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Do you know who your customers are? Think about it. Do you really know all about your best customers? Where do they go for vacation? How much time do they spend on Facebook per week? Are they early adopters of technology or do they fear change?

The answers to these questions (and many others) can help a small business develop a clear picture of it’s customers.  It’s called a buyer’s persona and it’s a very important element to consider for the inbound marketing efforts of any company, regardless of it’s size.  But small companies strapped for time can really benefit from the efficiency gained from developing person’s.

What Is A Buyer Persona?

So right about now you should be asking what the heck is a Buyer Persona anyway.  Here’s the answer; a buyer persona is a semi-fictional of your ideal customer. It takes into consideration real facts and data along with some educated guesses based on that data. It looks at behavior patterns, motivations, goals and demographics of your customers and comes up with a portrait that can be used to tailor your marketing to.

Why Your Small Business Needs Buyer Personas

Now that you know what buyer personas are you may be wondering why you need them. To put it simply; all of your marketing should be geared to filling your customers needs. The only way to know what those needs are is to know who your customers are and understand how they behave.

All the content that you create for your inbound marketing efforts should be tailored to the needs and wants of your buyer personas.

How To Create Buyer Personas

One thing to keep in mind while you are creating buyer personas is that it is not a finite process. You will continue to tweak and adjust your buyer personas as new information comes in.

One of the easiest ways for any business to discover who their customers are is to ask them.  Small business owners wearing multiple hats have enough on their plates but, interviewing current customers to find out what they like, where they want to go and what they want to improve is a task worth taking on.  In fact if you sit and think about it you can likely answer many of these questions about your current clients without the ‘official’ interview, since smaller companies tend to have more personal relationships with their clients.

Also, keep in mind that this does not have to be a formal sit down interview, you can send out a questionnaire of set up a poll on your website, or social media platforms.

If you decide to take this on, you’ll needt to take some time and determine what kind of information you want to receive. Write down the areas that you want to explore; professional, personal, buying habits, goals, social media preferences, etc. Then develop questions of each sections and compile them all into a buyer persona questionnaire. This is going to be the document from which your buyer personas will be built.  Check out this post on 4 things a small business should include in a buyer persona.

When the data starts coming in take notice of any patterns that arise. You will see that you start to get the same answers to certain questions. These trends are the building blocks of your buyer personas.

There may be a few sections of your buyer personas where no clear trend exists. In these situations it is okay to make an educated guess as to what your ideal customer would do. As stated before this is an ongoing process so do not get discouraged. You will eventually get the answers that you are seeking.

While you are collecting data make sure to focus on the motives behind the behaviors. Why do they choose that product or solution? What is the goal behind the action?

You will most likely end up with more than one buyer persona. This is okay. What you will find is that there will be one primary persona. This is the one you want to focus on. Create content and market to this persona first and then move down the list.

Once you have a the data and characteristics of your primary persona it is now time to “flesh out” the character. You will do this by telling their story.

Take the time to really understand what their personal and professional life is like. What is the average day on the job like? Where do they go to find needed information? What are their challenges? This exercise will really bring your buyer personas to life and make it easier to market to them.

The whole process will take some time to implement but you and your company will be better off for the time put in.  A small company will especially benefit from the time savings gained through specific targeting of content.  Once your buyer personas are in place add them to your inbound marketing strategy and then work on coming up with remarkable, and various types of content (blog post, pod cast, video, etc.) to effectively reach them.