Marketing always stresses the fact that you must identify the right prospects and understand their needs. But how would you do that? You will have to understand their motivation and their decision-making process.
As a service provider or small business owner, you already have an understanding of your client and you know how to identify your potential clients but you must translate this understanding into your social selling activities.
What are Buyer Personas?
A Buyer Persona is your definition of an ideal customer, created from your understanding of existing customers and a study of consumer behaviour before, during and after your business transaction. Practically speaking, in a less than ideal world, businesses define multiple buyer personas.
A buyer persona can be seen as a partially fictional template of your potential customers, but this template helps you find real people. LinkedIn, especially the sales navigator, identifies and suggests professionals based on its own set of templates.
Why Should You Create a Buyer Persona?
You may not see yourself as a marketing professional, but if you are on LinkedIn, you have to make the most of it. Buyer Personas can maximize returns on your networking efforts.
Once you define your buyer personas, you will see a significant improvement in lead generation on LinkedIn. It will also be helpful when you upgrade to a Sales Navigator account, especially because:
1. You become better equipped to identify prospects and streamline your networking efforts i.e. you and your employees conduct targeted online searches and profile evaluation on the basis of your buyer personas.
2. You optimise your content strategy, online engagement and messaging strategy.
3. You can standardise each activity of your sales funnel.
4. You can get better results out of your marketing department or your digital marketing agency. A webinar of DemandGen, Brighttalk and Forrester observed that persona-based e-mail campaigns resulted in doubling the open rate and increasing the click-thru rate by 5 times.
5. You can improve your brand and brand positioning.
You are on LinkedIn to network with:
1. Decision Makers: These include departmental heads, business owners, procurement personnel, CXOs and your consumers. There are ways and means to communicate directly with decision-makers and if they fit your buyer persona, you can frame a better introduction for your business.
2. Influencers: These include thought leaders, market leaders, innovators, trendsetters, brand ambassadors, celebrities and authoritative subject experts. Some of these influencers have a profound impact on the decision-making process of your buyer personas.
3. Active Networkers: These include open networkers and certain members and admins of LinkedIn Groups. Herein, you have to assess the possibility of getting referred or introduced to your buyer persona.
It is clear that your buyer persona is a decision-maker. While you do compile and categorise LinkedIn profiles as influencers and active networkers, their call to action is to connect with those professionals and individuals who hold the power to make decisions. Hence, if an influencer has no influence on your target profiles, it is best that you move on.
How to Use LinkedIn to Create a Buyer Persona?
1. Create Your Persona Template: Make a list of your target industries, companies, designations, age-groups, locations and functions. Prioritise and combine them to arrive at various profile possibilities. Now, see each possible combination and use your experience to define possible motivations, habits and pain points of each profile that may influence them to buy from you. Eventually, you will arrive at some personas that would need immediate attention. For now, this is a persona template that can yield a buyer persona after it is validated through market research.
2. Conduct LinkedIn Research: You have to identify profiles that match your template by:
a. Conducting an advanced search based on your parameters of industry, profession, location, designation and function.
b. Reviewing all aspects of a LinkedIn profile. While their profile describes their self-view, their accomplishments and online activities can provide behavioural insights and the hashtags or influencers that they follow. Their testimonials and groups can give an understanding of their relationship with other professionals.
c. Researching Job descriptions of LinkedIn job listings of their designation or role. This would provide information about their employer’s expectations.
d. Study LinkedIn Reports like Usage reports for the UK, Emerging Jobs in the UK etc. It certainly helps if you get to know that 20% of professionals of a certain profession in the UK consider financial stability to be their top priority.
3. Using LinkedIn Information for a Web Search: Finding the social media presence of LinkedIn users is easy. You can get a better understanding of your prospect by reviewing social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube etc. Additionally, you can use some combinations of the information retrieved from LinkedIn to search for professional submissions, event participation, news items etc.
Do remember, you are collecting information from the public domain and while the General Data Protection Rules (GDPR) is in place, you must do this without any 3rd party automation tools.
Here’s how you can create your own fool-proof buyer personas:
1) Learn About Your Customers
A concrete buyer persona contains the answers to the majority of these questions:
- What is the buyer’s gender?
- What is the buyer’s age?
- What is the buyer’s household income?
- Who lives with the buyer at home?
- Does the buyer live in an urban, suburban or rural environment?
- How does the buyer spend his/her day?
- Who does the buyer look up to?
- What does the buyer read for fun?
- What does the buyer do for fun?
- What level of education has the buyer achieved?
- What type of company does the buyer work for?
- What is the buyer’s role/title in the company?
- What are the buyer’s biggest challenges at work?
- How does the buyer define success in the workplace?
- What are the buyer’s career goals?
- What are the buyer’s biggest fears (or “pain points”)?
- What are the buyer’s most common objections?
- How can your product or service help solve the buyer’s challenges?
- How tech savvy is the buyer?
- Which social networks does the buyer prefer?
- How does the buyer prefer to communicate?
But how do you find the answers to those burning questions? You could:
- Survey existing clients.
- Invest in one-on-one interviews
- Check your analytics
- Talk to your employees
The most important thing to remember when creating buyer personas is that you should never assume. Guessing that your customers are millennials when they’re actually aged 50+, for example, could throw off marketing campaigns drastically because you wouldn’t target them in the same way.
Granted, investing in buyer persona research can be a big investment — especially if you’re incentivising clients to take part in your surveys — but having that concrete data, rather than guesswork, is bound to save £/$/Eur in the long run.
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