Meet Joe. He’s marketing director for a biotech firm. His background is in marketing, not tech, but he’s aware of the value of digital marketing and has a realistic understanding of how it works. He has a small staff or no staff at all, and he’s a busy guy. While he works for a company that is prepared to invest 5% in marketing, he needs a strategic partner who understands and is expert in creating digital marketing content. Joe is a great client for us. He’s also imaginary. He’s a buyer persona.
So you could also be meeting Joe, a Hispanic professional in his 30s with pre-diabetes, a family with warning signs of diabetes, and a good insurance package. Joe shops online and keeps up with news in his industry, as well as sports, entertainment, and tech news. He might be a great client for your company’s diabetes self-care technology.
Joe, and other buyer personas, are imaginary people who share characteristics your company or practice identifies as things your great clients or patients share.
Benefits of buyer personas
When you’re providing valuable content for web visitors, it’s most effective to have someone particular in mind. This helps you focus your content marketing toward the specific person you want to reach. You don’t talk in exactly the same way with your college friends, your boss, and your mom. So it makes sense that your brand won’t talk in exactly the same way to every possible audience.
You might also have multiple audiences. Your website might be selling to your product’s end user and to strategic business partners. Or you may have different groups of people who need your specific services, such as young athletes who get injuries on the field and older people who have injuries from long-term overuse. You need to be able to reach both groups, but you won’t want to use the same kind of ads or social media posts for both groups.
Start with your current great clients.
When we think about Joe, we’re starting with our great clients. Many of our favorite clients have little or no tech background, but they know that digital marketing offers great ROI and is more measurable than legacy media buys. They recognize that SEO isn’t magic and they don’t think that they’ll get a million sales next Tuesday by slapping up a quick website today. They might be the owner of their business, but they’re often the chief marketing officer. Either way, they’re savvy enough to know that DIY content isn’t the best use of their time.
We like to work with bright people, and we enjoy long-term relationships, so we pull those characteristics from our best clients to add to our persona as we build it. Highly volatile people who thrive on drama aren’t the most fun for us, so we make Joe a laid-back, hardworking guy who appreciates those qualities in others.
Think of your favorite, most profitable, most loyal clients. Let them be your starting point. We found a picture of Joe and gave him a neutral name, but you could use a real person’s name. You could also go with characteristic names like “Millennial Maria” and “Health Conscious Hugo” to keep their special characteristics in mind.
Continue with data.
We know from research that marketing directors in companies of the right size for us tend to be in their 30s and 40s, but there’s no particular ethnic demographic or location we need to focus on. We also know that this group of workers is slightly more likely to be female, but our website visitors and social media fans are slightly more likely to be male, so we’re not focused on either gender. Many businesses sell to specific demographics, and your web analytics can help you ensure that you’re reaching the right population.
Your research can tell you that your most highly converting client works within ten blocks of your office or that most of your clients are young single women with no children. For our example company making diabetes wearables, diabetics and pre-diabetics are clearly the target audience. Research tells us that the Hispanic community has a higher than average incidence of diabetes and pre-diabetes, so it makes sense for us to be conscious of this demographic. Asian Americans are also more likely to have diabetes than the general population, so we might add a Divya persona to our list as well.
At Haden Interactive, we are a B2B company. We don’t need to know that Joe is pre-diabetic or that he has a wife and kids. That information doesn’t affect our sales. But we want to know Joe well enough to care about his concerns and to write in a way that will resonate with him, so we can add these personal details. Broadly speaking, the more real you can make your buyer persona, the easier it will be to ask, “Is this campaign going to appeal to Joe?” and get confident answers.
When we provide useful information to Joe, we can expect that we’ll be offering valuable information to people like Joe — people who will be great clients for us. This is the job of your buyer personas. You may need just one, or you may have several different audiences you should be speaking to. However many you need, make sure that you keep them around the office and think of them often.
It’s very easy for website owners to talk to themselves in their web content, not to their potential clients. A great buyer persona can keep you from making that mistake.