December 10, 2020
The worst marketing is poorly targeted marketing.
Seriously, if you do not know who you are marketing to, then you're going to get a lot of wasted effort. We don't want that for you, and I have a feeling you don't either.
How do we avoid that problem? Creating buyer personas.
How do I know who I am trying to reach? What characteristics does your audience have that your blog answers? Answers to these questions will be explored below so let's get started.
First, what is buyer persona or a target market?
A buyer persona is simply a representation of your ideal customer. Well, customers because these are not one-size-fits-all things. You probably have a few ideal customers, try to limit it to 3-5 if you can.
These customers all have different interests and pain points that make them a good fit for your company. A buyer persona is a mini-biography of this customer-type that maps out their background, interests, goals, concerns, etc.
These are more than just a quick paragraph on who you think your target is. These are deep dives. If you do not know your customers well, you will not be able to market effectively to them and as a result your messaging won't resonate.
Let's use Centori for an example:
Stacy is 29 years old and has founded her first startup. She went to Boston College for school and majored in English, worked for a larger company out of college, and is now starting her own SaaS company. Stacy worked on the newspaper in college and is a decent writer, but is not an expert on industry topics like SEO.
She has a co-founder who handles the tech side of the business, putting her in charge of marketing. Their company is pre-revenue making their budget very tight for marketing as they are completely bootstrapped. Stacy works around 50 hours/week, and spends most of her time trying to create content, prospect, and managing their intern.
Allen is 52 years old and has been running a successful web development agency for the past six years. Allen is married with three children, two of them college aged. He founded his company with two friends: one is a web developer, another a designer, and Allen handles the business and outreach.
Their clients typically come from word of mouth, though Allen creates content when he has time. They focus on web development so the projects tend to come in spurts but it leaves a risk for having irregular business. Allen wants to offer marketing services or SEO but is not sure where to start.
Note: The above personas do not mention our products. They may hint at our product, but really they focus on the problems these people have. The personas are short enough to digest, but packed with information that gives us an idea of a specific type of person we want to target.
Are we being too specific? Ironically, the more specific you are the better your marketing will be. Creating content for everyone is creating content for no one. As comedian Bo Burnham puts it - the average person has one fallopian tube.
Target markets gather your well-crafted buyer personas together. A target market is inherently a niche section of the entire market. Target marketing does not exclude people from your business; rather, establishing a target market is meant to make your time and effort easier.
For example, we aim to help small businesses which is a subset of business and marketing in general. We're not excluding potential buyers, rather we're working for a set of buyers that we're best suited towards.
With a clear buyer persona and target market in mind, let’s look at how to create a buyer persona so that you know your target market.
Well-crafted buyer personas do not entail extensive amounts of work, but they do require some research.
First, look through who currently views your blog to uncover trends among the different demographics. Google analytics is an excellent tool for this as they provide a pretty in-depth demographic analysis on your site. You can get a gender, age, and even location breakdown to see who you are reaching in real time, as well as over a custom time period.
Want to get social? All social networks provide similar stats in terms of follower breakdown and demographic analysis. This way you can see who is engaging with your posts on social media to determine who finds your blog most appealing.
After uncovering these trends, interview some of the people in your target audience. Talking to customers who both enjoy or dislike your product can prove helpful in crafting a buyer persona. You can also reach out to people who have only recently found your blog or referrals through your network of contacts. Nothing substitutes or compares to the data you can get from live customer interviews, so get comfortable and start making some calls.
Once you find a group of 3 to 5 (or more) interviewees, ask questions geared toward demographics, their educational background, their career path, the job field they work in, their biggest challenges and opportunities and more. Really get to know them and their background as it will help you engage them further through your blog and convert visitors into leads.
Taking steps to both research and interview clients will allow you to discover the niche target market and the problems that your blog solves for customers.
An important note remains to be said and that is gradually your buyer personas could shift as you continue to fine-tune your blog. Buyer personas are not meant to be rigid; they can evolve as you and your brand evolves. I'm sure the first buyers of the model T are very different than the current buyers of a Ford Focus!
Remember to ask whether there are enough people that fit your criteria, whether they will benefit from your services and whether you can reach them with your message. It's a constant process of going back to the drawing board; if you find yourself re-writing a few personas or shifting your target market don't be discouraged, this is part of progress! Ultimately though you want to be refining and moving in a steady direction, rather than rewriting and starting from scratch.
In the end, crafting your buyer personas and discovering your niche target market can be difficult, but it is well worth the effort. With a strong set of buyer personas you will be able to fully leverage your branding strategy. Marketing doesn't have to be blind, you can make smart, educated guesses and have a plan in place as to where to go next. You just need to know what your core message is, and how to frame it.