Inbound Marketing, which is sometimes synonymous with the term Permission Marketing (although the term ‘Inbound marketing’ is the more widely used and categorically encompasses a wider scope than the latter), is arguably the most attractive and demonstrably effective form of marketing strategy in the modern arena of online business promotion and sales conversion since it gained popularity in 2006. It’s non-intrusive and respectful approach to its target audience makes it highly preferable over its notorious older brother, Outbound Marketing.
In a nutshell, Inbound Marketing focuses on creating meaningful and attractive content so that prospective customers will come to you instead of you pushing your product or service to them through aggressive advertising campaigns like banner ads, email blasts, and SPAM—which is what outbound marketing does. Once you’ve got your target audience’s attention, you can organically introduce offers or promotions that are intended to convert and close leads, and possibly even promote retention.
But before choosing to implement any type of marketing strategy, there is the other side of the coin to think about. The targeted audiences and prospective customers for any company and their chosen strategies are hardly homogenous, and it’s up to the company to come up with a detailed archetype for them—their personalities, their common concerns and problems, how they weigh their options when buying—even the fundamental statistical numbers like age demographic and cultural diversity have to be taken into account. The outcome of this process of archetypal modeling is what is called a Buyer Persona.
A Buyer Persona is an archetypal representation of your ideal customer constructed from real data and overall market research about your existing customers. Because the general rule is: “the more detailed, the better”, it’s not uncommon for a particular persona to be composed of a multitude of factors including behavior patterns, goals, motivations, and customer demographics. These personas provide valuable insight in terms of where to direct your inbound marketing strategy. Instead of casting a wide net, you will be able to fine-tune your strategy significantly, thereby saving on the marketing costs and maximizing your appeal to the most significant customers.
ADVANTAGES OF HAVING BUYER PERSONAS
- Generated leads tend to be of higher quality. Because creating personas means having a clear and actionable lead profile, the efficiency and quality of your lead generation will increase. It’s much better to target well-defined, high-quality leads than to go with a ‘buck shot’ approach. Focusing on these ‘sure’ clients will give you and your people more time to foster stronger business relationships with them instead of constantly hunting for more.
- Customers will love you. By knowing your customers in and out—understanding their motivations, addressing their concerns, piquing their interests, talking their language, and talking up your selling points in the most organic, un-invasive way possible, you will put their minds at rest and possibly even earn their loyalty. Your company has just put on its best face for its most valued clients.
- Company reputation will soar. Giving customers top notch content, and high-quality, targeted interpersonal communications will elevate your company into a much more legitimate entity. This goes a long way when the ultimate goal is to become the leading authority in the industry.
- All Micro-Segments will be satisfied. Your company will be able to satisfy the needs of the variety of customers you cater to by doing away with a ‘single-mold’ approach and transitioning into a system of specialized needs and interests.
- Your Inbound Marketing Strategy will be stable and consistent. Because the buyer personas have already given your company a clear picture of your consumer base spectrum, you will be able to give your inbound marketing strategy such a high efficiency, turnover, and accuracy rating, as most traditional marketers only dreamed of a decade ago—and as some are dreaming of even now. A consistent strategy will guarantee consistent results that are immediately observable in the statistical data, and more importantly, in the financial figures.
Now that there is clear evidence that buyer personas contribute greatly to inbound marketing strategy, all you need to do is to create one—or several, depending on your customers. An all-important step that comes before anything else is identifying the specific buyer personas of your customers.
IDENTIFYING A SPECIFIC BUYER PERSONA
It’s virtually a given that you will have to come up with a buyer persona for every solution or commodity that your company provides; it’s not even unheard of to formulate several personas for one product or service, especially if what you offer has a wide consumer base or if your users demographically overlap. A good rule of thumb to uncovering specific buyer personas is to not only look at the types of people who buy your product or solution, but to consider the people behind them who may be involved in the decision to purchase. In scenarios like these, a good place to start would be with the most senior decision maker.
Consider the example where your job is to offer B2B inbound marketing solutions. Two probable clients would likely be the humble small business owner and the much more classically experienced marketing manager. Both of these customers translate into their own buyer personas, and needless to say, both are fundamentally different from each other. While the small business owner might only want to get more leads and earn more money, the marketing manager might have other mitigating factors that affect their purchase decisions—like reporting to a CEO, or being concerned about brand presence.
These little differences make buyer personas more specific—and that’s a good thing. As a parting gift, here are some helpful tidbits to develop the perfect buyer persona for your inbound marketing strategy:
- Start with what you know about your customers and build from there. Make use of all the accumulated data and translate it into an accurate buyer persona.
- Walk a mile in your newly created persona’s shoes. Get into the head of your archetype and focus on the problems that they specifically get hung up on. Try to get meaningful questions about their dilemmas—these will lead you in the right direction to solving their problems.
- Focus on the ‘Pain Points’. Think about why your customers come to you—the pressures or the different incentives they may be under that influenced their decision to come to you. They may answer to higher bosses and have to meet deadlines, or lower costs might be their primary motivation. Once you understand your customer’s pains, you will understand how to address them.
Given the facts, it’s obvious that the buyer personas you create to model your customers defines the type, direction, and focus of your inbound marketing strategy. Without a detailed and accurate buyer persona, you won’t ever get a handle on who you’re marketing to or who your customer base is. This lack of information translates to a lack of direction once your inbound marketing strategy comes into full swing. If you can’t target your customer base accurately, chances are you won’t be able to convert and close either.