Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Creating Awesome Buyer Personas

It may be hard to find the time to create and maintain buyer personas, but some powerful new research from Cintell suggests it’s more than worth your while. If you’re one the marketers who’s set their personas on the back burner, here’s the only reason you should need to turn up the heat:

Marketers with documented personas are more than twice as likely to exceed their goals:

Creating Buyer Personas = SuccessBottom line, good personas make it easier to understand the needs and buying habits of real customers, they focus your entire team on meeting common objectives, and they make it easier to identify content marketing opportunities. 

Based on survey responses from business and marketing executives in North America, Cintell’s survey also found that companies using up-to-date personas crush the competition when it comes to exceeding revenue and demand-gen goals:

Frequency of persona updates:


Now that we’re all agree that personas are awesome, here are some keys steps Cintell identified for creating personas that are insightful and actionable.

1. Articulate the value of personas to all team members.

You can do your research, develop insights, and even pen the perfect name for your personas, but won’t matter if your team or your cross-functional partners don’t buy in. Selling the value of personas is something you should be doing from the outset. Some of the other biggest issues around developing buyer personas are things like validating the insights you’ve uncovered and training teams to use personas — both of which also relate directly to making sure your teams know what they’ve got on their hands.

Top challenges for building and using personas:

What’s another way to make sure personas get used? Stop relegating them to PDF purgatory, Cintell advises. Only 21 percent of companies do anything with personas besides putting them in a pdf or printing them out. Put information in a usable format that your team will actually dive into time and again, and Dante will breathe a sigh of relief.

Our recommendation? Go big:


2. Use many data points develop accurate personas and validate them.

Once your team is onboard, the next step should be to go crazy with data collection. You’ll have to put some elbow grease into it, but understanding your customers beyond simple demographics will reap serious dividends, Cintell finds.

Companies that exceed their marketing goals are more likely to:

  • Conduct customer and non-customer qualitative interviews (82%)
  • Review CRM data (53%)
  • Interview the executive team (71%)
  • Interview salespeople (59%)

3. Go beyond demographics to understand the buyer experience.

When you interview customers and potential customers, be sure to ask the right questions. Again, demographic information is valuable, but only as the starting point in a comprehensive conversation.

The most effective persona-builders develop profiles that get inside customers’ heads by looking at things like their motivations, challenges, role in the buying process and more.


4. Look at how purchase decisions are made.

For B2B marketers — especially at the enterprise level — the sale is often made to a team, not just one person. Your research needs to account for the whole committee of folks who impact the process.


When you make a sale, does it involve the CEO, the head of IT, someone on the procurement team, and a team lead? The exact committee is a little different for every product, but if you can’t account for all these people with your personas, you’re not in very good company. 70% of companies who can’t identify their buying committee miss their revenue goals.

5. Make a few key people accountable for personas.

Bottom line, personas simply won’t get done unless someone makes them a priority. You need a point person on your team who is responsible for developing personas and keeping them up to date. If accountability is spread around personas are likely to fall through the cracks, which means unmet goals can’t be far behind:AccountableResourceDedicatedToPersonas_Cintell

If you’re ready to take your personas to the next level, be sure to check out the complete benchmark study from Cintell. Those guys are smart.

Make your marketing matter (how’s that for alliteration?) in the new year. Put everything you’ve got behind personas and the results will follow.

Nate Birt is a multimedia journalist, social media enthusiast and copy editor with experience at a variety of print and digital publications, and a Contributing Editor to the Visually Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @natebirt.



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