I got behind on my blogging recently. One reason for that is because I’ve been very involved in our recent move to our awesome new space in East Nashville. Another reason is simply because I have had difficulty nailing down a topic.
I have found that when I have the freedom to write about basically anything I choose, it actually takes me longer to determine what I want to say than if I am writing for a specified purpose or theme.
To quote Jon Stewart from an old NPR interview, “I’m a real believer in that creativity comes from limits, not freedom. Freedom, I think you don’t know what to do with yourself. But when you have a structure, then you can improvise off it.”
That’s true of marketing as well. Sometimes clients feel hesitant to give too many boundaries for a project, like a brochure or website, because they don’t want to stifle creativity. While I appreciate that idea, it doesn’t always help in the way they anticipate.
Hearing that someone wants a design that is “fresh” or that “pops” may allow for a pretty look but it’s not always impactful. Additionally, one person’s idea of “modern” may be completely different from someone else’s, yielding undesirable results.
It’s helpful for any project – from logos to multimedia ad campaigns – to have a clear target.
- Who is this for?
- What do they do?
- What is their day like?
- What do they want?
- What are their pain points?
- What will engage them?
Once you know those answers, it’s easier to define objectives.
- Do you want more leads?
- Do you want to raise awareness?
- Do you want to look more enticing than the competition?
Once we know who we’re talking to, we can craft a message that resonates.
- Do you have knowledge that will save money?
- Does your product improve lives?
- Do you have a service that is unique?
- Are you solving problems?
- Is there a call to action?
And then the really fun questions:
- What is the budget?
- What is the timeframe?
Having these answers – and uncovering other questions to answer in the process –helps us develop a strategic, compelling marketing plan. They do not stifle creativity, but funnel it. The marketer or designer will still bring interesting ideas to the table, but they won’t be just for the sake of having ideas.
Buyer Personas for Inbound Marketing
When it comes to inbound marketing, this kind of detailed knowledge helps to segment your customer base, allowing companies to more finely target specific groups. We call them buyer personas.
Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers. They are based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations and concerns. Once we know who we’re talking to, we can craft a message that resonates.
Learning about your customer – and what works, what doesn’t and why – shapes future communications, ensuring we consistently provide content that is useful, sought after and appreciated.
In addition to the questions above, we want to identify their needs and actions:
- What problems are they trying to solve?
- What are they searching for online?
- What information do they consume online?
- What social networks do they use?
The more knowledge we have, the better we can structure and enhance their experience on your website. Content can be separated and offerings tailored for each persona to ensure they receive information that is relevant to them.
The “trick” to targeting personas with inbound marketing is to understand it’s not a one-time-only deal. It’s an ongoing, committed relationship. Learning about your customer, and what works, what doesn’t and why, informs and shapes future communications, ensuring we consistently provide content that is useful, sought after and appreciated.