Inbound marketing and the importance of defining personas

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Published May 13, 2013 | Written by Jeremy Knight




(THIS IS THE VIDEO TRANSCRIPT) So what is the most important part of setting up an inbound marketing program? If I told you need to start at the end, you might wonder what in the world I was talking about. But that's what you need to do. You need to start with the customer.

After all, if you don't understand their aspirations, their goals, their fears, and their challenges, how are you going to communicate effectively with them? And that's not all. You need to map content--content that's going to resonate with your persona at different stages of the buying cycle.

So how do you define your key persona?

A good buyer persona is an in-depth representation of your ideal customer. And you achieve that through real data -- things like demographics and online behaviours -- but also through educated speculation.

So drawing on your own experiences in the marketplace and experiences with both previous and current customers, what you end up with is a detailed profile that includes some things you might expect. Things like role, responsibilities, job title, salary, gender, that sort of thing. But also some things you don't expect, perhaps. Things like personal interests, hobbies, and certainly, professional goals and aspirations for both themselves and their company, as well as challenges that they face doing their job.

And once you've gathered all that in the round, you then identify where your company can help them overcome those challenges and achieve those goals.

So you have to dig deep, way beyond the more traditional demographic study. You always have to know your persona. What would they be like on a night out? 

Now you map content to the persona

Now we have a more intimate picture, we can start the process of mapping content. Primarily, these early interactions are going to revolve around educational content, content delivered using the language your persona would use, and content that plays to their needs.

And this really matters when you recall that buyers today get 60% of the way through the buying process before they will even speak with you. But how are you going to map that content and build that content pipeline?

We want to understand what our persona needs to know in various stages of the buying process. What sort of questions, or issues, will she be facing?

Initially, she may be faced with a reason to question the status quo, to look for new opportunities and to address new priorities. And the content that you create for her at this stage is broad, and high level, and informative, educative, helping her understand the bigger issues at play, not talking about your company and your product or service.

After that, your persona will be in a research phase where she's gathering information, trying to understand how she should think about the problem strategically, and how she might find best practices and who might guide her.

personasSo now we move to the middle of the marketing funnel. And here, your persona may start to encounter some internal resistance. Some other departments may start to question the approach she's thinking of taking, and so your content needs to help her address and overcome these challenges.

And you need to start to align your product and service with this help that you're providing. So perhaps now it's more detailed white papers or even a product webinar. Now, once you move to the bottom of the funnel, your persona is starting to ask some very serious questions.

Things like, why should she trust you to help her solve her problem? What's the total cost of taking on a solution like yours? And even, what other companies out there have had some success implementing your solution?

And so your content here are things like case studies, price lists, and even a free trial period or a consultation period.

Hopefully, we demonstrated why it's important to create personas and then map your content onto the requirements of those personas as they move through the buying process.

In our next video, we're going to address the top of the funnel and lead generation techniques that allow you to turn early interest into permission to continue that conversation with potential customers.

Inbound marketing guide


Published by Jeremy Knight May 13, 2013
Jeremy Knight