Buyer personas. Those handy profiles that define your audiences. The ones that encompass the hopes and dreams of your potential clients or customers. Chances are you’ve heard the term and have been told you need them in your marketing arsenal. Maybe you’ve even gone through the process of creating them, but now they’re collecting dust in a folder somewhere.
The fact is your personas aren’t going to do you any good unless you know how to put them to work, so let’s take a look at how to do exactly that.
Wait, What Are Buyer Personas?
Maybe we’ve gotten ahead of ourselves. On the off chance you haven’t read every single post we’ve ever written on personas, let’s back up and define what it is we’re talking about.
Buyer personas are detailed, fictional profiles of the unique audiences you’re targeting. They typically include a name, detailed bio, demographic information, challenges, goals, information sources, a photo, and job title or role. The finished product might look something like this:
Often they’re referred to as buyer personas, but in some cases, they might be called brand personas, marketing personas, or user personas, depending on the organization or target audience.
How Do I Build a Brand Persona?
As the physical documentation of your audiences, buyer personas are one of the most versatile tools available to marketers.
We do a deep dive on building personas in this post, but, essentially, it starts with audience research. Take the time to interview/survey/focus group current, past, and potential clients or customers. This will give you a genuine understanding of what drives your audiences and will help shape your marketing as you target them. With this basis in place, you can start to create a profile for each persona. Most marketing teams stick to three to five personas, but others need more to fully encompass all their audiences.
Okay, Now, How Do I Put My Personas to Work?
Inform Your Buyer Journey
Your marketing personas can be helpful as you begin to put together your buyer journey (or journey map). By creating a unique journey for each persona, you’ll have a clear understanding of each audiences’ goals and challenges at every stage. This will come in handy as you start to put your personas to work in other areas.
Adjust Your Voice and Tone
Now that you know exactly who your audience is, you have a better grasp on how to talk to them. Review your brand’s voice and tone guidelines with this context in mind. Are your personas a no-nonsense banker, a dedicated financial advisor, and a serious CFO? It might be time to back off the playful tone. Or, if you’re targeting a gen-z student, a concerned parent, and a thoughtful high-school counselor, your overarching brand tone will have to meet them somewhere in the middle. This will ensure everyone in your organization uses language that connects with your audiences. We should note, though, as you get deeper into segmenting audiences and targeting campaigns, you can push your tone in one direction or another to better align with each individual persona.
Audit Existing Materials
Your personas can also help you take a look at your current materials (e.g., brochures, web content, landing pages, signage) with fresh eyes to make sure everything reflects your brand in a way that will resonate with your audiences. Consider each piece of content and map it to your individual personas. Will this blog post be helpful to Mommy Martha, Retailer Rick or Influencer Ilsa? If not, it might be time to ditch it.
Develop Your Editorial Calendar
The same principles can be applied as you build out your editorial calendar for the year. Each piece of new content should appeal to one of your personas. Review their challenges and goals and find ways to answer those challenges through your content. Consider their key resources and get inspiration from content on websites, publications, and podcasts they follow. This approach also allows you to niche-down your keywords in some areas, qualifying your audience before they even get to your site.
Meet Them On Their Social Channels
Behaviors outlined in your personas can inform your social strategy. You should have a sense of the channels they frequent and the type of information they get from each channel. This can be incredibly helpful if you’re targeting vastly different audiences. For instance, if you’re a college targeting students, parents, and donors, each audience will use different social channels in different ways. In some instances, you may find they aren’t using social at all. You’ll need to know: Where are they having conversations? Where are they going to get their information? Personas will answer these questions for you. This information gives you the opportunity to personalize your content for each audience across different platforms.
Beyond segmenting your social strategies by persona, you can start to segment out your email lists, your blog content and, even your website by persona. This allows you to personalize your audience’s experience at almost every touchpoint.
Armed with your personas, you can start designing entire campaigns to target individual audiences to meet specific business goals. Perhaps you’re launching a new service that will help HR professionals at a small to midsize enterprise better manage their recruitment process. You can pull out your Recruiter Rita persona and create a landing page, digital ads, and emails aimed at solving your HR audience’s pain points. By tailoring the campaign to a single marketing persona, you’ll increase the number of Recruiter Ritas signing up for a consultation about the new service.
Support Your Sales Team
Marketing doesn’t get to have all the fun when it comes to buyer personas. These profiles are the perfect tool to help your sales team guide conversations with prospects. A quick review of the relevant persona before hopping on the phone or going into a meeting allows your sales team to demonstrate just how much they understand the pain points of clients, opening the door to discussions about solving those pain points.
As the physical documentation of your audiences, buyer personas are one of the most versatile tools available to marketers. But they won’t do anybody any good tucked away in a virtual drawer. Make sure everyone on your team has access to them and understands just how powerful they can be.