In order to generate leads online, you need (a) followers and (b) content
Marketers have always required a clear picture of their ideal customer. But understanding your audience goes beyond traditional demographics and job titles. In today’s competitive, online environment the more intimately you understand your audience, the more successful you’ll be at getting their attention and building trust online — all required components if your goal is to generate leads and eventually convert them to satisfied customers.
One of the best ways to define your ideal client is to describe them in excruciating detail. The construction of a persona (in Latin, the word persona refers to a theatrical mask) is a required step for success in online marketing. It’s not uncommon for companies to have more than one persona they market to.
Answer these questions to help you define your buyers
- What problems are they trying to solve?
- What problems do they have that they are not yet aware of?
- What will help them succeed in business?
- What will help them personally succeed?
- What are they in need of?
- What are they searching for?
There’s an overwhelming desire to forgo this exercise because companies claim to either ‘know who our clients are’ or ‘know who we are going after’ or some other iteration of this mistaken thinking.
In reality, time spent constructing an image of your ideal client is a meaningful exercise with huge potential payoffs unavailable to those that skip this important, basic, step in marketing. So, let’s build a fictional representation of your ideal client.
Why? Because understanding a prospect’s online behavior, combined with real-world knowledge of their situation, desires, pains, goals, concerns and motivations will help you tailor content and messages directly to your intended audience.
One of the best ways to begin to understand your ideal client is to talk to existing customers. Ask them how they came to hear about you, your company and your products and services. A better understanding of your target persona allows you to make audience-based decisions on content development and channel distribution.
The Holy Grail
The holy grail of identity is where your prospects hang out.
- What groups and associations do they belong to?
- Which social media sites do they frequent?
- Where they go to find answers to their problems.
- What newsletters do they subscribe to?
- Which blogs do they read?
- What podcasts do they listen to?
- What are their likes/dislikes?
- Who do they follow? Comment on?
- Who influences them?
- What do they value?
Ask clients what social media channels they frequent and if they’ve come across your company on any of those. Good marketers gather this information over time. Once you know this, you can begin to create specifically tailored content and messages for each persona.
Social Media: Dive in or Dip your toe?
If you believe that your ideal customer can be found on a specific social media site, hang out there for a while. Listen and monitor the conversation. See what’s important to your audience. Once you have a clear sense of the conversation on a particular channel, start interacting by asking questions and responding to others involved. You provide value by understanding your industry and the people in it. People will follow you if they value what you have to say. Get their attention with something that matters to them! This is how you earn trust online.
More than one level of content
Generally available content (i.e.; consistently posted informative blogs) boost your online credibility and subject matter expertise. More specific, in-depth content (i.e.; webinars) have higher value and should be made available in exchange for simple contact information.
With a deep understanding of your prospect personas, you have the ability to customize communications, content and offerings to each of them individually. The language you use for senior executives is different than it is for line staff or procurement. Segment your database on as many details as you can to tailor your communications appropriately. Determine:
- How much education is required for the person you are communicating with?
- What are their goals?
- How much time do they have to spend with or without you on this?
- What are their communication preferences: e-mail, social media, mobile, search, etc.
- Use visuals and graphics that are an appropriate match for each persona.
Educational content is of great value to your audience. Educational content engages prospects and promotes you and your brand. Offer your personas content they can use to make a decision to do business with you. Content comes is various forms including, but not limited to:
- How-to-purchase guides.
- Getting started documentation.
- Answers to FAQs.
- Answers to their most common objections.
Clients often ask “But won’t I be giving away too much?” My answer is “Not if you are the one who adds value.” Your content serves a purpose for your readers and should lead prospects along a journey. Each interaction should move them toward an eventual sale. When you provide them with what they need every step of the way, it gives them an idea of what it’s like being your customer. These early interactions represent the road to creating a loyal customer and are an indicator of how they’ll be treated after becoming one.
The level of professionalism, speed and thoughtfulness with which you engage and interact with prospects establishes, or diminishes, your credibility with your followers. Be authentic. Respond quickly. Offer high-value, suitable content at the right time.
Interaction comes in various forms: comments, conversion of landing pages, listeners, downloads, subscribers, etc. Visitors that interact with you via your website and your content become prospects. Nurturing these prospects with appropriate follow up offers and emails allows you to filter prospects and helps you identify sales-ready leads. Communications that reflect your knowledge of their situation result in further connection and trust.
When you understand people’s pain points, you:
- Display that you understand their role, daily pressures and what they are trying to accomplish.
- Relate to them on an emotional level.
- Are in a position to offer them help.
Measure the response to all of your efforts. Make changes according to your data. Let the data guide you to refine both content and persona details and determine where to double-down on your marketing efforts. Make the changes to your approach, distribution channels and content based on a majority of leads that convert.
This represents a small subset of the million little things necessary to make marketing work. What are your biggest challenges regarding persona development? Have you put off this exercise long enough? Need help? Contact us for your free Buyer Persona Worksheets and start connecting with your customers now.
Are you using personas? Has it helped? Let us know in the Comments section below. A real person reads and responds to all comments!
At Crest, we help companies:
- Create content that separates them from their competition
- Become subject matter experts in their field
- Measure the effectiveness of their marketing $$
- Generate a consistent pipeline of high-quality leads for less
- Turn clients into evangelists