Why Personas Are More Strategic Than You Think

Buyer personas. They’re at the heart of how you understand and approach your customers. Personas tell a story of the unique behaviors and goals of your ideal customers and how they consume content and messaging. As technology and digital environments continue to multiply and influence the way information and entertainment is consumed, buyers are exposed to and receive ever-growing amounts of content — until their attention is saturated with messaging that’s rarely well-targeted to them. Persona-driven messaging allows you to quickly break through the content noise. Personas lay the foundation for everything you do, including messaging across your entire organization — creating the framework for aligning the right messaging to the right audience.

What makes personas so important to your business

Despite all the data we have about our customers, they often feel as though we don’t know them at all. In a recent study by Salesforce, buyers voiced frustration about their buying experiences:

Creating buyer personas helps us identify groups with common pain points, providing detailed structure, insight, and direction for key messaging in our product or service offerings and branding. When we understand the needs and desires of our customers, we’re able to speak to them more authentically through more engaging content — showing our customers that we clearly understand how to solve their issues.

According to Cintell, high-performing companies attribute their success in achieving revenue and lead goals by applying deep insights of personas to content marketing and sales strategies: “90% or more of the customer database is mapped by persona and 50% of the prospect database has an identified persona associated with each record.”

The more detailed the data and insight you have on buyer personas, the better. Knowing customer demographics, motivations, goals, and buying and behavior patterns help inform and align successful strategies across your whole organization — especially your content, sales, and marketing.

What gets in the way of having effective personas

Once you’ve committed to creating personas — or if you already have them — here are some issues that can hold you back from developing and applying them effectively:

1. Relying on outdated personas

Customer demands change quickly as buyers’ work environments keep evolving. Oftentimes, personas are not being built, and if they are, there’s a chance they’re outdated or created improperly. B2B agency GETLIFT found that 60–70% of B2B content goes unused because topics are irrelevant to their audience. Keeping up with the evolving needs of your buyers means staying flexible in the pursuit of current and relevant data and insight for your existing personas.

2. Assuming a set of job titles equals a persona

All too often, marketers are building personas with incomplete facts and data that produce generic demographic and firmographic information, without delving into what you really need to know. (More on this later.) GETLIFT uncovered that 70% of companies that missed revenue and lead goals did not conduct qualitative persona interviews. It’s important to go beyond titles and demographics to uncover what matters to your buyers, how they think, and what they truly need from you.

3. Concerns about time and resources needed to create or update personas

We get it. It seems difficult if you don’t have resources to dedicate to creating and documenting accurate personas. But you can get started on them quickly, and they don’t have to be complicated. In fact, one of the biggest hurdles is that companies are making their personas too complex. In those cases, sales and marketing teams will likely struggle to use them properly, or use them at all: GETLIFT research found that a majority of B2B marketers are struggling to align content with personas, with 60–70% of B2B marketers admitting to having difficulty understanding their buyers.

If your personas are left unused, or dare we say, are non-existent, there’s no better time than now to whip them into marketing-strategy-ready shape. And you don’t have to rely on big budgets and teams. In our next blog post, find out which of the two persona types — research-based personas or persona-lites — is best for your company, and the seven steps to building accurate, effective personas.

Contact us if you have any questions or would like to learn more about how to prime your content to address the needs and wants of your buyer personas. And, be sure to follow us on TwitterLinkedIn, and Facebook so you don’t miss out on strategies and insights.