The internet has a plethora of articles on the importance of buyer personas, each with their own unique definition. The common thread is the appreciation that understanding your buyer personas is the heart and soul of your marketing program. It will determine if your website, content, and demand generation will resonate with your buyers or fall short.
While much has been written about buyer personas, and the importance of truly understanding more than just the fundamentals of who they are, a surprising number of companies either have not formally developed them, or are guessing who they are, or just substituting demographics for a formal persona. In fact, 60-70% of B2B marketers admit that they don’t truly understand their buyers. (SiriusDecisions, 2016)
As a marketer, this is unconscionable as EVERY aspect of your marketing program should be tied to a specific buyer persona at a specific stage in the buyer’s journey. This includes the UX/UI of your website, the subject matter of the content, the type of content, and distribution of that content. The company who understands and implements this approach wins.
What is a Buyer Persona?
A buyer persona is far more than just a person’s demographics, a one-dimensional profile, or even a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer.
A well-developed buyer persona tells you what factors prospective customers are evaluating, who they are seeking advice from, and where they are going for information and third party verification as they weigh their options to address a problem that your company resolves.
Fun Fact: In fact, research from the Aberdeen Group reveals that marketers, who align content to specific stages of the buyer's journey, yield 73% higher conversion rates.
Prevail Marketing Process
Understanding your buyer personas, their sentiments, and the buyer’s Journey is so critical to your success that Prevail Marketing incorporates our buyer persona process into all our engagements. It is no longer sufficient to simply understand your target market. To achieve a relationship with the customer, you must understand what drives them to want to engage your business. We have optimized the user experience, through a two-step process, by establishing the buyers’ journey and the buyer Insight report. These steps are designed to optimize the user-experience. They involve actual interviews that range from 30 – 60 minutes in length.
We are ardent believers in the process that the godmother of buyer personas, Adele Revella, CEO of Buyer Persona Institute, has developed. Like many who have taken her course and read her books, we have added our own elements, but the foundation is the same. I encourage those who want to understand the real nuances to either take her masterclass or buy her book.
During this phase of the process, our brand journalist will interview your internal stakeholders to establish what you envision are your buyers’ needs and pain points. The internal stakeholders usually include senior management, marketing personal, and the sales department. Clients are often amazed at the misalignment between these departments. The buyer’s journey report will allow you to prioritize the marketing resources to develop the necessary content that the buyer needs to see at each stage of their evaluation in order for them be able to take the next step.
We will establish the optimal user journey map that will remove any barriers or frustrations that a user encounters when they visit your site.
Why is it important to interview all the relevant internal stake holders?
Companies who have exceeded revenue goals interviewed their executive team 70.6% and their sales department 58.8% of the time (Cintell, 2016)
Buyers’ Insight Report
Who are the primary decision makers and their influencers in the buyer journey? In order to create relevant content and design effective lead generation strategies, our first mission is to identify and understand the most important buyer personas and the critical elements that they need to see to take that next step of engagement.
At the outset of the engagement ,we conduct in-depth interviews with customers. We try to specifically target those who just completed the buyer’s journey, so their use of the product or service does not influence their answers. This information will serve to establish the buyer insights and sediments report, and the content that needs to be created to successfully engage them.
We extend this interview process to closed/lost opportunities from whom we often get the most relevant information. Obviously, if a targeted persona became a client, you did enough things right to acquire their business. But, for lost opportunities, you did not. Understanding what could or should have been done is instrumental in ensuring you close the loop for prospects.
Our final interviews are with industry experts who can share with us the industry trends that may impact your marketing/sales initiatives.
Why is it important to interview all the relevant customers and lost opportunities?
Companies, who have exceeded revenue goals, conducted qualitative interviews of both customers and lost opportunities 82.4% of the time. (Cintell, 2016)
We know that the development of buyer personas is not a one and done activity, so to ensure the information remains relevant, we continue to interview both customers and lost opportunities on a quarterly basis. On an ongoing basis, we would recommend interviewing 2-8 new customers and 2-8 companies that did not engage with you after a trial or demonstration.
Companies that exceeded lead and revenue goals were 7.4X as likely to have updated their personas in the last 6 months.
What is learned from this extensive interview process?
Priority Initiatives – What made the problem or need become an urgent priority for the buyer (i.e. what triggered the search for a solution?)
Success Factors – What are the buyer’s expectations for success? (From both a business and personal standpoint.)
Perceived Barriers – What barriers prevented this buyer from choosing your company?
Buying Process – What process would make it easy for this buyer to choose your company? (This covers the buyer’s Journey from what triggers the search for a solution, the research done, who accessed the solutions, and who had input into the decision. For each person, we need to understand their needs and what resources they consult to learn and evaluate (blogs, social media, influencers, etc.)
Decision Criteria – What criteria did this buyer use to compare options? (Will tell us how the buyer weighed their options.)
In case you still are not convinced the buyer persona process we use is worth the time and effort, please consider the following:
A MarketingSherpa case study found that buyer personas added the following value:
- 900% increase in length of visit,
- 171% increase in marketing-generated revenue,
- 111% increase in email open rate,
- 100% increase in the number of pages visited. (Act-On)
If our process still seems bit confusing, here is a flow chart that will help illustrate it better. Just click to download!