position to help them solve their business challenges.
The regional security company Wellington Security Systems does a great job of specifying five personas on its homepage (inviting the visitor to click on one): Business owners, homeowners, property managers, facilities managers and general contractors. Each persona addresses a pain point unique to that industry. With a simple acknowledgment, Wellington demonstrates how it understands its prospect’s challenges and problems:
“Worry-Free Security and Fire Systems: Because facilities managers already have a lot on their plates.”