Know Your Buyer, Create A Persona

Last week, a prospect and I were talking about understanding his brand’s buyer personas. I literally got a blank stare.

Guess we can all benefit from some education on this valuable communications tool. So here are six questions to explain buyers’ personas and how to create them:

  1. What is a buyer persona?buyer persona is your interpretation of your ideal customer. It can be based on SEO, market research and other real data about your customers. It also can be made up based on your experience in selling over the last year or months. Seriously, if you get out in the field and online to know and understand your customer, that’s better than most other sources. Here is a great HubSpot post explaining the value of creating personas.
  2. What makes up a persona?It should include customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better. Experts like The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and Charles E. Gaudet II suggest these subjects be addressed in a persona:
    • Title, time in the job, works directly with whom
    • Daily tasks, responsibilities, likes/dislikes about job
    • Frustrations, pressures, concerns and needs
    • Role in buying process, buying stage and purchase drivers

    To make your personas come alive, I suggest adding images and even naming your personas. Sometimes, I get silly and name folks. Bossman, Driver, Defender, Techstar, etc. Or pick people from your favorite sitcom – Sheldon Cooper and his buddies from The Big Bang Theory or friends on Friends can work.  Connecting the persona with a picture helps me too — Bossman equals Mike Ditka, an irascible Boss. Naming a persona might help your team see this buyer as a human being more than just a business transaction.

  3. Why do you need to create personas?Personas offer powerful structure, insights and ideas for your company and brands. A comprehensive persona helps evaluate where to concentrate your time, energy and money. It guides product development, innovation and definitely communications. This alignment will allow you to attract the most valuable leads and customers to your business. Check out this detailed buyer persona template to help you.Want more proof of their value? Studies, like this one by the Edelman’s Brandshare group, show that brands don’t understand what motivates and concerns their customers. A key insight from that study is that 51% of respondents feel brands are underperforming when it comes to asking about their needs. Only 10% consider brands are doing this well. Oops.When thinking about public relations, the value of internal and external audience buyer personas is critical to determining the important things like these:
    • Kind of content you need to create; tone, style, and delivery strategies (and more) you need to develop
    • Topics and targets you should focus on to help continually grow your business; who needs to be “in the know” on your projects (both now, and in the future)
  4. How many personas do I need?As you know, many decisions are made by committee, so you will benefit from developing a persona for every member of the decision-making process.  For many companies, there can be several specific personas:
    • Initiator, influencer
    • Decision-maker, buyer
    • User, gatekeeper

    Be mindful that if you sell a variety of products or services with various audiences, you’ll need personas for each of them.

  5. What’s the value of specific personas?They are needed for each of these groups because you will engage them differently as they enter the buying process at varying intervals, and they care about their own things including benefits and features, costs, custom solutions to delivery times, etc.
  6. When do you create personas?Obviously, it should be at the beginning of your communications effort.  And I would imagine that your team, especially sales, customer service and market research team are raring to help with this.

So how are you creating and benefit from buyers’ personas?

Three Weaknesses In Your Listening Strategies

When we talk to clients, prospect and peers, we find that many brands and companies are weak in their listening strategies, which can be powerful in creating buyers’ personas, messaging and content development.

And it usually comes down to deficiencies in these three areas – no media monitoring and measurement, no social media listening and measurement, no social media brand tracking.

Specifically, brands and companies are missing out in these ways:

  1. No media monitoring and measurement that:
    • Daily tracks all media sources
    • Focuses on print, TV and online social media channels
    • Generates weekly and quarterly reports
    • Tracks trending and provides pre- and post-event analysis Here’s some good tools, thanks Tamar Weinberg.
  1. No social media listening and measurement that:
    • Assesses consumer comments and brand-related category and competitor chatter. Here are great resources rated by various relevant criteria.
    • Looks at tone, volumes and trends, channel breakout
    • Combines technology tools and human analysis
    • Uses language skills across geographies of interest
    • Develops methodologies and metrics to attain valued answers
  1. No social media brand tracking:
    • To gauge brand awareness, perception, consideration and sentiment – the above tools can help. This advice by Chris Syme is meant for crisis management but works here too.
    • To track by competitors, geographies and segments
    • Is customized in frequency, metrics and scope

So what are you waiting for you?

How are you handling and how are you going to handle your listening strategies?

6 Steps to Avoid Brand Disengagement

Sometimes brands go dark in their engagement with customers, prospects, influencers and even their own teams. I call that brand disengagement.

You know how this works — posts become sporadic, content is irrelevant and brand centric, and fans and followers stay at the same levels and eventually dwindle. The reasons for disengagement can be intentional — marketers have given up on or ignored the values of engagement.

Or it could simply be, the unintended consequences of other priorities. To ensure your company or brand doesn’t disengage, I would recommend these six steps:

  1. Adopt the Mindset  in order to benefit from any of the following steps, and to add value to your marketing in general, you must adopt the mindset that engagement is an essential and powerful part of your current communications and marketing efforts.
  2. Connecting Drives the Process – obviously, this critical step lays the foundation for all subsequent efforts. This includes making connections with current and prospective customers and influencers for those audiences. Try these tips from Constant Contact and Social Media Examiner.
  3. Conversations Mean Additions — you can build the conversation with those key audiences through connections. It is important to emphasize that you are not selling or promoting during these conversations. You are adding value through information, education, intrigue/inspiration and even entertainment — most of this is on an emotional basis.
  4. Engaging Is Them and You  your branded communications, content, and promotions can catalyze efforts that yield brand awareness, trial, and loyalty because now you are reaching and interacting with your key audiences. It is essential that this engagement be a two-way and interactive effort. Engaging also means sharing user-generated content to build the real bridges with your audiences. If there are no two-way conversations and sharing, trust me that engagement doesn’t happen. Carol Edgecomb offers this advice on two-way conversations.
  5. Sharing Is Caring  keep sharing content, easy and simple. All communications, content, and promotions must be compelling, relevant and powerful enough that people are eager to share them. Such aim could require audience research and creating buyer personas to clarify what is meaningful valuable to your audience, and encourages them to engage and share. This research offers insights into online sharing.
  6. Advocating Is Trusting  promote user-generated and brand-inspired content and user experiences to empower brand engagement. Recognize and enlist brand advocates. Be willing to surrender the brand conversation to fuel up and extend consumers’ impetus. As such, your brand will soar to the heights. Monitor brand reputation to be ready to full engage if a conversation becomes detrimental to your brand (see ideas about monitoring above).

So how are you assuring that your brands avoid disengagement and stay fully engaged with your customers, prospects and influencers?

How To Think Fast?

Anna Vital has some great ideas: