Get ready: we're about to attempt to guilt trip you into creating your own buyer personas. It might seem a bit counterintuitive given that we would quite happily do the job for you, but can you really afford to be spending money unnecessarily right now? Let the guilt trip commence…
The biggest chunk of the information you need to create your buyer personas is already sat within your business, it’s just a case of bringing it all together and spending some time making sense of it.
If you were to ask an agency to do the groundwork for you, they'd have to go off and do their own consumer research (which isn’t cheap) as a means to get to know your customers. Even then, they might not quite grasp what makes your ideal customers - leaving you thinking “what the whatting what is this?” as the agency hands the personas back to you.
Then you’re back to square one, with nothing concrete to underpin your marketing strategy. Oh, and your budget is a fair bit lighter now, too. How are we doing with the whole guilt trip thing?
In essence, nobody knows your customers better than you. It’s just that the image of your ideal customer might be fragmented slightly, due to different people having different opinions on what that ideal customer looks like. That’s why you need to write your buyer personas down – heck, give them a name, profile picture, the works; whatever helps you personalise or target your marketing for different segments of your audience. You could even put them in our handy, free, downloadable PDF template. Wink wink nudge nudge.
It can actually be a fairly fulfilling task, it’s just a case of going about it the right way…
1. Interview customers (and the sales team)
First things first, go talk to your customers to find out what it is about your product or service they were drawn to. If you get a particularly good vibe from a client, offer to take them out for lunch (just try not to ask in a creepy way, yeah?)
Lunch is an opportunity to ask some personal questions to help flesh out your personas’ stories e.g. favourite newspaper, crisp flavour, where they like to holiday, etc. You’re probably best not opening with those sorts of questions, though… might come across a little weird. Keep things fairly straight at the off, asking if your product or service could be made even better (not likely, right?).
While interviewing your clients in person or on the phone is a good way to get to know your customers, you might not get a true representation of them. They could be being polite and not letting on what they really think. That’s why interviewing your sales team about the different types of customer you serve best is crucial.
They speak to your customers on a daily basis. Just having them describe a typical conversation they have with customers can help you visualise what a good (or bad) customer looks like. They might only be generalisations of customers, but that’s ideal persona fodder.
2. Look for trends
The trouble with data is that it’s only data if you make it data… (Feel free to tweet that, guys, that's on us.)
What we’re getting at is, all the customer information is there for you to discover, but you’ve actually got to go and search it out if you want to generate any insights from it – it won’t just present itself to you.
So, open up Google Analytics and get looking at:
- How people are finding your content
- What content proves the most popular
- What links your most popular content
- What sources you need to work/capitalise on
These answers will tell you a lot about your personas’ visiting habits. You might be able to conclude, for example, that one of your buyer personas typically finds your content via social at 8.30am - so maybe reading it whilst having breakfast at their desk? That’s pretty handy information to have for marketing purposes.
Need training on Google Analytics? No worries; we gotcha.
3. Collect the good stuff
When creating forms for your website, use your fields wisely. Is there any point in asking for leads’ mobile phone numbers, for instance? What are you going to do with them exactly, spam them with marketing messages, ensuring that they never work with your business? Come on now.
Sure, let your potential customers tell you as much about them as possible, but only ask questions that you actually want to know the answer to, e.g. job role, website URL, etc.
If your personas vary based on business size/budget, include a question on your forms about the number of employees they have in their business. Meanwhile, in these social media obsessed times, it’s a good idea to ask leads for their favourite social network – that’s where they’re discovering your content!
See, that wasn’t so hard, was it? I think we’re in danger of sliding from guilt-trip mode into full-on patronising here. So with that, we’ll leave you with our persona template and wish you good luck!