Hidden Peak Inbound Sales & Marketing Blog

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The Secret to Building Action-Oriented Personas

August 2, 2013

/ In Inbound Marketing /

By Erin Carpenter

Envision your inbound marketing strategy working as your prospects go from leads to customers. This doesn’t just happen by chance. It all starts with intimately knowing your target customers. Assess their attributes, their pain points, how they use the Internet, what stimulates them to buy, and why they need your product or service. Once you know these, create content that will resonate with your potential customers, start building a relationship, with the intention they eventually buy from you. Without knowing your target customers, it’s like shooting in the dark. You may hit the bulls eye sometimes, but if it’s intentional then you’re likely to hit the target more often.

Have you ever asked a business owner or entrepreneur who the ideal customers are for the company and received the following response. Everyone! It still blows me away when I hear some of the brightest minds stake this claim. Believe it or not, everyone is not your customer.

Even if you sell bottled water that may be fit for anyone to drink, everyone is not your customer. In order to determine the right place, price, packaging, promotions and more, you have to have focus on a target.

What About Segmentation?

The next logical step is to segment your target audience. While this is time-tested and widely practiced, segmentation often fall short of providing the insight and value needed.

If you want to dig deeper, provide increased effectiveness and efficiencies within your marketing efforts (inbound or outbound), build buyer personas. The idea of building personas is nothing new. Personas are simply artificial representations of your company’s target market segments. It is much easier to visualize someone specific than a collection of people, even if they fall within a specific segment.

Since there could be countless variations of this persona, we recommend that companies stick with 3-5 personas for the sake of focus, simplicity and efficiency.

Building Buyer Personas for Your Inbound Marketing Strategy

When building a persona, your inbound marketing planning will become much more efficient if the elements of 
your persona are action-oriented. In other words, ask questions that will help you understand what information is necessary to move the persona through the buying process. The key is to go beyond the fluff and include information that will help define the critical stages for this persona’s buying behavior.

The action-oriented questions to ask should fall into the following categories:

  • About the persona
  • Persona triggers·Online activity
  • Purchase behavior
  • Why this persona needs YOU

About the persona

This section involves basic demographic questions, including age, location, and education level. It is important to begin with a fundamental image of this person for proper targeting. When structuring lead nurturing strategies, the demographic data is an essential piece of filtering fits vs. misfits and determining optimal workflow tracks.

Persona Triggers

When describing persona triggers, we want to know what makes this person move (so to speak). Specifically, these questions are designed to uncover pain points, concerns, motivations and other factors that will influence the buying decision. Once you articulate their needs, questions and concerns, you can target your marketing material to specifically address those things. You want to give them a compelling reason to ask for more, return to your site, and ultimately buy your product and/or service.

Online Activity

Where does this persona ‘live online’? What websites does he or she frequent? Is social media an integral part of this persona’s online activity? If so, is this a browser or an active poster? Understanding a persona’s online behavior will help you properly plan the appropriate location and type of marketing activities.

Purchase Behavior

Now, we are diving into the nitty gritty. An optimal inbound marketing strategy encompasses content-based attraction strategies AND lead nurturing activities. Purchase behavior questions dive into the typical sales process for a persona. Once we understand the sales process, we can set up intelligent automation that nurtures leads before they are given to the sales team. This saves time for sales reps and results in more lead conversions.

Why this Persona needs YOU

For many, this might look familiar. This is where you address your value proposition as it pertains to a particular persona. While creating an appropriate value prop is a staple of any marketing strategy, it is particularly important with inbound marketing because it helps to overcome objections that typically occur during the middle of the buying process.

Once a persona knows there is a problem and your product or service provides a solution, you need to prove why they should buy from you and not a competitor.

When the time is right, as determined by your lead nurturing strategy, you insert your value proposition and answers to objections.

As you develop and fine-tune your buyers’ personas, ultimately the questions you will ask are designed to address the following overarching questions:

  • What steps will you take to attract this person to your product or service?
  • When and how will you convert this person to a Marketing Qualified Lead?
  • When and how will you convert this person to a Sales Qualified Lead?
  • How will you delight this person so that he/she will come back for more and tell his/her friends?

Asking action-oriented questions will help you develop more accurate buyer personas. It’s important to ask the right questions, so that your inbound marketing plan is developed effectively. Done properly, you will be more likely to find those personas, get their attention so that your compelling content will resonate with them. This helps build trust and stronger relationships, so that the personas will turn into life-long satisfied customers.

What elements do you find most valuable when building personas? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Topics: Inbound Marketing Personas

Erin Carpenter

Erin Carpenter

Erin has been consulting businesses in digital marketing and inbound since 2010. She loves solving complex business problems for clients, climbing to 30,000 feet in an airplane, wakesurfing, plunging down snowy peaks, and hanging out at the beach with her family.

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