How To Target Your Audience [Buyer Personas, Buyer’s Journey and More...]
Updated: Sep 8, 2019
“Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” -Theodore Roosevelt
People don’t care how much you know or how great your product is until they know how much you care about them. And what better way to care for someone than understanding and empathizing with them?
To understand and empathize with someone you must know with whom you are communicating and what is their context. And if that doesn’t motivate you to improve your targeting and personalize your messaging, here’s an interesting statistic.
“94% of consumers have discontinued communications with a company because of irrelevant promotions or messages. 51% of customers will never do business with that company again after one negative experience.” HubSpot
In this article, you’ll learn how to create buyer personas and map them to their corresponding buyer's journey. That will allow you to target and segment your audience so your content and campaigns are always personalized, relevant and helpful.
The goal of this article is not just to teach you wishy-washy theory but to show you how to use buyer personas and their buyer's journey in practice. That's why concrete implementation steps are included after each part. I'd highly recommend you to schedule tasks and take action on these steps to get the most of this blog.
1. Target Your Audience
Before even starting to brainstorm content or campaign ideas everyone included in the process should know two things - for whom you are writing and what's their context.
1) For whom you are writing
It matters for whom you are writing. Imagine that your product is a car. Does it matter whether you are writing for Pragmatic Peter or Shopping Sally?
Of course, it does! When reading your content Pragmatic Peter wants to find the answers for the questions he has and so is Shopping Sally. And trust me, chances are that most of their questions are different.
"What’s the transmission of the car?"
"What’s the fuel consumption of the car?"
"How much horsepower is the car?"
"Is it a 4-cylinder, V6 or V8?"
"What’s the color of the car?"
"How good does the car look?"
"Is it easy to drive?"
"Is it easy to park?"
People are different and want different information.
You might be thinking what if I answer every question in one big blog article.
That’s a big no, no. Just imagine Shopping Sally reading 5 paragraphs about the transmission of the car and Pragmatic Peter about how good the car looks in Instagram photos. How would they feel?
The Solution - Buyer Personas
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research, real data about your existing customers and some educated guesses.
To create your first buyer persona you’d need to gather your whole customer-facing team to brainstorm. Then use this free tool to build your buyer persona's basics and afterward answer the following additional questions listed by adding new cards in the tool. This will make your buyer persona complete and useful in practice.
Before you begin here are three tips that will keep you on the right track:
Tip 1: Don't try to fit all of your customers in one persona. Instead, you are encouraged to segment, divide and rule some wise said. The more specific your persona is, the better it is. Create a maximum of 3 specific buyer personas with no broad answers.
Tip 2: If you can't fit all of your customers in just 3 personas, focus on the ones who bring the most revenue and drop the others. At the end do you want to attract everyone including clients of hell or just good-fits on a lower marketing cost?
Tip 3: For buyer persona’s name pick something self-explanatory using this naming strategy. Adjective Name where the Adjective describes literally the persona. Both Adjective and Name must start with the same letter.
Examples: Pragmatic Peter, Marketing Marry, Shopping Sally, Outsourcing Olly, etc.
Buyer Persona Questions
1) What’s their personality type?
DISC + 4 Gem Types Personality (Pearl, Sapphire, Emerald, and Ruby). To learn more about the personality types and how to use them read this entertainment article on the topic.
2) What’s their preferred language for reading?
Example: English / Bulgarian / Spanish, etc.
3) What’s their preferred content format?
Example: Blog articles / Video / Infographics / Webinars / Podcasts / Audio Books/ Social Media posts, etc.
4) What do they hate?
Examples: Bullshit, Being sold while consuming content, Complicated words and etc.
5) What do they like?
Example: Honesty, Straightforwardness, Entertainment, Simplicity, Manchester United FC, Mercedes, etc.
6) What makes them feel good? (Feel Good Trigger)
Example: Praising their accomplishments and hard work; making them laugh; making them feel superior and smarter; being honest and transparent
7) What are their beliefs?
Example: Vegan, Feminist, Religious, Atheist, Workaholic, Gambler, etc.
8) How do you relate to them? (Relatability Factor)
Example: Both hard-working entrepreneurs, Both technology geeks, Both want to clean the ocean from plastic.
9) What keywords do they search online?
Example: “Growth Hacking”, “Guerilla Marketing”, “Retention”, “Engagement”, "How to make money"
Don't worry if you haven't answered all of the questions for your buyer persona. That's perfectly normal to happen during the first iteration. Just keep learning more about your buyer persona and update it every time you got new data or good educated guesses.
To see how a complete buyer persona should look like, check my main buyer persona - Product Peter.
2) What's their context and interest?
Now when you know that you are writing for Pragmatic Peter and Shopping Sally let's get back to the car example. It matters if they are looking for a new car now, if they are considering to buy a new car soon or if they are not looking to buy a car at all.
So the question is how do you understand where are they now regarding buying a car and how to produce content that will spark their interest?
The Solution - Buyer's Journey
The buyer's journey is the process buyers go through to become aware of, consider and evaluate, and decide to purchase a new product or service.
This process consists of three stages - Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.
Prospect is experiencing and expressing symptoms of a problem or opportunity.
“My head hurts and I feel pain when drinking cold water. What's wrong with me?”
Prospect has now clearly defined and given a name to their problem or opportunity.
“A-ha! I got a toothache! What are my options for relieving or curing my symptoms?”
Prospect has now decided on their solution strategy, method or approach.
“I can go to the dentist. Which dentist should I choose?”
Once you have your buyer personas ready is time to create their buyer’s journey.
Tip: Usually each buyer persona goes through a unique journey but in some cases, the journeys can overlap or be the same.
To begin open a Google Spreadsheet and create a table with these columns - Their, Awareness, Consideration and Decision.
Then insert the following rows: Definition, Situation, Reading Time, Current Focus, Goal / Target, Problem, Symptom, Pain, False Hopes, Shattering Question and Dream.
After you have created your buyer's journey table and it looks like the table on the image below. It's time to fill the rows you just inserted by answering the Buyer's Journey Questions listed below the table image.
Buyer's Journey Questions
How would you describe your buyer persona at Awareness, Consideration and Decision stage? Do this in once sentence.
What’s the situation of your prospect at each stage? What are they thinking? What are they doing?
3. Reading Time
How much time would your buyer persona devote to consuming content at each stage of their journey?
4. Current Focus
What your persona is thinking and doing at Awareness, Consideration and Decision stage?
5. Goal / Target
What your buyer persona is trying to achieve at each stage of the buyer's journey?
What problem or challenge your buyer persona is having?
Tip: It may be the same for all stages of the buyer’s journey.
What is the #1 symptom of your buyer’s persona problem or challenge?
What are the consequences of your buyer’s persona problem and what’s keeping them awake at night?
9. False Hopes
What your buyer persona is hoping to solve their problems and relieve them from Pain but in reality is like believing in Santa Clause or the Tooth Fairy? In other words, it ain't gonna solve their problem.
10. Shattering question
The question or line that will destroy your buyer persona’s hopes, bring them back to the harsh reality and make them listen to your message.
Where does your buyer persona want to be? What would make them fulfilled and truly happy?
Don’t worry if you couldn’t answer all of the questions or if you got the same answer duplicated for Awareness, Consideration and Decision stages. That's normal and with the time you’ll get more clarity and be able to better get in the shoes of your buyer personas.
The goal of the buyer’s journey is to give your better understanding of your consumers and their journey from stranger to your loyal paying customer.
In the next section, we’ll learn how exactly to use the buyer personas and their buyer’s journey on practice to produce content and make campaigns in the real-world.
To see how a good buyer’s journey should look like, check my Buyer’s Journey for Product Peter.
2. How To Use Buyer Personas & The Buyer’s Journey
Once you have your Buyer Personas and their Buyer’s Journey created using the steps described above, it’s time to practically use them in your marketing and content creation activities.
1) Create Targeted Ad Campaigns
If you have created your buyer personas and their buyer's journey you should know for whom exactly you are writing and where they might be in the buyer’s journey.
For example, if you are targeting audience for the first time chances are that they are in the Awareness stage. If you're-targeting people who have seen your webinar you can safely assume that they might be in the Consideration stage or the Decision Stage.
Preparation: Take a list of paper or something that you can write on.
Step 1. Choose your target buyer persona.
Step 2. Make an assumption in which stage of the buyer’s journey they might be.
Step 3. Open the buyer persona and write down their Hate, Like, Feel Good Trigger, Relatability Factor and Personality Type.
Step 4. Open the buyer’s journey and write down their Situation, Current Focus, Goal / Target, Symptom, Pain, False Hopes, Shattering Question and Dream.
Step 5. Brainstorm ideas with your team looking at what you’ve written down and filter out everything that doesn't fit in it.
2) Generate Content Ideas
To never run out of good content ideas follow this 3-step process.
Step 1. Choose one of your buyer personas.
Step 2. Decide which state of their buyer’s journey you are targeting.
Step 3. Open the buyer’s journey table of your buyer persona:
1. Read the "Definition" row for the stage you've chosen.
2. List down every topic that fits into "Definition" and matches "Current Focus".
3. Approve only the topics that include "Problem" or "Symptom" and fits into "Reading Time".
With this simple 3-step idea generation process the permutations are endless and you’ll never run out of ideas or get stuck again.
Examples: Awareness stage article for my buyer persona Product Peter generated using the steps described above on "Why Your Business Will Die [The Symptom 90% of Startups Have]"; Consideration article on How To Write a Product Blog Post [Content, Structure & Everything You Need To Know]
3) Write & Edit Content
If you have generated a content idea or have something that you want to edit, great! If you don't have, go back to point 2).
To begin writing, load your target buyer persona and its stage of the buyer’s journey in both your mind and your web browser. Then follow this 4-step process.
Step 1. Create a structure of the content that includes as many of the buyer’s journey stage fields: Current Focus, Goal / Target, Problem, Symptom, Pain, False Hopes or Dream.
Step 2. Have in mind your buyer persona's Personality Type, Language Preference, Hate, and Like and start producing content for every point of the structure you created in Step 1.
Tip: When writing blog articles, write the introduction and the conclusion as last so you have all of the content already created. The purpose of the introduction is to set the agenda and the conclusion is for recapping the key points made.
Recommendation: For a complete guide on how to write and structure a blog post check read this article on How To Write a Product Blog Post [Content, Structure & Everything You Need To Know].
Step 3. Choose the right visuals using your persona’s Like, Hate and Feel Good Trigger. Set the right call-to-actions by leveraging the Shattering Question from the Buyer’s Journey.
Step 4. Rest, forget the article for an hour. Then imagine that you are an angry version of your buyer persona in the worst context. Put yourself in their shoes and start cutting BS and editing unbiasedly.
Example: Awareness stage article written for Product Peter using the 4-step process on "3 Marketing Mistakes That Are Eating Your Ad Budget [And How To Fix Them]".
4) Prioritize and improve product features
Some of your users convert, other not. That’s normal and the goal is to maximize your conversion rate. Here’s how your buyer personas and their buyer’s journey would help you.
Step 1. Segment the users in your product and analytics based on buyer personas if technically possible.
Step 2. Select the metric you want to improve and find where your users are failing the most.
Step 3. Find out which buyer persona fail the most there.
Step 4. Make an assumption in which stage of their buyer’s journey your failing persona might be.
Step 5. Resolve using one of the following approaches:
1) What might be missing out for your buyer persona to move to the next stage and convert?
2) Why they are at this stage of their buyer’s journey and is it the right stage they should be in when seeing this action?
3) How can we change the current messaging to fit the buyer persona and its context so they feel confident and informed to take the action?
If nothing of the above works. Ask yourself.
Are we attracting the right buyer persona for this action?
Which buyer persona performs the best on this conversion metric and why?
Why don’t we attract more of the buyer persona which converts the most?
To recap we’ve learned why buyer personas are important, how to create and most importantly use them in practice. We’ve also mapped our buyer personas to their corresponding buyer’s journey consisting of Awareness, Consideration and Decision stage.
"Knowledge is just knowledge but applied knowledge is power." - Iliyan Germanov
Now having this knowledge it's time to implement it or otherwise nothing will change anything and you won't get any results. Here are your 5 weekly assignments to help you get the most of this article and grow your business.
Assignment 1. Create a buyer persona following the process in 1) To whom you are writing section.
Assignment 2. Create a buyer's journey for your buyer persona following the process in 2) What's their context.
Assignment 3. Run a targeted ad campaign using the steps in 1) Create Targeted Ad Campaigns.
Assignment 4. Write a blog article for your buyer persona using the steps 2) Generate content ideas and 3) Write & Edit Content.
Assignment 5. Improve one of your metrics using the steps in 4) Prioritize and improve product features.
If you need any help on creating buyer personas, mapping them to their buyer’s journey or using them in your marketing activities book a free growth hacking consultation or message me in the chat.