Imagine your perfect customer or client: Did you enjoy doing business with his or her company? Would you want to do business with more companies just like that one in the future? I thought so.
Inbound marketing helps make that scenario a reality. By focusing on buyer personas that represent your ideal customers, an inbound marketing strategy generates more leads for your business that you actually want to do business with.
However, as inbound marketing becomes an increasingly popular marketing approach for businesses of every size, there’s certainly more people that are going to get it wrong, including the creation of buyer personas.
It’s important to remember why buyer personas exist in the first place: to help you create a human-to-human (or H2H) interaction with your prospects and customers. When you shift your focus from B2B or B2C and instead concentrate on an H2H experience, your inbound marketing results take off.
Here are four major points to remember when creating buyer personas for your H2H marketing strategy – and why they’re essential to your inbound marketing efforts:
Create Fiction, Not Just Facts
A buyer persona is a fictional avatar of your ideal customer – not just a smattering of facts and demographics. Targeting general demographics is an old-school, outbound methodology – and not one that resonates with your actual prospects or current clients.
When you create your persona’s avatar, you should include several “fictional” elements to go with him or her, such as a photo, a name, an educational background, factors that influence his or her decision-making and specific pains and problems that he or she faces on a regular basis. While some of these details seem unnecessary, they’re essential to developing empathy with your actual buyers.
Consider this example persona for a business services company:
Name: HR Manager Matthew
Other job titles: HR Associate, VP of HR (at smaller companies)
Education: B.S. in Business Administration, M.S. in Human Resources
Income level: $55,000 - $75,000
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Goals: Matthew is looking for HR management software to make hiring and termination processes more efficient. Matthew wants to advance his career and so needs a solution that makes him look good to his boss.
Challenges: Matthew struggles to find an integrated solution that handles every aspect of his company’s HR functions. He’s also having trouble finding a solution that appeals to both the older, less tech-savvy HR associates at his company.
Working environment: Matthew reports to the VP of HR and/or the CEO of his company and has two HR associates that work underneath him. Since he’s at a medium-sized firm, his schedule is packed and he only has a little time for searching and learning about new HR solutions. Matthew most frequents blogs like SHRM and Select International.
Create Quality, Not Quantity
Many times, business owners and outbound marketers try to create buyer personas that are so broad and undefined that the persona could nearly fit anyone in their entire industry – including non-decision makers and those that aren’t a good customer fit. This outdated way of thinking assumes that if you get as many people to listen to you as frequently as possible, someone is bound to buy, but all this approach achieves is the generation of more noise that turns off the uninterested masses and genuine prospects alike.
On the flip side, inbound marketing is all about the quality of leads and customers, not just quantity. When you focus on a specific buyer persona, your messaging is so specific that it repels site visitors to whom you don’t want to sell – including those that would never buy anyway. However, this specific messaging resonates with your ideal buyer, drawing him or her further into your sales funnel because your content solves his or her specific pains and problems.
Create An Experience, Not Just A Design
Creating an H2H conversation with your prospects and customers isn’t just about creating a buyer persona and letting it collect dust on your virtual shelf. Now that you have a defined persona, you need to create an experience for that ideal buyer throughout every aspect of your marketing strategy, including:
- Your website design
- Your social media strategy
- Your word-of-mouth marketing strategy
- Your sales funnel
That last bullet deserves more in-depth exploration: From prospects' initial visit on your website to their final signature on the dotted line, you need to create a remarkable sales funnel experience that guides them to the best solution to solve their pains and problems. When your sales funnel experience resonates with their pains and problems – and presents remarkable solutions to those pains – your business starts closing more sales than ever before.
Create A Conversation, Not Just A Transaction
A lot of businesses are jumping on the H2H and inbound marketing bandwagon because they’ve recognized that buyer behavior has changed and they’ve heard about the incredible popularity and ROI of these marketing approaches. But, in all the hubbub and noise, many marketers forget the key principle that drives human-to-human and inbound marketing: empathy.
Empathy isn’t just about completing a transaction – it’s about creating a conversation with your ideal customers. When you craft detailed buyer personas that reflect your actual buyers, when you listen to prospects on social media, when you answer their questions in blog posts, when you provide them with resources via content offers and when you treat them like a human being throughout your sales process, then they’re more likely to do business with you. And, yes, all of those tactics have an incredible ROI – but only when you start with a conversation, not the transaction.
Hopefully these points about buyer personas have gotten you to think differently about your H2H marketing strategy. When you put these principles into practice through inbound marketing, you soon appreciate your sustained increase in revenue.
Start Today Tip – Take some time to slow down and create a detailed buyer persona for your business. Think about his or her pains – as well as his or her goals. Add extraneous details that help you develop empathy with your buyer avatar. Then craft an H2H marketing strategy that creates a conversational experience between your business and this buyer persona. After you shift your approach, start noticing which aspects of your experience and conversations are working and capitalize on those opportunities.
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