Ever finish a good book or walk out of a great movie and think, “Wow, how’d they do that?”. The most widely published authors and screenwriters are those who can make characters come to life effortlessly and create storylines and scenes that flow almost magically. The truth is, it’s not magic at all. It’s craft. In fact a lot of the ideas that go into creating a single character—their likes, their fears, the color of their eyes (all parts of a “character sketch”) —are never part of the story you see at all but are just as important.
Buyer personas are to successful inbound marketing campaigns as character sketches are to great stories. An author creates a character sketch to anticipate a character’s next move. Knowing a character’s flaws, their favorite foods and what keeps them up at night (as an example) help authors ensure their characters react authentically to whatever comes their way.
It’s the groundwork that keeps a story believable and readers/moviegoers engaged.
B2B buyer personas are character sketches inbound marketing agencies create to represent prospective buyers, decision-makers and solution “champions” so they can create content that engages with each of them at a very personal level to win their attention and land their business. Writing to a specific buyer persona is more than writing to a target audience, in the sense that the buyer persona details more than wants, needs and pain points from the perspective of a certain title (CEO vs CTO vs IT Strategist, for example).
Well-written buyer personas go beyond title to describe more personal attributes including how they define success, where they live, if they have children, what they do for fun, what they read and who they look up to (just for starters).
Telling a CFO what makes your service so special can be complicated. First, the very “technical” nature of technology solutions services doesn’t lend itself easily to creative descriptions and flashy advertising (as opposed to retail products with sensory appeal built in).
Creating marketing that reels your buyers and champions in (a blog post, an offer for a free trial of your service, an email) requires writing a story to each that will engage them in ways that seem as if they were written directly to them. And that’s what you want. They are your lead character. The more you know about them, the more you can anticipate (and write to) their next move. The better, more detailed your buyer persona, the more real, authentic and engaging your marketing content will become.
Now that you know you should create buyer personas, how do you do it?
Finding out specific demographic information about your buyers through surveys or interviews will help you create more targeted content and help you visualize who they are. Here is a list of questions to consider asking your current customers. Understanding this factual information will help create a realistic picture about their needs, wants and goals.
Now that you understand the facts, delve a little deeper into their needs, wants and goals. Knowing their pain points and how your technology can help them will help you create a consistent message with content that is truly useful and makes their lives easier.
Detailed information about a person’s job role and function is crucial for SaaS marketers. Understanding your persona’s job level, knowledge, goals, responsibilities and experience is essential for getting to know them and creating content that will address their needs and help them do their jobs better.
The main goal of your business shouldn’t be just selling products or services, but solving a problem or fulfilling a need for someone. How does your technology help solve a problem in your user or buyer’s life or job function? Most SaaS companies will likely have multiple buyer personas, including those who will use your product and those who are involved in the research and purchase decision phases.
Understanding why someone would not include your software in their solution can help you create content to address those objections. Are there mixed reviews on the product? Is price a concern? Knowing these objections helps you overcome them and offer a better software solution.
Buyer personas done right can take time. Companies that are in a rush to get content out or are disheartened by the seeming irrelevance in detailing their buyers lives to this degree may sense an impulse to skip this very important piece of marketing groundwork. If that’s you, the psychology of good storytelling in marketing and its power to engage audiences and turn profits is proven.
So be sure when you are building your inbound marketing campaigns you think like an author and take the valuable time to draft that character sketch turned buyer persona package. Of all that it will do, however, your buyer personal probably won’t win you a Nobel Prize or any Academy Awards as was the case with Ernest Hemingway’s “A Farewell To Arms.” Then again, let’s hope it doesn’t take 39 drafts to get your marketing where you want it to be. None of us these days has that kind of time!