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Developing Buyer Personas - The 1st Step of Inbound Marketing Strategy

With economies changing more rapidly than probably any time in the past, more people are opting to go into business themselves. These go-getters need to know how to establish a solid customer base.

Likewise, even established businesses have witnessed the shift in the way potential customers find them. The days of advertising in print media and on billboards may not be over, but no one can say these methods are the best way to reach likely patrons in the 21st century.

It is imperative that anyone involved in business, especially one that plans to acquire new customers through the internet, has a solid inbound marketing strategy. Without a way to get quality, relevant traffic to a website (those genuinely interested or looking for what you offer), no business can survive.

Moreover, even a large number of website visits may not be enough to sustain profits if the traffic isn’t there for the right reasons. The best visitor is one who is most likely to make a purchase. It is the visitor who came to find your website by searching for the services, products, or information you willingly provide.

It is this consumer and this consumer alone, your business must target.

But before you can start selling, developing a buyer persona is first, and a step you should never overlook.

A successful inbound marketing strategy will be two-fold:

1. Identify who is a likely prospect

2. Develop marketing that appeals to this demographic

Identifying your target customer might be easy for some businesses and far more challenging for others. For example, if you run a business which provides services utilized in all corners of industry, it can be challenging to get specific about who your buyer(s) might be. Others, such as a highly specialized manufacturing company will find identifying their target buyer a breeze.

Either way, you must start with the creation of buyer personas. A buyer persona represents a fictitious customer profile which is typical among those most likely to use the product or service being offered. It truly takes time to create an on-target buyer persona.

Marketers who do not take the time to truly assess whom their businesses want as customers may find themselves reaching an audience not ready to buy, less likely to buy, or uninterested in buying altogether. And if that is the case, the people who are most likely to buy are being ignored. Even worse, a competitor with a better inbound marketing campaign or targeting strategy will reach these valued potential customers first. An obscene amount of resources, money, and effort are wasted by companies neglecting to target customers who fit their company best.

Sources to identify likely customer personas

When thinking about how or where to find your typical buyer personas, here are some likely places to to start:

  • Successful campaign results from the past
  • Customer surveys
  • Customer complaints
  • Unsolicited customer feedback
  • Information entered by website visitors
  • Sales team commentary about success of various pitches
  • Interviews of past and current customers

During this process, it is also important that marketers focus on developing negative personas when creating an inbound marketing strategy. This tactic involves trying to locate unlikely candidates with whom to do business. Finding out what things attract this type of consumer can be just as valuable as knowing what preferred customers desire. And sometimes it’s much easier to identify who is not a good fit than those who are. Armed with this information, a business can be sure that it avoids targeting unlikely buyers by mistake.

The ultimate goal here is to save on efforts a business must make to acquire leads that easily convert into paying customers. And the general public will also appreciate this approach since their time is not wasted exploring offers, products, and services that are not a great fit for their needs.

As stated earlier, large volumes of website traffic mean little if it is not possible to convert these leads into customers.

Sample questions to ask people when developing buyer personas

  • What is your occupation?
  • What is your age?
  • What is your income?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • What are your goals?
  • Why did you not choose this product or service?
  • What can we do to better serve you next time?

With this type of information, a business can then go about tailoring a website to attract the right customer base. After developing buyer personas for inbound marketing, it is then possible to start targeted on-going sales campaigns that will be more successful and efficient than those aimed at a whole database of leads.

For example, marketers can limit the direct emails they send to only those people they believe will respond by visiting the website. Of course, the website should be set up in a manner that will further draw in these leads to make a purchase, call a sales representative or pay the establishment a personal visit.

Newer marketing strategies such as inbound marketing encourage a business environment that is more open, yet more challenging, than ever before. Anyone serious about surviving in this competitive world must develop an inbound marketing strategy that focuses resources on those website visitors who have a high potential to become customers. Being visible online is not that challenge today. Instead, the real work involves getting noticed by the right people. Take the time to develop a proper buyer persona or even several and model your businesses marketing approach around these buyers. You will see a massive shift in your conversions of website visitors into leads.

We help many of our customers develop in-depth buyer personas for their marketing efforts. Often, its challenging developing these internally. If you care to learn more about developing personas for inbound marketing we would love to learn more about your business and current marketing challenges.


Gerald D. Vinci

Gerald D. Vinci

Gerald D. Vinci is the CEO of Vinci Digital with over 20 years of experience in marketing and advertising. He partners with mid-size, established businesses as a growth and scalability consultant and strategic branding advisor as well as offering a full-suite of agency services. Gerald calls Carmel, CA home with his wife Safira and two children. He has co-authored two books, and is working on his own upcoming book titled, “Small Business Pricing Mastery – Creating effective pricing and defining value for today’s products and services.”