Building buyer personas is one of the critical first steps to developing and implementing a lead generating marketing campaign for your business or client. Identifying your ideal customer and interviewing key individuals or groups of individuals who align with the characteristics of that ideal customer, is the spot-on way to gather information needed to create the most detailed persona outline. Individuals or groups may include current customers, prospective customers, and third party networks. Information collected that will provide valuable insight for your persona development may include both demographic and psychographic information, needs, interests, goals, challenges,pain points, social networks used, areas where the prospect interacts with others or does research online, and more.
In some circumstances, especially in the situation of agency representatives executing the process on behalf of a client, conducting targeted persona interviews is not always an option. This was a recent situation I found myself in when identifying personas for a B2B client selling a highly complex and competitive product. Even without direct access to past or existing customers, having a broad understanding of our key purchaser helped pinpoint their field of work and job positions occupied by our client’s target buyer personas.
LinkedIn Features To Help Build Buyer Personas
1. Bios & Job Postings
How often do you find your marketing team discussing the minute details of a particular persona? In some cases, gender, marital status, likes & dislikes are relevant – but these factors often fit in the same category as whether or not you prefer Eric or Bill (for all you True Blood fans) – they really don’t matter. What IS important are the factors that provide insight into the work life, objectives, and pain points your buyer faces that could be alleviated by your product or service. All of these insights can be collected searching for people on LinkedIn by industry or geographic area, and then narrowing down by job title and workplace. Reviewing a few individuals that fit your search criteria will show you the following valuable persona info:
- Commonalities between individuals in similar industries and job positions
- Demographics, geographic location and career history
- Strengths, weaknesses and what motivates them
- Interests and areas of service
Another search function that provides information that can be applied to persona development is reviewing job postings for positions that fit your key purchaser. Job postings list attributes of the people that will be acquiring the position and some of their specific job functions. All of this information can be used to identify the needs and pain points for a potential buyer as well as some of the activities that take place in their life day-to-day.
2. Awards, Endorsements and Recommendations
Reviewing individual’s awards, the oftentimes misunderstood endorsements and recommendations allow us to see how their connections view our targeted personas. Awards listed on a profile show what the prospect views to be important career achievements and the areas of their position they value the most. This insight provides an opportunity to craft messaging that positions your product or service in a way that helps the prospect be even more successful in that particular area.
Looking further at endorsements and recommendations shows what the individual needs to be successful, their leadership & management style, work ethic and methods of communication with clients and other industry representatives. For example, if you’re reviewing the profile of a man who is an Electrical Engineer, you are likely to find he has endorsements and recommendations that touch on problem solving and automation, as well as traits that position him as analytical and methodical. From this information you can gather that he is both creative and meticulous with a good work ethic and proven accountability. He is tasked with coming up with important solutions and designs that improve productivity and promote cost savings. Considering these qualities, he is in need of information and solutions that create efficiencies and improve processes.
3. Survey Relevant Connections
If you’re already actively using LinkedIn to connect and communicate with other business professionals, you most likely have a database of individuals who would be open to your request for information. Review your current connections and search by title, organization, location, etc. Make a list of all the connections that have professional or personal characteristics that fit your target persona(s). You also have the option of exporting connections by clicking on “Contacts”, click the settings gear icon on the top right, and click “Export LinkedIn Connections” under “Advanced Settings” on the right. You have the option to export as a .CSV or .VCF file.
When reaching out to request that the individual be surveyed for information, be clear of the following:
- Specify that your call or email interview is not a sales call. It is important, especially for customers, that they understand your interview is primarily for research.
- If you are reaching out to individuals that do not know you, a small incentive may be the added bonus needed for them to commit to taking the time to answer your questions.
- Be flexible with timing, and provide reminders when needed.
4. Use Advanced Search / People Finder
LinkedIn continues to develop its functionality for finding people, prospective business associates and individuals with very specific competencies and keywords included in their profile. Searches can be performed by typing a person’s name, keywords or titles into the search box at the top of the page. Advanced searches can be performed by using specific criteria such as location, school, industry, etc. Click the “advanced” link at the right of the search box or the top of the search results page. Be sure to search for keywords that may be included in your target buyer’s title, bio and experience background.
LinkedIn allows you to save up to three people searches. To save a search, click the “Save This Search” option on the right – this will give you the opportunity to easily run the search again later. You can also choose the option to receive weekly or monthly reminders once new members in the network match your saved criteria.In this video, Jeff Coon of Stream Creative sat down with LinkedIn expert, Wayne Breitbarth, to discuss how the use of the advanced search function can support the development of buyer personas:
The key to any successful marketing campaign is addressing the pain points of your prospective buyer and connecting on a personal level. Gathering information using LinkedIn to outline targeted personas can be an incredibly valuable tool for marketers as you develop messaging and design to attract your prospective buyers. Using a few easy LinkedIn functions will allow you to quickly survey or gather relevant information that contributes to an overall persona profile.
In challenging buyer persona-development situations, has LinkedIn been a valuable tool for your marketing team? If so, what functions do you find most useful?