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Building a Buyer Persona - Online Marketing Plan for Manufacturers

Hey Sales and Marketing Professionals! This is part 3 of our online marketing plan for manufacturers (Parts 1, 2).

Today we're going to dive into Building a Buyer Persona. We're going to put together a plan to understand our best buyer, and apply it to all of our marketing.


Here's a list of the other steps in this series on Building and Online Marketing Plan for Manufacturers:

How to Build Your Buyer Persona:

So, let's get right to it! You know how today's buyer's a little different than they were 5-10 years ago?

You know, they don't pick up the phone when you call them. They tend to mark you as SPAM if you email them, kind of unsolicited. They generally don't want to talk to you. It's because they're a completely different animal than they were before. They've got all this information at their fingertips, and they don't need you harassing them to give it to them.

All of these old tactics are a symptom of not having the right context around your buyer.

You're not at the right place, at the right time, with the right message.

You're bothering them at dinner time, or calling them on their lunch break trying to start up a conversation. That's not what they want. They want you to be where they are, when they need you, and that's what Buyer Personas are going to help us do.

What to Expect: Inbound Marketing - Download PDF Here

What is a Buyer Persona?

Buyer Personas help us to understand your best buyer as the engineer, professional buyer, or the executive that they are. As opposed to a broad range of demographic details. Age ranges, education levels, and marital statuses, which really don't tell us much about the actual persona, and what makes them tick.

We need to be able to relate to our best buyers as human beings, not just a demographic profile.

So, what's a good broad based definition of Buyer Personas?

Think of buyer personas as a fictional representation of your best buyer and what they think throughout their buying process.

From the moment that they recognize that they have a problem or opportunity, until they decide to go with you as their solution provider.

It's important to remember that your buyer persona is not a specific best buyer that you have. So, if you've worked with Jenny at XYZ Company for 20 years, supplying them the parts they need, and you just love working with them. It's easy. They appreciate what you do. They pay you fairly, and everything is wonderful.

Jenny is representative of your buyer persona. She has characteristics or that company has characteristics of a buyer persona, but you don't want to just target Jenny, because by just targeting Jenny, you're excluding Jim, Tim, Bob, and Sue everywhere else, that may be an ideal buyer for you.

You want to take a clump of your best buyers, and get an idea of all of their characteristics. Why are they best buyers? How do they go about their buying process? Because it's going to vary a bit from buyer to buyer.

So, your buyer persona will be solid if you can answer the all of the 'W' questions:

  • Who,
  • What,
  • When,
  • Where,
  • Why,
  • and then ultimately How, which isn't a 'W' but you get the point.

Primary and Secondary Research

You might be thinking, "Donny, this persona thing sounds great, but where in the heck am I going to get all these insights?".

Primary Research, and Secondary Research.

OK, so your Primary Research is things like interviews and surveys. We want to grab a range of 6-10 existing customers that fit this profile of being an ideal, perfect buyer, as well as companies that maybe you lost along the way. For whatever reason they went another direction, and you've lost their business. Also, some prospects that you're working with that may potentially buy from you. These are all great interview sources. You're going to need about 30 minutes of their time to ask them some very broad range questions. The biggest being, WHY?

So, when you ask them a question about what motivated their company to start their research process before you found us, and they provide you an answer, you say 'Interesting, why is that?'.

Why should be your go-to question, over and over again, because in the 'Why' is where the insights are for where you need to be online, what content you need to produce, and how your marketing can reach them.

The second primary research, surveys, is great for those individuals, that are probably not comfortable being interviewed, but are willing to share some insights. You're not going to get as many as you will with an interview because you can't continuously probe for deeper answers, but you can set your survey up with 'Why' as well. Why did you answer that way?

That's a great, straight from the horse's mouth, primary set of research. So you want to log all of this. If you can record your calls. Obviously with their approval. Even video would be even better, or in person on video. So you can see their mannerisms, and how they handle things. That's a wealth of information for your sales and marketing.

Then, you have your secondary research. This is data mining. You have a CRM, you have past customer information. You can dive into what some of the processes you had to go through to close XYZ client that has been a phenomenal success for our company?

Your sales people are a good resource. Your customer account representatives a great resource. Pull all that data together and culminate it into one pile of research that you're then going to work on to establish your buyer persona.

Once you've completed this round, and remember this is an iterative process, so over time you're going to want to do more interviews, you're going to want to get more secondary research, and you're going to want to put them together to evolve your persona and make sure you have a better understanding.

At this point, once you've gone through an initial stage of research, it's time to put your persona together, and start to document that actual profile.

Here's a link to an awesome resource. It's a completely FREE resource that even includes a worksheet for taking this information that you've gathered, and putting it into an actual buyer persona.

It also dives deeper into some of the items that I've already covered here in terms of research, and questions you should ask during your persona interviews, and what the whole process looks like. It's called the Ultimate Guide to Buyer Personas, for Beginners. It's linked below in the description, so make sure you grab that.

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Persona Tips

After you've built your buyer persona, there're a few tips that I want you to take away.

1. If your persona ends up living in a file on a shared drive somewhere, and you never refer to it, this has been a complete waist of time, and it's going to negatively impact your online marketing plan, obviously.

2. If you're a sales or marketing professional, as I'm assuming you are, print that sucker out, and stick it on your wall next to your desk. Keep it front and center. Who are you marketing to? Who are you selling to? Constantly remind yourself of, whether this persona would like what you're doing? Would they respond well to it.

Is it going to be the right place, at the right time, with the right message?

Next is Part 4 - Buyer's Journey

Alright, our next step in the Online Marketing Plan for Manufacturers is to define this persona's, buyer's journey. Which goes from Awareness, when they first decide that they have a problem, through consideration. What are their options for solving the problem? To decision. Why do they pick you over your competitor?

Remember, there're resources in the YouTube Video description that are going to help you build your personas. There are also some great statistical resources that will give you some great benefits to using Buyer Personas, as well as a couple blog posts that I think are really going to help with the overall understanding of personas.

Applying the Buyer's Journey with Examples - Part 4 - Online Marketing Plan for Manufacturers