Good inbound marketing content strategies start with a fully developed buyer persona. This sketch of your ideal customers, their personalities and their buyer pains helps you develop topics for inbound marketing content that attracts the kind of leads that are easy for your inbound sales department to convert.
Many marketers, however, struggle to develop their buyer personas. “They’re all different!” is a common complaint. Even worse is when sales and marketing departments simply say, “They’re people who need [insert business’ service here].”
Without a fleshed out buyer persona, your content marketing campaign inevitably focuses on your business’s products and services. Of course, successful inbound marketing isn’t about you, and this type of self-indulgent, seller-focused marketing only serves to alienate prospects and force them to look elsewhere to solve their pains.
If you’re struggling to develop buyer personas for your inbound marketing content strategy, follow the four tips below.
1. Start With What You Know About Your Best Customers
Your business may focus on different verticals. Your customers may even have wildly different personalities from one another. But, you need to start somewhere. Think about your best customers, the ones from whom you get the best margin, the ones who are easiest to work with.
Then, zero in on what you already know about those customers. Are they within a certain age range? Do they tend to be male or female? Do they have a certain level of education? Do you know if they have kids? What do they like to read?
Write down everything you know about them. This list of details is the beginning of your buyer persona sketch.
2. Focus On Pain Points
Why do your customers come to you? “They need my product or service,” isn’t a good enough answer. Ask yourself what pressures your customers tend to be under. Are they under a deadline? Are they looking for the best possible cost? Is quality their main concern?
Once you’ve answered these basic questions, take it a step further. When fleshing out buyer pains, it’s helpful to imagine yourself as a curious two-year-old child. For every answer you come up with, ask yourself why. If your customer is price sensitive, is it because her boss is pressuring her to cut costs? If that’s true, then why is that the case? Once you’ve exhausted all the “whys” you’re able to come up with, you’ll have a pretty good understanding of your persona’s pains.
3. Conduct Interviews And Research
If you have the time and the budget, conducting customer interviews and research proves immensely helpful to the persona development process.
Interviews give you the ability to both deepen and sharpen the answers you came up with when you developed your initial persona sketch. How many questions you ask depends on how much time you and your interviewees have, but, at the very least, find out your customers’ ages, genders, roles in their companies, professional goals, biggest professional fears and biggest professional challenges. If you have more time, find out what they do for fun, what they read for pleasure, what their family structure is like and how they prefer to communicate.
If you don’t have time to conduct person-to-person interviews, ask your customers to fill out a survey. If you have the budget, you could incentivize them to do so with a free gift or discount offer.
4. Get Into Your Persona’s Head
Once you’ve conducted research into your persona’s general characteristics and pain points, it’s time to “get into character.” It may seem strange to try to embody and feel like another person, but doing so proves tremendously helpful, both for coming up with content topics and writing your actual copy.
If you’re not sure how to “get into character,” start by reading some acting and creative writing blogs. The improvisational comedy blogger Jimmy Carrane advises his readers to “start with a strong emotion.” For marketing purposes, this means going back to your persona’s pains and the “whys” behind them. Think about how you would feel in the same situation. Then, think about what you would like to read to help you solve that pain.
If you’re able to find out what your prospects read, this should also prove very useful to developing content. If they read certain news sites or blogs, spend some time reading content on those sites to get a sense of the kind of voice your prospects connect with.
When you really get to know your ideal prospects and are able to get into their heads, you give yourself the ability to plan and craft content that connects with them on both a personal and professional level. Once you start generating content that resonates with your personas to help them solve their pains, lead conversion comes naturally. Follow the tips above to develop the perfect buyer persona for your inbound marketing campaign.
Start Today Tip – When writing for a specific buyer persona, you need to approach industry speak and jargon lightly. While you want to communicate your familiarity with their industry by using industry-specific terms, you need to make sure you don’t lean too heavily on these words. Too much jargon sometimes creates the impression that you’re using the terminology to mask a lack of real knowledge.
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