If you have done any research lately about using the internet to develop leads for your business, you may have heard about inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is a proven marketing methodology for the digital age. Since its inception in 2006, inbound marketing has become one of the most effective marketing strategies for doing business online. Inbound marketing focuses on the development of quality content that pulls targeted people toward your product or service.
To effectively employ an inbound marketing strategy, the process begins with a deep dive into who your ideal clients are with the development of buyer personas.
The internet is a crowded place with lots of white noise. In order to reach your ideal customers with content that resonates, it is important to understand them in greater detail than ever before.
Get your messaging right and you will have potential customers flocking to your site, get it wrong, and it will be a gigantic waste of time and money.
For this reason, the creation of buyer personas is a crucial first step for any company that is serious about marketing their business online.
So, just what are buyer personas……..and why are they important?
Here is a quick and useful tutorial on what they are and why they are important to your future marketing endeavors.
What Is A Buyer Persona?
Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers, based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.
Simply stated, your buyer personas are your target audience. But, rather than just a vague group of ideas and demographics - that KIND of describe - the type of person you’re trying to market to, your buyer persona defines that person according to well-researched demographic information.
More importantly developing your buyer personas should reveal the type of information THEY are searching for online.
Understanding your target audience in great detail helps your marketing and sales teams create USEFUL and RELEVANT content that is valuable to your ideal customer.
A traditional marketing approach might lead you to create a brochure to explain how awesome your products are because they’re custom manufactured with quick lead times or that your customer service is the best in the industry.
This is all important information at some point in the sales process. But it’s the wrong strategy today.
Because early in the sales process, your potential customers don’t care about how great you are, they’re more concerned about whether you can solve their problem..
This is where inbound shines. By creating relevant content (blog posts, white papers, information about materials, design guides, infographics, and more) that answers the questions and challenges that your buyer personas have, you can make a connection and build trust.
The way to create this content is to understand the details about the people who are your buyer personas.
A Real World Example
Let’s say your company manufactures industrial equipment, one of your target buyers is a corporate buyer, and you want to create content to help your sales team sell more of your product.
To do this, you might create a buyer persona of “Buyer Barb.” to help you give Barb content she finds useful to help her manager her projects, be better at her job, keep up with trends, manage her contracts more efficiently, or do whatever she needs to do as a buyer.
So what do we know about “Buyer Barb” that makes her buyer persona so much more useful when it comes to creating content?
Well, after doing some research and talking to your current customers, you will learn that Barb is not just a corporate buyer. She’s a mother, probably between the ages of 35 and 55, who works full-time and also manages her household. She makes about $65,000 per year and keeps up with trends in her industry by reading industry-focused blogs. She is active in her school P.T.A. and is on the Board of her daughter’s soccer booster club at the high school. She is really active on Facebook and Instagram sharing photos of her family’s exploits, and because of the time she spends on the social network, she watches a lot of video.
These details help you understand Barb’s mindset and will help you develop a plan to reach her. Her demographic information, for example, may indicate that a Facebook post might be the perfect place to reach her with a design video or a guest post in top trade website could help you connect with her. These details also help your sales team understand how to talk to Barb. She might appreciate a familiar tone or a warm up with casual conversation about family.
Buyer personas also help your organization understand that a first step in inbound marketing is providing VALUE to real people who are, at this very moment, Googling real questions to their real challenges.
Challenges to which your product or service is THE ideal solution.
“People don’t care about your business. They care about their problems. Be the solution they are looking for.” - Melonie Dodaro
Why Are They Important?
It’s simple really……..times have changed!
In the old days, a sales team armed with a well-rehearsed pitch and some strong arm sales tactics, led their prospects to a buying decision.
Not anymore! The internet has become the great equalizer, which has made these old and stale tactics obsolete.
Now, according to Hubspot, 71% of B2B researchers start their research with a generic search and perform the bulk of their research before ever talking to a salesperson.
New technology and devices, such as DVR Recorders and subscription music services, have limited the effectiveness of disruptive marketing tactics such as radio and television advertisement.
“...... consumers are in complete control of what they want to engage in. Twenty-five years ago big brands controlled the message through advertising and big media companies controlled the airwaves and printing factories.
Technology has changed the game. Consumers can ignore advertising and irrelevant content at will.” (Source: Content Marketing Institute)
Because of this access to information, buyers now control the process which makes an online presence crucial to reach your ideal customers, BEFORE they do business with a competitor.
This is a radical power shift in the buying paradigm, putting great pressure on companies to adapt their marketing and sales strategies.
Taking the time to research your ideal customers and their pain points through persona development allows you to understand their needs, create content that addresses those needs and begins the process of establishing trust.
And, finally the good news for smaller companies is that an effective inbound marketing strategy complete with well-thought out buyer personas can level the playing field between you and your larger competitors.
Bill is the CEO and Founder of InTouch Marketing. Bill drives the vision and direction of InTouch except when England's playing in a soccer tournament, because everything stops!