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4 Ways Buyer Personas Help You Target Customers

Posted byWed, Jul 10, 2013 @ 2:19 pm

I’m a writer, and I work from my gut. I didn’t think I needed to take the time to write buyer personas. After all, I’ve been writing professionally for 12 years—I know a thing or two about targeting a message. The experience—part of HubSpot partner training and, really, a critical practice for anyone selling anything—completely surprised me.

What is a persona?

Yoda small_www.flickr.com-photos-tinker-tailor-5534022520- copyPersonas are fictional characters you create to represent ideal customers. It’s not all fiction, though—personas are based on data and demographic commonalities, behavior patterns, motivation and goals. Think of personas as a generalized short story, a profile describing who the prospect is but also the what, when, where and why behind actions.

The reason personas are so important: they help you sell. In inbound marketing, language, type of content, message and your approach is vital to successfully fueling your sales pipeline. Personas help you create the right message for the right customer. You have to talk their talk.

Most companies have 3-5 personas when all is said and done; they keep an organization focused. When each story is really well fleshed out, departments like sales, marketing and customer service and even finance see the big picture along with specifics that relate to their role.


Handy, that. Personas can provide a structure to encourage collaboration across departments.

Without personas, inbound marketing efforts flop. Because inbound is all about creating the right kind of content to attract the right visitors to your website (true prospects), convert them into leads and educate them into becoming customers. But you can’t do that without a firm understanding of your ideal customer.

Unexpected benefits of writing personas

I thought I had it all in my head. But the physical act of writing personas gave me ideas and the ability to see and understand more about each ideal customer. We’re so used to working at what feels like the speed of light. Reflection and creative stimulus was a side benefit I didn’t expect.

Writing personas:

  • Slows you down. I reviewed by persona research and reflected on experiences with said target audience. Which gave me perspective—my value add. I wouldn’t have come to certain conclusions about how I help certain audiences without really thinking about their world, what they are tasked with, their objections, etc.
  • Gives you a clearer picture of your target. It could be as granular as: marketing managers at SMBs or marketing vice presidents at midsize or Fortune 500 companies. Technically, both roles fit into the same persona. But I found myself thinking about details like: how much budget or control of the budget do they have? Who are they accountable to, how is success measured?
  • Focuses your work. It’s common sense to address pain points, but go deeper: “how does your ideal customer measure success?” is a great question to ask—are they focused on increasing revenue or selling units? Increasing number of qualified leads? The more you know about their goals, they more you understand how to approach them, persuade and provide useful content. I found myself brainstorming additional ways I could be helpful. Could translate into additional business opportunities.
  • Clarifies the message. Writing well is difficult. I’ve found that the process is much smoother when my mind is free to roam and connect whirling thoughts. Referencing notes as I write helps me structure, capture all ideas and relate them to a persona. Make it easy on yourself: write everything down and spend time just looking at it before writing. This way you’ll be able to think about appealing words, phrases and offers.
 Buyer_Persona_Strategy_and_Research_tofu_moduleHow do you get started researching and writing personas?

Get HI’s free persona ebook and learn the questions to ask and strategies for conducting research and writing buyer personas. Download now.

Terra Hoskins is the principal of inbound marketing consultancy, Hoskins Interactive. She tweets at @terrahoskins

photo credit: Tinker*Tailor loves Lalka via photopin cc