The Unseen Lessons Our Teachers Taught Us

When first exploring the power of buyer personas, it’s natural to worry about the extra work and effort needed to complete the process. Fortunately, these fears are not unjustified. While it’s true you’ll need to have an intimate understanding of potential customers and what they seek from brands like yours, the investment is completely worth it and can lead to tremendous growth for your company. Here’s why…

Consider for a moment your high school history teacher. In schools across the country, history teachers teach multiple classes with students at all different levels. One class might be filled with students who are ready to break down the information at a very high level. These students are capable of exploring difficult themes. Learning about the American Revolutionary War requires covering more than dates and names, and they will dive into motivations and outside influences.

Another class might be at a more introductory level of history. Rather than covering motivations, they might need to learn more about the major people who influenced the events of the day and focus on learning the timeline.

Both classes are covering the same topic, but if the teacher is going to effectively teach both groups, he or she will have to develop separate lesson plans for each class. If the teacher tried to create a common lesson plan for each group of students, neither group would receive the instruction they needed to succeed. It does require more work for the teacher to create separate lesson plans, but the teacher knows it’s worth the effort. A teacher who keeps their eyes on the end goal — to ensure that both classes walk away feeling challenged and with new knowledge about the founding of the United States — will know their extra work helped them reach their students effectively.

The Takeaway for Marketers

The same concept applies to marketers. It does take a little more work to create separate content for each of your buyer personas, but if you want to effectively reach your potential customers, you have to be willing to go that extra mile.

Each of your customers comes to your site looking for different information. One customer might be concerned about finding an affordable solution to their problem. They feel as though they’ve spent too much money in the past, and their primary concern is budget. Another customer might focus primarily on utility. They trust that when they find a well-created solution to their problem, their return on investment will justify their cost. Each of these customers will respond better to different types of content and offers. Creating just one type of content will make it harder for you to reach all of your intended target audiences. It may have been less work upfront, but it will end up costing you more when you fail to bring in the profits and returns you had desired.

In a world where time is money, it makes sense to avoid spending unnecessary time and money whenever possible. What you need to remember, though, is that while efficiency is important, it cannot replace doing something correctly. Sit down with your team, outline your buyer personas, and draft a plan for reaching each one. You’ll be amazed at what these additional steps can do to help you close more business.

If you’re ready to start building a new marketing strategy, reach out and speak with us today. We’d be happy to help you get started.

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Lessons from Vacation Planning

It was almost the end of senior year at the university. Four close friends — Sarah, Maria, Andrea, and Kaitlin — were preparing to celebrate the momentous achievement of earning a degree. To make their upcoming graduation even sweeter, each had found employment that would begin a few weeks after they received their diploma. These girls had plenty to celebrate.

To make some final memories before they headed off into the work world, they decided to take a trip together. They quickly realized, however, that each one of them had a different idea of what constitutes the perfect vacation.

Sarah dreamed of spending days relaxing by the ocean, doing little besides napping by the water, swimming, and enjoying fantastic food by night.

Maria desperately wanted to explore some fantastic cities. She had never been to New York City and thought the excitement of the Big Apple would be perfect.

Andrea agreed that cities sounded perfect, but she thought one of the historic cities of Europe sounded more appealing — a dose of culture along with the excitement of a city.

Kaitlin was interested in an active vacation, and exploring the Grand Canyon sounded like the perfect adventure to her.

As the girls worked to reconcile their different ideas of vacations, Sarah started laughing. The girls turned to her with confusion and asked what could possibly be so funny. Sarah sighed and said, “I’m going to work for a marketing firm in two months, and I know part of my job is going to be developing buyer personas for a startup. I learned in class how important it is to really understand your buyers, but we’ve all demonstrated this lesson far more clearly than any textbook.”

Here’s what Sarah meant.

Marketing one-on-one

Customers expect personalized marketing. General information that leaves questions about the value of products and services won’t engage them. Thanks to the Internet, customers are now in control of the beginning of the buying process. They can read online reviews and research companies long before they make a purchase.

To answer this consumer need, companies must learn how to market to their customers on a one-to-one basis. This requires knowing customers on a personal level and knowing what they seek. In-depth buyer personas are essential for this task.

Using buyer personas for personalized marketing

A well-developed buyer persona will mean understanding details far beyond gender and level of education or job. For example, all of the girls in the opening story were college-educated women in their early 20s, but they also had vastly different interests. A quality buyer persona will include information about budgets, pain points, goals, and roles within a company.

Using this information can help you determine the questions buyers are likely to have. This can guide the creation of content and marketing materials that speak directly to potential customers.

The more precise you can make your marketing materials, the more effective they’ll be. Identifying buyer personas is an excellent way to refine marketing efforts and better understand exactly who will be responding to campaigns. If you’re interested in improving your marketing efforts, speak to us today at 847.768.2679. We’d be happy to help you learn more about how to market to your intended audience.

What Children’s Dolls Can Teach Us About Marketing

Imagine overhearing a conversation between a little girl named Sarah and someone else you cannot quite identify. Sarah is addressing this other person, telling them to get dressed for the day and eat their breakfast quickly — they don’t want to be late for school.

It sounds as though this other person doesn’t really want to get out of bed. Sarah turns to a more coaxing tone of voice, and you hear her tell this other person that she understands not wanting to confront a mean classmate, but that going and doing it anyway will make her feel better and put an end to the bad treatment.

Finally, you catch a name. Sarah is speaking with someone named Samantha. Wait a minute. Isn’t Samantha Sarah’s doll?

Children and dolls

Have you ever met a little girl who loved her dolls? Most of us have. These small children can come up with elaborate stories about these inanimate figurines. They’ll tell you the doll’s name, her background, what she likes to do, and who her friends are. Most importantly, they’ll tell you how the doll is likely to react in different situations, and they know how to ‘motivate’ their make-believe friend.

As adults, many of us watch children playing with their dolls with a detached amusement, occasionally jumping into the game. The next time you watch a child with their dolls, however, you should stop to think about how much this active imagination is actually teaching you. If you listen closely, you can learn a bit about how to use buyer personas to grow your business.

The common persona mistake

Buyer personas are frequently cited by companies as the best way to market. It makes sense. You need to understand your customers if you want to successfully encourage them to buy. Countless companies will comb through their customer data and develop categories of buyers. They note the approximate age ranges, the budgets, the company size, and what they bought. Then, they distribute folders describing each ‘persona’ to others in the company, expecting to see an enormous jump in sales.

Unfortunately, they’re missing one key detail — bringing their personas to life.

Buyer personas vs. dolls

To maximize the potential for buyer personas, you need to treat them like small children treat their dolls. They have to completely come to life. Start by giving your personas a name and a photo. Understand their back story as though they were a close friend. Most importantly, figure out their motivations and how to encourage them to buy. It’s only when you understand these key points that you can direct your marketing efforts to better address these ideal customers.

How to understand the motivations of customers

To understand why your customers behave the way they do, you need to step back from gathering data and start asking ‘why’ and ‘what.’

  • Why did you pick our company over another?
  • What drove you to buy today?
  • What was your most pressing concern when you were debating between different companies?

Ask your customers about their back stories, so you can understand the stories of future customers.

We’ve all met, or even been, little children who loved their dolls so much they brought them to life. Rather than dismissing the phenomenon as child’s play, think about what these games can teach us about marketing. These children are showing us the path to successfully using buyer personas. We just need to recognize it. If you’re looking to improve your marketing campaigns, speak with us today. We’d be happy to help you get started on the path to success.