The importance of creating personas
Defining your company’s personas is one of the most important steps in running an inbound marketing campaign. It helps you get in the heads of your ideal clients and write content that will be valuable to them, create offers that answer some of their most painful questions, and architect a conversion path that keeps them engaged and excited about your company and the value that you bring to them.
Start with Your Client and Prospect Lists
The first thing that you’ll want to do when creating your personas is take a good look at your current client list. Divide them up between dream clients, average clients, and nightmare clients. See if there are any similarities in industry vertical, in geography, or in demographic characteristics.
If you’re having trouble sorting and organizing your clients, use a tool like Airtable (one of my favorite organization and productivity tools), and sort your data kind of like this.
After you’ve organized your existing clients, take a similar look at your leads list and see if you can learn anything about the people who are currently on your sales pipeline. Are there any noticeable differences between your existing client list and your prospect list?
Do a SWOT Analysis for your company
If you haven’t recently (or ever) performed a SWOT Analysis, this is a great time to do one. This will help you understand and articulate your company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT, get it?). This information can help you identify new personas and verticals that you should be focusing on. You should also use this information to determine if your marketing goals and messaging supports your core business objectives.
This is something that is really good to revisit every couple of years, especially if you're in a fast-changing industry.
So far, we've been looking at existing clients, prospects, and the clients that you need to be targeting based on your business SWOT analysis. Now it's time to call up some clients and prospects to get the full scoop.
Because the point of these meetings is to fully understand the problem (not pitch the solution!), I've found that it can sometimes be more useful to hire a third-party to conduct these interviews on your behalf. They will be less likely to launch into a sales pitch and more likely to ask a bunch of questions to draw out all of the pain points, challenges, and opportunities from the interviewee.
Here are some pointers for conducting these interviews:
- Ask about demographic data. Find out about their education, career path, and where they live. Ask for their story and then listen and take notes. Ask if they think this is typical of others in their job role.
- Ask about the industries that they serve. How do they deliver services to their clients, and what unique challenges do they face?
- What size is their company, both in terms of employees and revenue?
- What's their department structure look like? Does your interviewee have employees? Who does your interviewee report to? Is this structure typical for other companies in their industry?
- What does success look like to them? What skills are required to be successful? What tools and knowledge do you need to be successful?
- What are their biggest challenges?
- Where do you turn to stay up-to-date on industry news? What publications do you read? What about blogs? What groups or associations are you part of?
- How do you work with vendors? Do you use the internet to research vendors? Describe how you typically buy new tools or services.
Create Your Negative Personas
As you wrap up your interviews, you'll start to see trends in your ideal customers. Almost as important are the trends in your nightmare customers. It could be that there are personality traits that make them difficult to work with, it could be that if a company is under a certain revenue they are less likely to value your services and will ask for multiple revisions to your work, it could be that certain types of clients have a low lifetime value or a high churn rate. Whatever the reason, these are the characteristics that should throw up red flags that you should be careful with this client as they move through the sales funnel.
Update your forms to capture persona details
Once you have aggregated all of this data, you should have everything that you need to create your personas. The next thing that you will need to do is make sure that you are capturing enough information from your website leads to place each lead into a persona. If you segment your personas based on the size of their business, then consider adding a form field that asks for the number of employees or the annual revenue of the company. Once you have this information, you can send personalized, targeted emails to your leads based on the services that you know will be most appealing to them.
Start with one or two personas and create additional personas as needed. A large company with lots of services may have 10 or 20 personas, but it's not uncommon for most businesses to have less than five. To get started, download our eBook "How to Create Buyer's Personas" below.