Content Marketing Spot Check: Do Your Buyer Personas Feel Real? Complex?

A Scripted Freelance Writer Writing Sample

Buyer personas should reflect those they attempt to portray: Living, detailed, emotional and ever-changing. Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your company's most likely customers or clients. Depending on the product or service you sell, you might have one buyer persona or you might have dozens. They help define where to spend marketing dollars, which messages will resonate and when the sales and marketing pipeline will be the most impactful. Buyer personas are essential to the roadmap to developing marketing strategy. Yet, how do you know whether your buyer personas are truly accurate or a somewhat educated guesses? If you're not absolutely confident, you're in need of a buyer persona spot check.

Compare Your Personas to Recent Customers

Hopefully, you have some demographics for your most recent clients and customers. Depending on your product or interaction level, you may need to add an annual customer satisfaction survey to help gather demographic information on your customers. Regardless, you should aim to gather fresh information at least once a year. It's also recommended to interview customers if you've got the access. When conducting these interviews or writing these surveys, get answers to these questions: - Background : Age, gender, job title, income. - Information Sources : Where do they get their content? Which formats do they prefer? - Objections : Where might they object to your product if put through the sales process? - Pain Points: What are the customer's frustrations with products and services in your industries? - Free Time: What are their hobbies, favorite movies and tv shows? - Educational background: What's their highest level of schooling? What did they study? - Purchasing Decision Making : How do they rank their preferences when they're evaluating a potential purchase? Price? Quality? Durability? Also, note that outdated customer demographics won't help you if your customer base is starting to change. Survey enough recent customers to obtain a measurable sample size. Use a sample size calculator to determine what response level you need for your data.

Equalize Your Buyer Personas

Does business-minded electronics-obsessed Charlie have twice the details as CEO Sally? If you are having a hard time defining certain personas but could draft a doctoral thesis on another, you may be trying to include personas that you're either not ready to target - or don't target well - with your product. If you line up all of your buyer personas side-by-side, they should be generally equal in length and specificity. Anything that doesn't match should be reconsidered.

Motivations, Personalities and Influences Are Complex—Are Yours?

Buyer personas serve to humanize otherwise highly quantitative data that doesn't lend insight to the underlying drivers motivating your customers. Do your buyer personas look more like fact sheets than personal stories? Your spot check should reveal whether you can relate to or identify with your buyer persona's motivators. If it doesn't, you need to go back to the drawing board. For a great example of a complex buyer persona, check out Hubspot's sample: [caption id="attachment_10897" align="alignnone" width="1011"] Hubspot buyer persona. Credit: Hubspot.[/caption] Not only does it include demographic characteristics, it includes a highly personal and emotionally awareness of their customer — one that nails their feelings and motivations. Finally, remember that buyer personas — just like your customers — are a living, evolving presence. Your customers are going to be influenced by changing economies, political landscapes or even holidays and seasonal changes. Include a spot check review process at least quarterly to account for any upcoming or anticipated alterations in your buyers' motivations. It will help keep you on track and successful in your marketing strategy.

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