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Buyer personas. The basics.

Big brands have clients. Big brands sell.

You too can have clients. You just haven’t discovered any of them… yet. Particularly if you’ve just created a breath-taking website.

So, how do you get people to know you better? How do you let them find out about your brand? How do you make them trust you?

By creating a buyer persona’s profile.

What does a buyer persona look like?

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Image source: Flickr cc

It doesn’t matter if you’re a marketing rookie. Some things are easy to understand even for the greatest newbie. And one of them is this: online marketing strategies usually revolve around one very important idea: selling yourself.

Say you’re in the business of creating products. Designing them for your personal portfolio is useful in the long run. Once you’ve shown the world how good you are, you have to get yourself some paying customers. But, from the plethora of individuals accessing your site every day, how many of them could actually purchase your services?

In 2002, when someone thought about constructing a definition for the buyer persona concept, they came up with this:

Buyer personas are research-based archetypal (modeled) representations ofwho buyers are, what they are trying to accomplish, what goals drive their behavior, how they think, how they buy, and why they make buying decisions (Today, I now include where they buy as well as when buyers decide to buy).

That’s all right, but how does your actual buyer persona look like? We hate to disappoint you, but that’s something you have to find out by yourself. Or hire somebody that works closely with you in discovering your clients’ needs and expectations.

An ideal reader is a human being. Just as any other human being, they have a gender, hobbies and interests, as well as an education, an occupation and a limited amount of spare time. You have to understand where you come into this whole picture. Do you belong to the personal space or to the time one reserves for keeping a work-life balance? Or are you part of their professional life? Do the products you design help them at work or at home? It is, therefore, up to you to understand which audience you can speak to.

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Tip: Organize a brainstorming session with some of your colleagues and employees and think about various types of buyer personas. Jot down anything that crosses your mind, regardless of how useless that piece of information is. You have no idea how important it’ll prove to be, perhaps combined with some other idea.

Example:

Business persona no. 1

Joe is a 29 year old struggling entrepreneur. He’s a marketing major and has a ton of experience in the field, having been employed at some of the most well-known agencies. Around 6 months ago, he realized he hated his rigid job and decided to use all the knowledge he’d gathered for himself, instead of passing it on to huge corporations. He started his first startup, a marketing agency that now has 3 clients, thanks to Joe’s reputation.

Let’s say you’re in the business of designing mobile applications. You’ve created one for enhancing productivity, one for managing schedules and one for collaborating teams.

Do any of your products speak to Joe?

We’d say they do. Perhaps Joe has to keep up with his colleagues’ workflow while he’s out of town. He downloads the product from the App Store. He likes it and he even wants to install some in-app features. But before he does any of this, he decides to check out your website, and even your blog. Because he’s a marketer, he wants to find out how you’re approaching clients and what you’re creatively doing in order to speak to them.

This is where Joe’s journey ends. Unless you know how to speak to this type of buyer persona.

What is a buyer’s journey?

From the point of view of inbound and content marketing, a buyer persona usually goes through the following stages:

  • awareness
  • consideration
  • decision

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Awareness: In another buyer scenario, Joe enjoys the app so much, that he likes its page on Facebook. This is where you come in. You write on the blog and publish regular updates on social media channels. One day, Joe reads an interesting blog title and clicks on the link. He ends up on your website.

Consideration: He likes its design and he’s eager to investigate what other products you’ve designed in the past. Some details that influence his decisionand that incidentally are of utmost importance are the website’s design and your capacity to convince Joe he needs your product.

Your buyer’s journey and your content strategy are sisters.

Let’s switch fields for a moment. Say you’ve created an app with which people can find out about sales in the domain of interior design. What types of buyer personas should you target on your blog, then? You need to speak to at least two social categories:

  • designers, architects or others that are in the know
  • or women. It’s not discriminatory to presume that women generally have a keen eye for colors, cleanliness and organizing spaces.

You therefore decide to write two types of content. One that addresses the first type of buyer persona and one that connects to the second. Creating a content strategy is easy when you’re speaking to a niche. But combining somewhat technical data with descriptive, light information is complicated.

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Here, you have two options:

  1. Either you divide your content into two distinct categories and keep up with updating the both, with equal efforts.

  2. Or you focus on your website and turn it into an interactive experience. Present site visitors with an option from the beginning. Ask:

  • Are you an interior design geek?
  • Do you want to redesign your home?

After clicking the question that best describes their needs, your site visitors will be directed to the right type of content. It’s a minor possibility that they become curious about what would have happened if they had clicked the other. And even if they do, they’ll learn that you’re able to commit to your users, by satisfying their requirements.

To convince people to buy your product, you have to use the right tone of voice. Tell people what they want to hear, not what you want to say. If this basic rule was ignored, all websites would have a huge inscription saying “Hire us!” or “Buy this!”.

Take these key takeaways with you in your content strategy adventure:

  • make a short list of all possible buyer personas that cross your mind
  • understand which content speaks to which buyer
  • start writing only after you’ve made up your mind