Jan 30, 2020

Take The Guesswork Out Of Lead Gen With Personas

By: Matt Beuschlein

Inbound Marketing

You probably have a good idea of who your ideal customer is. But do you know for sure? 

Do you know where they get their information from? What about where they spend their time online or what social platform they frequent? Do you know what they care about? Are you and your team spending your time on the most valuable leads?

Just imagine the impact that information would have on your business if you knew exactly where to find your ideal customers, what they wanted, and how best to talk to them! You can take the guesswork out of lead generation and customer acquisition with personas.

Read Next: Generate The Right Leads. Build Trust. Achieve Breakthrough Growth.

Better Understand Your Ideal Customers

A persona is a fictional representation of your customer base. It’s not one person, but a representation of a target group, or portion of your customers. Think of personas as insight into who your customers are.

Fight the urge to think you can just base them on your assumptions also. Each persona should be created from a minimum of 3-5 interviews with existing customers. Get the information directly from the source—what their goals are, what they need, and how best you can help them. Understanding your current clients better will help you find more people like them who need your product or service.

Without these interviews,  you’ll continue to work off of biases and assumptions about your audience that aren’t true.

Not only do they help paint a clear picture of who your prospective clients are, but they also help make everything you do more user-centric, from the products and services you provide, to your marketing content and campaigns. Personas ensure your content is optimized for your customer base.

Personas help you target the right people the right way, in the right places.

Spend More Time On the Leads That Matter Most

Once you have a better understanding of where your customers are and who you want to target, you can spend more time creating the content that will resonate best with them and the problems they are facing.

You want to attract people who you can help and are genuinely in need of what you provide.  By using personas, you can ensure your efforts are spent on the leads that are most likely to become your best customers.

Create Consistency Within Your Organization

Personas also help make sure everyone is on the same page internally. With personas, your entire team will know exactly who your ideal customers are and how they should communicate with them. 

Sales will know how to frame their conversations, marketing will know how to create campaigns to resonate with leads, and content creators should have personas front and center to make sure what they’re creating is dialed in for the desired audience.

The key to any successful campaign starts with understanding your audience. And the best way to understand your audience is through personas!

Stop guessing, quit assuming, and get started on your personas today!

Creating personas doesn’t have to take months of time and a team to execute. You can create simple personas for your top 1-2 audience groups using this simple formula. Remember to always prioritize action over perfection. Getting audience insights your team can meaningfully use tomorrow is better than a 6 month process that results in perfection.

Create meaningful personas for your ideal prospects:

  1. Identify Your Persona Groups: Choose the top 2-3 main categories that most of your customers fall into: this could be by role, by decision-making power, or by industry vertical.
  2. Hold An Internal Working Session: Start with a simple persona worksheet (free download here) and have your internal content creation team come together and fill them out. Break people into groups depending on the persona groups you identified above and fill out individually. Share with each other and then collect to use for the final personas.

    We find this is an effective exercise for two reasons:
    1. It helps content creators step into the shoes of their audience. We always remind people to fill these worksheets out with empathy for their customers.
    2. It’s helpful to look back at this exercise after your audience research and see where you do and don’t effectively understand your audience.
  3. Choose Which Clients To Interview: Create a list of 3-5 current clients for each persona group and ask them to schedule a 45-minute qualitative interview. This can be a great client service opportunity as well - thank them for their business and let them know how much you value their insight!
  4. Develop Your Interview Questions: Create interview questions that explore your customer’s goals, motivations, and needs. Questions should cover topics like how they identified they needed your product or service, what their research process was like, and other solutions they considered. Don’t forget to ask why they chose you! You can gather verbatims here to use in marketing.
  5. Interview, Interview, Interview: Conduct 3-5 interviews minimum per persona - don’t cut corners here. We can’t emphasize enough how much you need to talk to actual customers and not speak for them through your biases and assumptions. 
  6. Record Your Interviews: Capture audio (and video if possible) and send them to a transcription service so you can get all the raw transcripts (we use Zoom and Rev).
  7. Check For Trends: We use a tool called Delve to store and categorize interview transcripts so it's easy to cross reference trends, common topics, etc.
  8. Create Your Personas: You can use that same worksheet again and make it a little more robust. Make sure you compare against your assumptions before you did your research. 
  9. Develop Key Messaging: We recommend building out key messaging for each persona based on the information you’ve gathered. Make sure you use some verbatims from your interviews. Testing shows they always work.
  10. Create A Buyer’s Journey For Each Persona: Take some time to map out the process each persona goes through from the moment they learn about you until they become a customer.
  11. Use The Personas: Implement what you’ve created throughout your organization. Make sure you use them to plan your marketing efforts, to inform your sales collateral, and to write copy. Print them out, refer to them all the time. They should be your best friends.

Bonus Step: If you can’t easily identify 2-3 persona groups, consider putting a survey up on your website that identifies who visits, what they’re looking at, and what they care about. This can help you gather some quantitative data to complement your in-depth interviews. Remember though, don’t skip the interviews!

Download our free persona worksheet to get started on your new customer personas today!

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