Why You Should Be Embedding Buyer Personas In Everything You Do

March 13, 2015 | Dan Trefethen

Developing buyer personas is an important step in a successful inbound marketing program – but it’s not just a step. It’s a long-term process of ongoing review, refinement, and deepening your knowledge of your target audience.

And the best marketers are keeping this in mind – they’re embedding buyer personas in everything they do. From campaign planning to nurture streams to discovery calls, organizations that win are keeping their buyer personas front and center at each stage.

What does that mean in practice? You might already create content for your buyer personas, and you might also have different sales emails and scripts based on their unique needs and interests.

But there are three key areas where hooking in your buyer personas will make a big difference. The first is SEO – what keywords are your buyer personas looking for? What kind of information do they hope to find? Next, bring a focus on the customer into every aspect of your organization. Finally, keep a long view. If you’re developing buyer personas around a specific campaign or event, you’re not getting the most out of the time spent researching and writing those personas.

1. Target SEO Around Buyer Personas

What are your buyer personas looking for when they find your content? Inbound marketing is all about pulling the right prospects to your website with exactly the content they’re looking for. If they can’t find it because they’re searching for something other than what you’ve chosen to optimize around, they’ll never know it exists.

Writing for Search Engine Land, Derek Edmond recommends incorporating questions about keywords in your buyer persona interviews. “Breakout existing keyword research into the various buyer persona segments. In the interview process, provide an initial set of keywords to interviewees for establishing relevance, that can be, in turn, used for further keyword exploration.”

You’ll also want to think about how search terms will change as prospects move through the buyer’s journey. Jey Pandian, Organic Search Director for search engine marketing firm Catalyst offers a sample buyer’s journey search funnel in a post on CMI. “Search engine users will initially search for the most generic version of their key phrase before drilling down and using specific language to find the object of their search,” says Pandian, so you can start broad and narrow things down as they get closer to purchase.

2. Focus on the Customer Across Your Organization

Buyer personas aren’t just for sales and marketing. Focusing on the customer at every level and in every department will help you not only resonate better with your audience, but can also keep everyone on the same page. Buyer personas expert Tony Zambito suggests, “Buyer personas provide a common language and communications platform about buyers. Helping to overcome silo barriers and create the focus where it should be – on helping buyers and customers fulfill their goals.”

At Amazon, Jeff Bezos is famous for bringing an extra chair into meetings to represent the customer – the customer is ever-present in the minds of Amazon’s leadership team and weighs heavily in every decision that’s made.

Think about how you can encourage adoption of buyer personas across your organization. Whether you hold a training session, post photos of the personas around the office (like AirBNB), or print out collectible buyer persona trading cards, the important thing is to get the message out there.

3. Keep A Long-Term Focus

Developing buyer personas shouldn’t be a one-time thing. Seeing returns on the time, thought, and effort required to prepare in-depth personas requires committing to using those personas for the long term.

As Zambito says, “When pressure builds, it is natural for organizations and people to make attempts for initiatives to fit the situation. Tying buyer persona development too closely to a short-term objective, such as launching a campaign in one month, will result in little value.”

In practice, this has a few implications. Don’t develop personas based on attendance at a specific industry event, for example. Instead, think about why that person attended – what were they looking to gain? What question, interest, or goal led them to find that event worthwhile? It also means you shouldn’t rush your buyer persona development. Yes, developing personas is important, but it won’t be worthwhile if the personas you end up with are inaccurate or incomplete.

With these three tactics, you’re armed to spread the buyer persona stories throughout your organization to get better results. How are you developing your buyer personas and sharing them company-wide? Let us know in the comments!

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