How to Humanize Marketing With Buyer Personas

In Pragmatic Institute’s October webinar, Tony Zambito, a leading authority on buyer persona development and buyer insights research, discussed how companies can connect with buyers by tapping into their emotions to attract, nurture and convert them into genuine leads. The number one marketing challenge companies face, according to Tony, is how to connect with their buyers. Digital technology has made more tools available to buyers but it has also changed the way buyers interact with the market. People are tired of corporate and product speech. There’s a sense that competitors all say the same thing and none of it feels relevant. Although companies tend to quantify and objectify their products and services, every product or service has a human story behind it, filled with drama and emotion. In fact, emotion plays a key role in human-based marketing efforts. In a study of 720 senior executives, more than 65 percent said they rely on subjective insights and emotions when making decisions. Companies that only focus on the 35 percent of executives who use sales intelligence to make their decisions are missing out on a lot of potential buyers. Buyer personas are an effective element of a human-centered approach to marketing. They are archetypal representations of real people, their goals and their human stories. They tell us what’s happening in the world of these buyers. Goals are at the heart of buyer personas. The more companies can understand why a goal is important and why someone behaved a certain way to accomplish the goal, the closer they will be to connecting with that particular buyer. Companies can discover a lot about buyer emotions and the best ways to market to each buyer persona by asking: • Why is something important for this person and this buyer? • What is driving them to accomplish this particular goal? • What are they doing to accomplish that goal? • How does my company help that person? Companies can further increase their odds of connecting with buyers by focusing on these seven ways to humanize their marketing efforts. Research the human story, not just intelligence. Sales intelligence focuses on KPIs, buying criteria and initiatives but misses the human-centered stories. Effective buyer personas focus on human-centered insights rather than on sales intelligence. Human context matters. Talk to customers and buyers directly using sound, qualitative research techniques so they will describe their human-centered stories. Focus on goal-centered emotions. It’s important to understand which goal-directed behaviors are driving decisions. Ask about personal goals, business goals and experience goals. Seek to understand the unarticulated mindset. People often have a hard time expressing what they’re feeling and thinking. But their attitudes, perceptions and previous learning represent their world view and influence their decisions. Focus on the contextual path to purchase, not the generic buyer’s journey. The same product may solve different problems for each buyer. Don’t lose focus of the context by trying to force-fit a generic description of how companies think someone will buy. Use buyer personas to listen to buyers. Embrace story listening before storytelling to understand the particular goals, scenarios, attitudes and beliefs that actually influence buyer behavior. Connect to the human story behind the product. Buyers have little tolerance for marketing that doesn’t connect to their story. Understand the human standard approach as it relates to marketing. For more information about humanized marketing and creating effective buyer personas, listen to the full webinar with Tony and the Pragmatic Institute team.

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