When you’re a small business and not seeing clear, bottom-line results from your marketing efforts, more often than not it’s because you don’t have a methodological roadmap to hit specific marketing and sales goals in a specific timeframe.
And that’s fine, because at the end of the day, structuring a process-driven marketing plan for your business and then executing specific inbound campaigns to help drive more qualified traffic, leads and customers – that’s the easy part.
Where most companies fall short is a far more important place to start.
Let’s take a step back and start from the beginning, because too many companies overlook the most important facet of their marketing strategy.
It might sound silly, but I’ll go ahead and ask:
Do you know who you’re marketing to?
It’s not as simple of a question as it appears.
Let’s approach it from a few angles.
For one, it might not just be one type of ideal customer. Depending on your business model, you might have a number of people you’re marketing to. If you sell software that targets engineers and technicians who work for companies like Kodak or IBM in the OEM space, you might need to target the individual technician, but also the engineering manager or even the CIO of the company. These are three very different types of people, therefore the kind of marketing strategy we put together should be respective of each particular ideal buyer.
Whether you know it or not, you have more than one ideal customer profile. I’ve never encountered a company that caters their products or services just to one specific type of person.
Demographics vs. Psychographics: Finding Your Buyer Persona
Knowing that you’re trying to market to at least a few different groups of people, where do you go from here?
Perhaps you’ve already begun to construct some kind of customer profile in your company. You have a good sense of the different groups you’re trying to target and can segment them based on geography, on industry, on job title, age, gender, etc.
But it’s not just demographic information we need. We also need psychographic information.
Demographics help you understand who buys your product or service.
Psychographics help you understand how and why they buy.
Psychographics are where most companies fall short. Proper psychographic research includes answers to questions like:
- What hobbies and interests do you have?
- What does your day-to-day look like?
- What keeps you up at night? What’s on your mind these days?
- What are your goals? What do you value?
- What are your most common objections when you think about my product or service?
- How do you consume and process information? What are your research habits?
Demographics can be observed from the outside, but psychographics are internal attributes and can only be fully understood with real, primary research – hopping on the phone or meeting in person with prospects and current customers. As you might imagine, these profiles are dynamic and change over time. I’ve seen some companies take months to feel comfortable about answering these questions.
I was trained to say the word buyer persona, but I think that’s just a fancy way of combining both demographic and psychographic information into a clear story of who your ideal buyers really are.
In my two years at HubSpot, I learned how important buyer personas are to a company’s marketing and sales growth. Literally, on day one of training, my class was introduced to HubSpot’s own personas. At the time, we learned the three big personas we build for, we market and sell to, we service, etc. To this day, I could wax philosophical on “Owner Ollie,” “Marketing Mary,” and “Enterprise Erin.”
It was eye-opening for me.
HubSpot’s entire business strategy seemed to revolve around its ideal buyers. Entire teams were organized around buyer personas. It was fascinating.
Not only was it fascinating, but if I put my marketing hat back on, it’s incredibly effective to have fully fleshed out buyer personas.
Once you can intimately understand who you’re trying to target to and how they research and shop for your product or service, building an effective inbound marketing campaign becomes a lot easier.
Buyer personas show up in your keyword research. They show up in social media and blogging. They show up in your call-to-action buttons and on your landing pages and in your forms. They show up in the way you manage and segment your contact database and how you follow up with your contacts via email marketing.
I could go on, but I’ll stop here for now.