How are customer personas relevant for your business?
It goes without saying that if you want to deliver effective marketing, you’ve got to know your audience. When you target everyone, you target no one, so it’s vital to understand how to segment your audience.
This kind of target audience understanding is often associated with B2C marketing but don’t make the mistake of thinking there’s no value in creating personas when you’re targeting B2B audiences.
Without defined personas, how will you understand the needs of your market and what works for them? How will you know how to reach them? And how will you ensure the strongest results for your marketing efforts?
By missing out on this crucial process or not giving it the attention it requires, you’re potentially setting yourself up for failure. Understanding what drives your audiences will put you in a stronger position and put you ahead of the competition. Showing your customers that you understand them is vital.
Do you really know your audience?
Knowing your audience isn’t about your best guess, gut feel, or who you would like your audience to be. Successful brand and marketing strategies are based on a deep understanding of the intended audience. Identifying what drives them will allow you to communicate with them in a way that generates results.
Sometimes companies think they understand their current and prospective customers. But scratch under the surface, and often personas aren’t backed up by evidence. Personas must be based on truths rather than assumptions. Taking the time to make them accurate will help you reap the rewards further down the line.
Where to start?
A helpful starting point is a workshop session involving your sales and marketing teams or anybody who deals directly with customers. This collaborative approach can help to give you a deeper understanding of your customers and allow you to build out a range of personas by identifying their challenges and pain points, their role in any decision-making process, their approach to purchasing and who influences them. This will provide you with a solid understanding of who you’re targeting your marketing activities at.
When looking at business audiences, you will also want to know what kinds of companies are currently delivering the best results for you. Where are they located? What sector do they operate in? How many people work there?
Next, you will need to consider who the decision-makers, influencers and advocates are in these companies. What is their job role? What are their responsibilities? This will help build a picture of the different segments within your general audience.
You can then create a persona for each segment – a fictional character based on accurate insights and data. Give them a name and think of them as a real person. During this process, make sure your business objectives are front of mind, and that the personas align with them.
A workshop provides valuable insights, calling on the knowledge and experiences of the people who build and maintain relationships with customers. But for unbiased and objective insights that will help you identify the real opportunities, you need to overlay all of that with accurate data.
That’s the point at which you can start to fully understand the potential value of these audiences and where they should sit in your marketing strategy. Otherwise, you risk creating generic personas that are no different to your competitors.
That doesn’t have to mean investing money in research. You can use whatever information is available to you. Even if you aren’t analysing it at the moment, it’s probably there. Collate as much data as possible, from Google and social media analytics to your CRM and sales data. Find out who the thought leaders in your target sectors are. What are they saying on LinkedIn or in blogs and podcasts?
To gather further data, survey as many customers as possible to find out who they are and what has driven them to choose you. Go deeper with in-depth customer interviews or wider focus groups to gain further valuable insights. But make sure you’re talking to customers with a range of perspectives and experiences, not just your greatest advocates.
Analyse and learn
It’s critical to take the time to collate and analyse all the information at your disposal. Identify any trends you might have missed. And then build those insights into your customer personas.
Once this vital information is gathered and analysed, you’ll now be in a stronger position to identify the touchpoints where you’re most likely to find your potential customers in a receptive mindset. This will allow you to tailor your approach and messaging accordingly. Add this detail to your personas.
With this process completed, you will be better placed to focus your marketing investment, generate strong leads, and drive the results your business aims for.
Once you’ve devoted time to building strong customer personas, make the most of them. They aren’t simply helpful marketing tools; they can provide a reference point across your organisation for anyone dealing with current or prospective customers. If everyone across the business fully understands customer needs and motivations, your efforts will be better aligned and more impactful.
Don’t stop there
Once you’ve created your personas, that’s not the end of it. You need to keep them constantly relevant by evolving personas as you gather further data and insights. Make sure that as your business objectives change, your personas remain aligned to them.
We hope the above is helpful, but if you’re looking for further support – either in creating customer personas, or with developing or implementing your brand strategy – we’d love to speak further. Get in touch today.