Buyer Personas – Getting it Right is More Important than You Think

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When thinking about your business and the product or service you are offering, you probably already have an image of your ideal customer in your head. The big question is… Are you lumping all your clients into one giant mix? If so, you’ll want to rethink your ideal customer, who they are and how to reach them.


Market Segmentation

Put each of your unique client types into separate categories – known as market segmentation. Client types are differentiated by specific elements that make how you approach them… well, a little different.

From a business perspective, market segmentation gives you the ability to meet the needs of underserved groups more effectively.

From both a business and marketing perspective, segmentation gives you the ability to identify and speak directly to the client segment. Your business can better tailor your offerings, your marketing and your sales processes so that each segment is attracted to your brand.

It is also a powerful practice to gain competitive advantage, market share and a lead over the competition.

Your segments can be defined by:

  • Psychographics
  • Demographics
  • Industry
  • Company size
  • Webpage views
  • Number of downloads of your content
  • The specific way in which they identify with your value proposition
  • Distinct delivery or even
  • Sales requirements

Segmentation is based on what works for your marketing and sales team to best reach your buyers.

Once you have effectively identified unique client segments, you’ll want to create a detailed buyer persona.


Buyer Personas – The Importance of Getting It Right

Let’s say you own a language school. Who does your campaign target?

What buyer type is likely to respond to a specific ad or that specific marketing campaign?

Will it be parents looking for their children to start learning a new language at a young age or a professional wanting to expand to foreign markets?

They both represent your overall target market, but they also have different goals and perspectives when it comes to your solution.

The only way to create a successful marketing campaign, an ad or even an effective social posting strategy is by first understanding each customer segment and their distinct psycho and demographics.

Once you have segmented your buyers, you’ll need to create a “Buyer Persona” for each specific buyer type you are targeting.

A Buyer Persona is a vivid representation of the ideal customer within each segment. The Buyer Persona defines in great detail, your buyers’:

  • Habits
  • Behaviors
  • Wishes
  • Needs
  • Thoughts
  • Goals
  • life and so much more…

You’ll granularly define not only the buyer’s professional life, but also her personal life. Having a Buyer Persona for each customer segment allows you to have complete clarity about your customers. This information makes it much easier for you and your marketing team to reach your buyer and YOUR marketing goals.

While the marketing and sales process is distinctly different for a “business to business” (B2B) and a “business to consumer” business (B2C), the development of the Buyer Persona is quite similar.

Whether your company is a B2B or a B2C, you must use Buyer Personas if you want to get results.


Common Excuses for Not Producing Buyer Personas – And Why They’ll Get You Fired

We’ve been doing this a long time. We’ve heard every excuse there is for not producing and using a Buyer Persona. When the marketer or marketing manager is telling us why they don’t need one, we know what will ultimately happen.

Nearly every new inbound marketing or website redesign client we onboard has never developed or used a Buyer Persona. At first, they insist they can create it for us quickly. Most of the time they don’t. When they give it a shot, we typically receive a “one size fits most” Buyer Persona.

Then they give it to us to do for them.

When they see the finished product, they begin to understand why (their):

  • Search engine rankings aren’t where they should be
  • Website traffic is so low
  • Campaign results are terrible
  • Landing pages aren’t converting
  • New leads are lacking
  • Lead nurturing is so important
  • Customer conversions are non-existent
  • Their follow-up processes aren’t working
  • The marketing team has no idea what the prime triggers and timing are to pass the lead to the sales team
  • The sales team fumbles with follow-through and closings with both their online leads and their outbound efforts

Despite the enormous importance of accurately defined, detailed Buyer Personas to your marketing success, the fact that only 44% of B2B marketing managers use Buyer Personas is astonishing.

Marketing managers and smaller companies site a myriad of reasons for skipping this critical step in their marketing efforts. The main complaint is the time, knowledge and tools required to properly define an effective Buyer Persona.

When we review the most common reasons for not developing Buyer Personas … well, I think you will see why they don’t hold water. In fact, the irony and outcome is obvious.


Fear #1:

Fear of creating the wrong Persona. Their concern is that it will lead to major problems in achieving their marketing goal.

False: With no persona at all, you’ll have major problems achieving your goal. By producing a “test” Persona, you can run a test campaign.

  • Analyze your results
  • Learn
  • Make obvious improvements to your Persona
  • Run another test campaign
  • Repeat

Once you begin getting results with your first Buyer Persona driven campaign, you will have learned what is required to develop an effective Buyer Persona. All things being equal, we typically recommend starting with the client that has the lowest hanging fruit.


Fear #2

Fear of getting the facts wrong, which will then lead to miserable campaign results.

False. Oh, my goodness. If you don’t produce a Buyer Persona at all, you are going to have miserable campaign results. If you are getting good results without a Buyer Persona, imagine how much improvement you could see if you started the Buyer Persona process with what you know and then began the research to fill in the missing gaps.

The improvement in results and ROI will get you a bonus, for sure.


Fear #3

Buyer Personas take too long to produce, especially if you do the proper research. This delays the launch of the campaign, which delays the results.

False. Launch today with inaccurate or “assumed” buyer information and you delay your results. You’ve spent your campaign budget and your results and ROI are dismal.

This could get you fired.

Educate your leadership team so that they understand the pre-campaign launch time and resource requirements.

Create proper expectations based on the facts. Scope the efforts and results of your campaign over 12 months. This gives you time to:

  • Learn
  • Time to launch
  • Time to course correct
  • More time to learn
  • More time to tweak

In the end, your 12-month scope will return greater results. You cannot create realistic expectations for one-off campaigns. You’ll be in the hot seat forever.

You’ll need to keep asking for marketing dollars after every failed campaign.

This will get you fired, too.


Fear #4

You don’t know how to do the research, so you just skip it.

False. Really? There’s never been more information on how to research and develop a Buyer Persona. This is your job. Yes. It takes time. Like studying for a test. It’s always hardest to get started.

I’m going to make this easy for you. Here’s a list of articles that will have you producing the best Buyer Personas possible:


Fear #5

You think you already understand the Buyer Persona and you’ve got everything you need in your head.

False. I’m running out of expletives that are acceptable to post on my blog. I know you know this is ridiculous as soon as you read it out loud.  There’s a saying that comes to mind… it’s applicable at least conceptually.

He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Abraham Lincoln was, obviously, talking about something totally different. However, believing that to have the details of your Buyer Persona in your head is egotistical and foolish.

And… it’ll ultimately get you fired.

Not only will you miss very important details, your resistance to creating this foundational document will result in a lack of consistency, follow-through and missed opportunity for the rest of your marketing team.

  • There will be little to no continuity between the members of your marketing team.
  • Your marketing team will not be able to identify and perfect the triggers and the timing that indicate when a lead should be given to sales.
  • Ultimately, your sales team will have little to no detailed knowledge about the new sales lead and will not be able to follow-through as effectively

When there is no continuity and when processes have not been identified and documented between marketing and sales (about how to handle the transition and closing process of a lead) you’ll fail to hit your goals in:

  • Targeted traffic and qualified marketing leads
  • Qualified sales leads and
  • Customer conversions

This… will get you fired.

Startup Stock Photos

Fear #6

There’s simply not enough time to do the research before launching the campaign.

False. I think you know the consequences… This fear may originate from the marketing manager herself. It could originate from the pressure the leadership team is applying because they are desperate for results.

Either way, your results will be dismal. If your job security is based on delivering results… guess what?

It could get you fired.

Do yourself, your reputation and your company a favor.

Be honest with your leadership team. Tell them why the initial campaign and Buyer Persona research is foundational and critical to the success of every campaign effort.

Here’s how to handle this situation:

  1. Set a meeting with the leadership team to interview them about the client segment to which you will be marketing.
  2. Tell them you’ll use this initial information to start a beta campaign.
  3. Set reasonable expectations. Don’t try to impress – you’ll only disappoint. That will be your fault. You see where this goes, right?
  4. Tell them this is as much an experiment as it is a concerted effort for results.
  5. During the campaign, conduct the required research to close the gaps of knowledge for this Buyer Persona.
  6. Next, analyze the data and results of the beta campaign.
  7. Share this with your supervisors. Collaborate with them about next steps.
  8. Involve them in generating ideas for the next steps. Why? Will they think you don’t know what you are doing? Not if you handle this properly.

By involving them and tapping their wisdom right out of the gate, they see that you appreciate their industry intelligence. Smart people ask a lot of questions. Even if you think you possess enough intelligence to be successful, you want to ask questions to see if their answers are in alignment with your assumptions.

If they aren’t in alignment, you need to ask more questions. If they are, you need to ask more questions…

The goal here is that through collaboration, you gain agreement. Smart questions get everyone on the same page. Whether you lead them to the respond with information that confirms your campaign intelligence or you determine you weren’t quite right and need to lean into their insight and solicit more information, you’ll end the meeting by confirming with everyone:

  • What they shared
  • Their suggestions
  • Creating an acceptable, achievable target and results for this beta test
  • Next-steps
  • Schedule the next review meeting

Then you move forward accordingly. When you do this well, everybody owns the outcomes.

If you fly solo… create your own assumptions, generate your own strategy and execute accordingly… any disappointments, losses or failure is all on you.

What if don’t follow these suggestions and you win?

Well, you set the bar. Now you must keep winning.

Getting your leadership team’s input at this stage is not likely to happen. They are off on other leadership things.

Good luck.

9. Always create reasonable expectations:

  • Infuse into your campaign the details you’ve learned in your research
  • Launch the next beta campaign
  • Analyze
  • Learn
  • Make data-driven changes
  • Repeat

Everyone will respect you.

You’ll be given much more support.

Your leadership team will be more comfortable about funding the next campaigns and your salary.

You’ll keep your job.


Fear #7

This one piggybacks a little off #6.

False. There is a lack of understanding about the critical importance of having a clear understanding between marketing and sales about each specific Buyer Persona.

A shared, clear and common understanding between the marketing and sales team about each of your buyer personas is the only way to maximize conversions from the top to the bottom of the funnel.

You can do your job all day long in your little silo. The problem is, there is no silo in marketing. Silos are the enemy of results.

Lack of results will get you fired.

There’s no crying in marketing.

As a company with an expertise in the development of effective, detailed Buyer Personas for our clients, we know very well how difficult and demanding the process can be.  

As you can see, a well-defined Buyer Persona will radically and directly affect the success of every single marketing effort you implement.  

The quantifiable value impact of using effective Buyer Personas in developing and driving your campaigns more than pays for the effort and investment you make in developing them.

A quick look at these studies helps drive my message home:

  • When using Buyer Personas in your email campaigns you can expect to gather 2x the open rate and 5x the click through rate (BrightTALK).
  • Nearly 40% of B2B marketers are segmenting content by using a properly developed Buyer Persona (2014 B2B Content Marketing Spotlight Report).

If you don’t have the resources or you’re not able to fully dedicate yourself to the process of creating and developing your Buyer Persona or any other important aspect of a successful campaign, consider partnering with a marketing agency to supplement the pieces that your team isn’t equipped to do.

We are an extension of your marketing team. Before onboarding a new client, we work with you to gain a quantifiable understanding of the value impact and the potential return on investment. If the ROI doesn’t make sense, we will not recommend an engagement.

Want to see if working together makes sense? Give us a call or have us call you to schedule a free consultation.  

Ready to get started on your Buyer Personas?

We’ve provided a complimentary download of the very detailed workbook and template we use in our agency.


Jillian Vanarsdall
Jillian Vanarsdall
Founder of Blue Iris Marketing. An inbound marketing agency assisting businesses, from start-ups to high-growth firms, to phenomenally tell their unique story in a noisy digital world. Our services include inbound marketing, Wordpress web design and development, SEO, and social media.

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