Driving Demand For Your Business: How To Create And Use Buyer Personas

Brian Honigman

One of the biggest problems facing businesses today when they’re trying to drive sales for a new product or service is not having an audience interested in their offerings in the first place.

Most organizations recognize this mistake too late in the process or don’t know where to begin buyer personaswhen it comes to identifying a potential customer base before they launch a product.

Many businesses think they’ve found the solution to a common problem facing many consumers, since they may have experienced the issue themselves, but in actuality there’s often little demand for most products or services that hit the market today.

Listening to consumers is the key to understanding what offerings people are interested in purchasing, regardless if they are aware of their needs or not.

Therefore, it’s important to develop buyer personas that address the various members that make up your customer base.

What is a buyer persona? A buyer persona is an example of a real person who buys, or might buy, products like the ones you market, based on what you’ve learned from gathering insights on consumers. It’s a profile crafted from their demographics, interests and preferences as a consumer.

How to create a buyer persona

The first part of generating a customer base is planning how to reach them appropriately by understanding who they are. A buyer persona will help map out who your potential customer is and what interests them the most, helping to drive them to your business with inbound marketing. This will help focus your products, services and messaging to help market your offerings to meet the right customer’s needs.

A buyer persona is completely informed by consumer insights either generated through surveys, interviews, marketplace monitoring, focus groups and more; to help your organization identify the pulse of a demographic related to what your business is capable of producing.

Ask the individuals surveyed for their feedback on a specific industry concerning the problems they regularly face, products or services they currently use, what they’d like to see from products or services in the industry and more.

Be sure to pull data and insights in regards to an industry your organization is familiar with in order to better understand the type of customers you’re looking to reach and the unique nuances of a particular industry.

Buyer Persona Example

These insights can come in many forms, but primarily consumers can provide your business with what they actually want to see from your type of organization either directly or indirectly.

For example, direct consumer insights might be a majority of customers asking a shoe company to produce more shoes in bigger sizes with a larger variety of colors. This shoe company can take this information received from their customer base directly and apply it to their offerings for the future better catering to their buyer persona.

On the other hand, a famous example of indirect consumer insights is how Steve Jobs of Apple didn’t like to use the feedback from focus groups, but was very aware of common concerns of consumers when it came to how they used computers.

Many people found computers at the time to be confusing and cumbersome, which is one of the reasons Apple created the widely successful iPhone as a simple means of accessing the internet and taking advantage of other features only a computer once offered. Consumers never said they wanted an iPhone, but Jobs and Apple listened to their input about computers often being difficult to use and innovated from there by creating a widely successful product that was in need.

Once you’ve pulled together data on what consumers want either directly or indirectly in regards to a certain area of expertise. Begin pulling together the demographics that make your ideal buyer both from the data you’ve gathered and based on the use of your company’s offerings.

Define the gender, financial situation, education level, profession, age, interests, shopping habits and more for each buyer persona that makes up your particular audience or who your business would like to comprise your audience.

No audience is comprised of one type of buyer persona, which makes it necessary to segment them into different groups to best match your products, services and messaging to each buyer’s needs and interests.

Lay out these buyer personas and begin brainstorming as to the many ways your organization can attract these consumers with your offerings and messaging before developing them.

Ways to use a buyer persona

The best way to use the buyer personas your team has developed is to match each buyer persona’s behaviors to each step of the marketing funnel. By having an accurate profile of your customer base, you’ll be able to make informed decisions as to what interactions a buyer is likely to have with your organization at each step of the funnel as you continue to focus on lead generation.

Sales and Marketing Funnel

For example, your ideal buyer may interact with your content at the awareness stage of the funnel, which is why this content should be crafted to educate a potential customer about a particular topic as it relates to your industry and company’s offerings.

At this stage of the funnel, you’re able to teach the buyer new things and how tosolve problems more effectively through content. It’s all about giving the buyer the information they are looking for at that stage of the funnel. Slowly this content helps build trust with potential customers, helping to move this buyer down the marketing funnel as they consider reviewing what your company is actually selling.

The marketing of your offerings at each stage of the funnel is likely to be more effective since it’s accurately matched with the activities that a buyer is actually having at that part of the process.

Adding value to a buyer’s experience with your organization across the funnel with email marketing, content marketing or other advertising activities is what will help your organization make use of the persona’s you’ve developed to help drive results for your business.

Your organization should also use your established buyer personas to answer questions about future iterations of your products, services and messaging used to promote them. Use your buyer personas as a reference point when deciding whether to make a change one way or another to your offerings.

Any changes to your company’s offerings should reviewed by looking at your personas to understand if these changes best match the interests of one of your buyers. If the changes your organization is looking to make to a product or marketing collateral don’t benefit or match the preferences of one of your buyers, then there must be another highly compelling reason to move forward with such a change.

Think of your buyer personas as a compass to help give your company direction on where you’re heading in the future.

Examples of success

To help give further context as to how to create and use buyer personas for your business, here of some examples of how other organizations are using buyer personas.

Caterpillar

As a manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, Caterpillar was trying to understand how many segments made up their audience in order to properly market their offerings to these potential customers.

According to Buyer Persona Institute, by interviewing current Caterpillar customers, the company was able to develop two distinct buyer personas that they need to target. Since their buyer personas were able to better focus their marketing efforts to meet the needs of these two groups, they understand how many segments make up their current customer base and what messaging will resonate with each persona.

Deloitte

Last year, Deloitte, the well-known consulting firm, began to focus on working with smaller businesses in addition to their existing work with the corporate sector. To properly reach this new market, they began by conducting research on buyer behavior to craft accurate buyer profiles.

From here they began crafting key marketing messaging based around these buyer profiles and then weaved these messages into one concise brand story that would appeal to these various buyers. Follow in their footsteps when it comes to their systematic, step-by-step approach.

Nike

As one of the largest sports lifestyle brands, Nike uses many buyer personas to reach its variety of audience segments across the channels where they are most active. Each buyer persona is based on an interest in a particular sport, geographical location and other shared demographics.

Nike Twitter

For instance, looking at the many Twitter handles Nike has is just one example of how each buyer persona is reached with unique messaging on social media. Consider adopting the same approach by segmenting your audience on social media if each audience is large and active enough. It’s important to not segment to extensively on social media before your business is ready.

How many buyer personas make up your customer base? Has your organization taken the time to build your own buyer personas? If so, how has your marketing team used these buyer personas to drive results for your business? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Images courtesy of Net AtlanticWrittent and Barn Raisers.

This article originally appeared on the Jumplead blog.

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About Brian Honigman

Brian Honigman is a marketing consultant, freelance writer and professional speaker. He works with both startups and brands like Sumall, Dell, Adknowledge and others focused on marketing, business and technology. He’s spoken at NYU, UNICEF, Huffington Post Live, the American Advertising Federation and for other organizations and conferences. He is a contributing writer to the Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine, the Huffington Post, Forbes, the Next Web, Mashable and others. Follow him on Twitter @BrianHonigman.

Amazing Digital Marketing Trends And Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015

Sunny Popali

Amazing Digital Marketing Trends & Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015The fast-paced world of digital marketing is changing too quickly for most companies to adapt. But staying up to date with the latest industry trends is imperative for anyone involved with expanding a business.

Here are five trends that have shaped the industry this year and that will become more important as we move forward:

  1. Email marketing will need to become smarter

Whether you like it or not, email is the most ubiquitous tool online. Everyone has it, and utilizing it properly can push your marketing ahead of your rivals. Because business use of email is still very widespread, you need to get smarter about email marketing in order to fully realize your business’s marketing strategy. Luckily, there are a number of tools that can help you market more effectively, such as Mailchimp.

  1. Content marketing will become integrated and more valuable

Content is king, and it seems to be getting more important every day. Google and other search engines are focusing more on the content you create as the potential of the online world as marketing tool becomes apparent. Now there seems to be a push for current, relevant content that you can use for your services and promote your business.

Staying fresh with the content you provide is almost as important as ensuring high-quality content. Customers will pay more attention if your content is relevant and timely.

  1. Mobile assets and paid social media are more important than ever

It’s no secret that mobile is key to your marketing efforts. More mobile devices are sold and more people are reading content on mobile screens than ever before, so it is crucial to your overall strategy to have mobile marketing expertise on your team. London-based Abacus Marketing agrees that mobile marketing could overtake desktop website marketing in just a few years.

  1. Big Data for personalization plays a key role

Marketers are increasingly using Big Data to get their brand message out to the public in a more personalized format. One obvious example is Google Trend analysis, a highly useful tool that marketing experts use to obtain the latest on what is trending around the world. You can — and should — use it in your business marketing efforts. Big Data will also let you offer specific content to buyers who are more likely to look for certain items, for example, and offer personalized deals to specific groups of within your customer base. Other tools, which until recently were the stuff of science fiction, are also available that let you do things like use predictive analysis to score leads.

  1. Visual media matters

A picture really is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, and nobody can deny the effectiveness of a well-designed infographic. In fact, some studies suggest that Millennials are particularly attracted to content with great visuals. Animated gifs and colorful bar graphs have even found their way into heavy-duty financial reports, so why not give them a try in your business marketing efforts?

A few more tips:

  • Always keep your content relevant and current to attract the attention of your target audience.
  • Always keep all your social media and public accounts fresh. Don’t use old content or outdated pictures in any public forum.
  • Your reviews are a proxy for your online reputation, so pay careful attention to them.
  • Much online content is being consumed on mobile now, so focus specifically on the design and usability of your mobile apps.
  • Online marketing is essentially geared towards getting more traffic onto your site. The more people visit, the better your chances of increasing sales.

Want more insight on how digital marketing is evolving? See Shutterstock Report: The Face Of Marketing Is Changing — And It Doesn’t Include Vince Vaughn.

Learn more about marketing Analytics.

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About Sunny Popali

Sunny Popali is SEO Director at www.tempocreative.com. Tempo Creative is a Phoenix inbound marketing company that has served over 700 clients since 2001. Tempos team specializes in digital and internet marketing services including web design, SEO, social media and strategy.

Social Media Matters: 6 Content And Social Media Trend Predictions For 2016 [INFOGRAPHIC]

Julie Ellis

As 2015 winds down, it’s time to look forward to 2016 and explore the social media and content marketing trends that will impact marketing strategies over the next 15 months or so.

Some of the upcoming trends simply indicate an intensification of current trends, however others indicate that there are new things that will have a big impact in 2016.

Take a look at a few trends that should definitely factor in your planning for 2016.

1. SEO will focus more on social media platforms and less on search engines

Clearly Google is going nowhere. In fact, in 2016 Google’s word will still essentially be law when it comes to search engine optimization.

However, in 2016 there will be some changes in SEO. Many of these changes will be due to the fact that users are increasingly searching for products and services directly from websites such as Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.

There are two reasons for this shift in customer habits:

  • Customers are relying more and more on customer comments, feedback, and reviews before making purchasing decisions. This means that they are most likely to search directly on platforms where they can find that information.
  • Customers who are seeking information about products and services feel that video- and image-based content is more trustworthy.

2. The need to optimize for mobile and touchscreens will intensify

Consumers are using their mobile devices and tablets for the following tasks at a sharply increasing rate:

  • Sending and receiving emails and messages
  • Making purchases
  • Researching products and services
  • Watching videos
  • Reading or writing reviews and comments
  • Obtaining driving directions and using navigation apps
  • Visiting news and entertainment websites
  • Using social media

Most marketers would be hard-pressed to look at this list and see any case for continuing to avoid mobile and touchscreen optimization. Yet, for some reason many companies still see mobile optimization as something that is nice to do, but not urgent.

This lack of a sense of urgency seemingly ignores the fact that more than 80% of the highest growing group of consumers indicate that it is highly important that retailers provide mobile apps that work well. According to the same study, nearly 90% of Millennials believe that there are a large number of websites that have not done a very good job of optimizing for mobile.

3. Content marketing will move to edgier social media platforms

Platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat weren’t considered to be valid targets for mainstream content marketing efforts until now.

This is because they were considered to be too unproven and too “on the fringe” to warrant the time and marketing budget investments, when platforms such as Facebook and YouTube were so popular and had proven track records when it came to content marketing opportunity and success.

However, now that Instagram is enjoying such tremendous growth, and is opening up advertising opportunities to businesses beyond its brand partners, it (along with other platforms) will be seen as more and more viable in 2016.

4. Facebook will remain a strong player, but the demographic of the average user will age

In 2016, Facebook will likely remain the flagship social media website when it comes to sharing and promoting content, engaging with customers, and increasing Internet recognition.

However, it will become less and less possible to ignore the fact that younger consumers are moving away from the platform as their primary source of online social interaction and content consumption. Some companies may be able to maintain status quo for 2016 without feeling any negative impacts.

However, others may need to rethink their content marketing strategies for 2016 to take these shifts into account. Depending on their branding and the products or services that they offer, some companies may be able to profit from these changes by customizing the content that they promote on Facebook for an older demographic.

5. Content production must reflect quality and variety

  • Both B2B and B2C buyers value video based content over text based content.
  • While some curated content is a good thing, consumers believe that custom content is an indication that a company wishes to create a relationship with them.
  • The great majority of these same consumers report that customized content is useful for them.
  • B2B customers prefer learning about products and services through content as opposed to paid advertising.
  • Consumers believe that videos are more trustworthy forms of content than text.

Here is a great infographic depicting the importance of video in content marketing efforts:
Small Business Video infographic

A final, very important thing to note when considering content trends for 2016 is the decreasing value of the keyword as a way of optimizing content. In fact, in an effort to crack down on keyword stuffing, Google’s optimization rules have been updated to to kick offending sites out of prime SERP positions.

6. Oculus Rift will create significant changes in customer engagement

Oculus Rift is not likely to offer much to marketers in 2016. After all, it isn’t expected to ship to consumers until the first quarter. However, what Oculus Rift will do is influence the decisions that marketers make when it comes to creating customer interaction.

For example, companies that have not yet embraced storytelling may want to make 2016 the year that they do just that, because later in 2016 Oculus Rift may be the platform that their competitors will be using to tell stories while giving consumers a 360-degree vantage point.

For a deeper dive on engaging with customers through storytelling, see Brand Storytelling: Where Humanity Takes Center Stage.

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About Julie Ellis

Julie Ellis – marketer and professional blogger, writes about social media, education, self-improvement, marketing and psychology. To contact Julie follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Human Skills for the Digital Future

Dan Wellers and Kai Goerlich

Technology Evolves.
So Must We.


Technology replacing human effort is as old as the first stone axe, and so is the disruption it creates.
Thanks to deep learning and other advances in AI, machine learning is catching up to the human mind faster than expected.
How do we maintain our value in a world in which AI can perform many high-value tasks?


Uniquely Human Abilities

AI is excellent at automating routine knowledge work and generating new insights from existing data — but humans know what they don’t know.

We’re driven to explore, try new and risky things, and make a difference.
 
 
 
We deduce the existence of information we don’t yet know about.
 
 
 
We imagine radical new business models, products, and opportunities.
 
 
 
We have creativity, imagination, humor, ethics, persistence, and critical thinking.


There’s Nothing Soft About “Soft Skills”

To stay ahead of AI in an increasingly automated world, we need to start cultivating our most human abilities on a societal level. There’s nothing soft about these skills, and we can’t afford to leave them to chance.

We must revamp how and what we teach to nurture the critical skills of passion, curiosity, imagination, creativity, critical thinking, and persistence. In the era of AI, no one will be able to thrive without these abilities, and most people will need help acquiring and improving them.

Anything artificial intelligence does has to fit into a human-centered value system that takes our unique abilities into account. While we help AI get more powerful, we need to get better at being human.


Download the executive brief Human Skills for the Digital Future.


Read the full article The Human Factor in an AI Future.


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About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is founder and leader of Digital Futures at SAP, a strategic insights and thought leadership discipline that explores how digital technologies drive exponential change in business and society.

Kai Goerlich

About Kai Goerlich

Kai Goerlich is the Chief Futurist at SAP Innovation Center network His specialties include Competitive Intelligence, Market Intelligence, Corporate Foresight, Trends, Futuring and ideation.

Share your thoughts with Kai on Twitter @KaiGoe.heif Futu

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How Manufacturers Can Kick-Start The Internet Of Things In 2018

Tanja Rueckert

Part 1 of the “Manufacturing Value from IoT” series

IoT is one of the most dynamic and exciting markets I am involved with at SAP. The possibilities are endless, and that is perhaps where the challenges start. I’ll be sharing a series of blogs based on research into knowledge and use of IoT in manufacturing.

Most manufacturing leaders think that the IoT is the next big thing, alongside analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. They see these technologies dramatically impacting their businesses and business in general over the next five years. Researchers see big things ahead as well; they forecast that IoT products and investments will total hundreds of billions – or even trillions – of dollars in coming decades.

They’re all wrong.

The IoT is THE Big Thing right now – if you know where to look.

Nearly a third (31%) of production processes and equipment and non-production processes and equipment (30%) already incorporate smart device/embedded intelligence. Similar percentages of manufacturers have a company strategy implemented or in place to apply IoT technologies to their processes (34%) or to embed IoT technologies into products (32%).

opportunities to leverage IoTSource:Catch Up with IoT Leaders,” SAP, 2017.

The best process opportunities to leverage the IoT include document management (e.g. real-time updates of process information); shipping and warehousing (e.g. tracking incoming and outgoing goods); and assembly and packaging (e.g. production monitoring). More could be done, but figuring out where and how to implement the IoT is an obstacle for many leaders. Some 44 percent of companies have trouble identifying IoT opportunities and benefits for either internal processes or IoT-enabled products.

Why so much difficulty in figuring out where to use the IoT in processes?

  • No two industries use the IoT in the same way. An energy company might leverage asset-management data to reduce costs; an e-commerce manufacturer might focus on metrics for customer fulfillment; a fabricator’s use of IoT technologies may be driven by a need to meet exacting product variances.
  • Even in the same industry, individual firms will apply and profit from the IoT in unique ways. In some plants and processes, management is intent on getting the most out of fully depreciated equipment. Unfortunately, older equipment usually lacks state-of-the-art controls and sensors. The IoT may be in place somewhere within those facilities, but it’s unlikely to touch legacy processes until new machinery arrive. 

Where could your company leverage the IoT today? Think strategically, operationally, and financially to prioritize opportunities:

  • Can senior leadership and plant management use real-time process data to improve daily decision-making and operations planning? Do they have the skills and tools (e.g., business analytics) to leverage IoT data?
  • Which troublesome processes in the plant or front office erode profits? With real-time data pushed out by the IoT, which could be improved?
  • Of the processes that could be improved, which include equipment that can – in the near-term – accommodate embedded intelligence, and then communicate with plant and enterprise networks?

Answer those questions, and you’ve got an instant list of how and where to profit from the IoT – today.

Stay tuned for more information on how IoT is developing and to learn what it takes to be a manufacturing IoT innovator. In the meantime, download the report “Catch Up with IoT Leaders.”

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Tanja Rueckert

About Tanja Rueckert

Tanja Rueckert is President of the Internet of Things and Digital Supply Chain Business Unit at SAP.