34 min read

What are buyer personas really? And who are they? (HubHeroes Podcast, Ep. 4)

We've already talked about the buyer's journey and creating great content – two foundational elements of what it takes to be successful with HubSpot and inbound. But you can't talk about what it takes to be successful with inbound without talking about buyer personas.

The most basic definition of a buyer persona that folks toss around is that they're fictional representations of your ideal buyers, but they are so much more than that. That's not technically wrong, but there is so much more to the buyer personas discussion that often gets totally missed:

  • When you develop your buyer personas with intentionality and purpose, they are the compass that points you in the right direction of what content you create. 
  • Not all your buyer personas should be the decision-makers you're targeting. 
  • Marketers aren't the only ones at your company who should be using buyer personas. 

That's why we knew we had to dedicate our HubHero superpowers fully in this episode to the topic of buyer personas. Because they're so dang essential, and yet they're so often completely misunderstood.

But all of that misunderstanding ends today. By the end of this episode, you'll have total clarity on how to create buyer personas for your teams (or refine them to make them more powerful, if you have them already!), and how to use them properly.


WE ALSO TALK ABOUT ... 

  • Negative buyer personas – what they are, why you need them, and why they may not always be negative buyer personas forever.
  • Understanding the power of the researcher persona, because while they may not be your primary decision-maker, you absolutely need to pay attention to them and feed them great content.
  • Why your sales team should also care about buyer personas, because they're not just a tool for marketers! 
  • If you're a B2B marketer, you'll love this one:! We also dig into the differences between ideal customer profiles and buyer personas, and how they work together. 

Are you ready to dig in? Let's do this! 

NOW, LISTEN TO THIS WEEK'S EPISODE

RESOURCES FOR THIS EPISODE

Some of these we talked about, others we're adding because they're only going to make the episode that much sweeter for you ... 

YOUR ONE THING FROM THIS EPISODE

Honestly, I need to mention two things from this episode: I know that's cheating, but whatever. These two things matter! 

  • If you've already created personas, now is the time to revisit them. Do you have negative personas? Have you overlooked researcher personas? Are you even using them to their fullest potential?
  • And if you haven't created personas, your directive is simple. Make your buyer personas, and take the time to get them right. The power is in your hands! 

 

TRANSCRIPTION OF THE SHOW

George B. Thomas (01:09):

You know, what I love about that is that you guys have your own thoughts. I love the fact that you guys have your own thoughts and they are not the thoughts of your employer. So we're gonna move forward with your thoughts because today heavily,

Max Cohen (01:21):

Heavily influenced

George B. Thomas (01:22):

Heavily influenced, maybe just a little bit. So, but, but here's the thing. So are mine, like, I mean, you're not gonna spend 10 years with HubSpot and inbound and not be influenced by the things that you've read, although we all have some kind of outside of those realms and things that we've learned, but it's interesting. I'm excited to dive in today's conversation because we almost dipped into it. Last episode, I feel like I almost had grabbed the back of max and pull him out of the pit that he was kind of sliding into because this week we're gonna talk about buyer personas. Like we do, you're basically at the library or at the bar or whatever place you wanna envision as we're in your ears. And you're listening in on a conversation that probably if we combine the years is decades worth of thoughts and things like that. So let's just start at the very beginning. Like we always do max and Devin as historical trainers, as people who help humans today, when you start this conversation around buyer personas, how do you explain what the heck they are?

 

Buyer personas are also the people you don't want to talk to

Devyn Bellamy (02:24):

I describe buyer personas as the people that you're talking to. And not just the people that you want to talk to, the people that you don't wanna talk to, you gotta find out who it is that you're communicating to. And I won't, I won't tell you why just yet we'll save that for later. But yeah, buyer personas are basically the, the categories of people that you're speaking to as they relate to your product offerings. And purchasing,

Max Cohen (02:53):

I think the definition that like HubSpot gave it the fictional representation of your ideal customer, there's interesting utility in like making it that fictional representation, almost kind of making them like a little bit of a character because I think buyer personas or the idea of buyer personas has a lot more use out of just kind of what I harp on a lot, which is making content. My whole thing with buyer personas is that I really focused on them. And I think I really tried to get people to op oversimplify it because if I think of any of these things, like the buyer personas, the inbound methodology, the buyer's journey, those are a lot of different sort of concepts, I guess, that are all supposed to kind of work together. And oftentimes you could get like very, very confusing for a lot of folks. So for me, I always tried to over simplify these concepts as much as possible.

Max Cohen (03:40):

So for me, when I think of a buyer persona, yeah, it's a fictional representation of your ideal customer. Sure. But like, my question is how could I make it? So marketers could then use that to actually make a little bit of progress on their marketing efforts when they were using Hubspotter. The majority of the time that I was talking about this is when I was helping onboard folks. So we were getting the marketing hub up and going again, we've all kind of talked about it. It's, it's really hard to get a lot of value outta that without creating content. Where does your content come from, comes from your buyer personas. It comes from the goals and challenges that these people had. For me, it was always just like trying to simplify it into like, these are the people who you're writing content for. Anytime you're trying to create something, make sure it's something that these people are looking for. And that's the utilities that it serves. We can get into more like specifics later. But I totally agree with you Devin. I think that's a great explanation of it. We're in line there.

Devyn Bellamy (04:28):

You just said something that totally reminded me for my days in radio, we used to have a picture of, it was just a stock photo of a woman and a description. And over the top it says at star 94 7, our listener is, and then it would say woman, black woman, between 35 and 45 married, two children, household income, over 90 grand. And so everything we said, and we had that photo right in front of the microphone, everything we said, we're imagining that this is the person we're talking to. And buyer personas. There was a time when we used the term target demographic, you know, that's, that's what us older folks used to say. Buyer personas are, are, are a bit more nuanced and not only are they more nuanced in their description of them individually, but there's more than one buyer persona.

 

Fun fact! Your buyer persona isn't always going to be your buyer

Max Cohen (05:19):

True on top of that too, when it comes to creating the content, your buyer persona, isn't always gonna be the one buying, right? Mm. Why buyer persona doesn't Hey buyer, pu buyer persona. Doesn't always mean decision maker, especially when you're looking at creating a buyer persona for the utility of creating content from it.

Devyn Bellamy (05:41):

Hope they heard that in the cheap seats.

George B. Thomas (05:43):

Yeah. Right. We might have to say it again. I'm sure it'll be said again, but give me a second, cuz I need to take my target market Walker and set it to the side here as, as, as, as <laugh>, as, as one of, of the old people in the room. I do remember that. And here's the thing what's funny is actually I, the question I asked is how do you teach buyer personas? And again, for another episode, I teach it completely different than what you gentlemen have said. Not that I disagree, although there is a piece that frustrates the crap outta me, I'll get to that. Not that I disagree with anything that you say, but when I start to teach people, buyer personas in HubSpot, I literally teach it as list segmentation.

Max Cohen (06:23):

Hmm. Ingrain 'em early.

George B. Thomas (06:24):

Yeah. I, so I try to keep it as simple as possible. There are humans that you can serve and there are humans that you can serve. And so what we're gonna work on is we're gonna work on knowing the roles, goals, and challenges of the people that you can work with. Those are gonna be your positive personas. And I'll talk about how I actually set those up in hub all with people, and then we're gonna have one or two negative personas. Those people that you know, that you can't help because there's some awesome, dope, magical automation that we can put into place that we don't have to waste the time of marketing and sales until those non FITT. We can see that they're going in the right direction. Here's what frustrates me though, is the fact. And max, you said it a fictional representation of the, I hate that.

George B. Thomas (07:08):

It says like that fictional. You didn't sound like that. The voice in my mind sounds like that every time I read it or hear HubSpot academy, say it, no, I get that. It can't be Jimmy. I get that. And I get that. It can't be Susie. I get it. But I wish that we wouldn't be putting people's mind in the state of fiction because we all live in reality. These are real human beings with real problems that we can really solve with the products and services that we have. So I get what they're trying to say, but that psychological trigger mindset of a fictional representation of a no, no, no, no. It's just a humans. You help. Or the humans that you don't help and please humanize them so that you can humanize the content so that you can humanize the sales process because the most human business wins. I'll get off my soapbox on that one for a second. But literally yes, I agree. Positive personas, negative personas drives content drives sale is part of ideal client profiles. Oh, don't get me started. We'll get into that in a little bit. But the fact of the matter is in HubSpot, it is the base fundamental piece that you have to have in place for list segmentation and a major part of your form strategy, because you need to come up with what are second smart questions. We'll dive into that a little bit later as well.

Max Cohen (08:35):

That's super interesting. And, and if people like don't know what George is alluding to there and, and George, I don't know how deep you're gonna go into it later, but you know, inside of HubSpot and you could do this with other tools, if you wanted to. But inside of HubSpot, there is actually this field called persona. It's a very magical one that you can go in and you can put little descriptions on how these people would self-identify as who they are. When they're filling out a form, I am an it director. I am a, you know, individual employee or, and what's cool about that is when you really kind of structure your content around these type of people that would identify as one of those personas or descriptors that you would put on a form. It's really interesting because as you see people build up enough trust in you to actually convert on your content, you could kind of start seeing like how these people self-identify and who your content is actually resonating with.

And what's sometimes more interesting is not seeing how many people identify as one of those personas you may have, but how many people don't and choose the other option, because that also kind of tells you, Hey, you might be attracting like a whole different audience with your content here. Maybe that's a good thing. Maybe that's a bad thing. Marketing's one big experiment after all. But I think the, the big thing I want to kind of point out here is that this is why I'm like super excited to have this conversation because all three of us have, while we kind of like we're in general alignment and agreement on this, we do have very, very different perspectives, I think on how to approach and how to use buyer personas, even though we're kind of at a higher level align. So this should be an instant conversation for everybody to listen

George B. Thomas (10:03):

To. And max, I'm super excited that you mentioned this are others. And here's what I would say. Hub heroes, if you're listening this right now and you think to yourself, well, I don't have an other in my persona tool in HubSpot yet. You've heard people say that you need to do persona research over time. Guess what other is part of your persona research? Because I'll give you a little story. At one point, when I worked for The Sales Lion and Marcus Sheridan, we had three major personas. It was all about marketing. It was all about sales and it was all about like event planners. However, we added this magical other to the persona tool. And all of a sudden we realized that there was a metric, but ton of agencies who were listening to the HubCast a metric, but ton of agencies who were downloading the stuff that we had.

And so all of a sudden we had to come up with the persona that was Adam, the agency owner, or employee. It could have been Anna too. My, not my point, but we had realized, wow, there's a whole nother audience for the positive max that we need to start serving. And so again, action item here is if you don't have other in there, you need to have an internal conversation. Should we add other? And what does that affect upstream, downstream all the streams. If we add that in the other one too, I'll just throw this out real quick. If you're listening to this and you're like, oh, I would gladly join an event to see max George Devin or just George or whoever shows up to actually talk about specifically how to use the persona tool in HubSpot. You just need to hit the hashtag hub heroes podcast and let us know that's an event you would be interested in.

 

Buyer personas aren't just for marketers, y'all

Devyn Bellamy (11:43):

Well, first you can also find us on LinkedIn. We're all pretty active there. One of the things that I wanted to bring up was looking at it from a sales perspective. We've talked a lot about marketing, but personas are very helpful for sales people, too, seeing how people self-identify on forms. And if you've never created a form and we've kind of gone over your head, if you go to the forms and you see what, how would you describe your role? And you see VP and then manage her and then individual contributor. What they're doing on the back end is putting you into a persona. Now, the reason why that helps with sales is because, well, there's two different things. A salesperson can do. One thing. They can just cherry pick, which is horrible, where they just go through and look for the people they believe are in the decision maker category.

Don't do that. What you want to do. You talk to everybody, every door, every store, every floor, if they fog a mirror or pitch 'em, if they're qualified, what you should be doing is talking to people who are in not only their buyer's journey, but in their buyer's persona, where they're at, who they are and talk to them that way and speak to their problems and tailor your demo, which if you're doing a cookie cutter demo, you're doing it wrong. You should tailor your demo or your pitch or whatever you want to call it. Have that conversation with that person and address their needs. Because if they're not a decision maker, that's okay. You can turn them into a champion and they can get you to a decision maker. And a lot of times they can help the decision maker, make the decisions themselves.

George B. Thomas (13:20):

Yeah. A whole researcher strategy is something that will take you next level. But I gotta back up. I need to rewind for a hot bang. Second. Did you say every store? Every floor. Every door.

Devyn Bellamy (13:33):

Yes I did.

Max Cohen (13:33):

If they fog a window pitch,

George B. Thomas (13:36):

Man, <laugh> I feel like that's t-shirt worthy right now. Print it, set it, send it. Let's get it going. That's

Max Cohen (13:43):

What we put on the back of the podcast

George B. Thomas (13:44):

Shirt. Yeah. That's

Max Cohen (13:46):

Fogging windows. Since

Devyn Bellamy (13:49):

Love it. Shout out to everybody who used to do door to door sales. That was one of our mantras.

 

Ideal customer profiles vs. buyer personas

George B. Thomas (13:54):

That is amazing. And it was so it just came out fluid. And I was, I gotta write this down. Every store, every floor, every door. Yeah. It's amazing. All right, max, I wanna go into this direction. That's been bugging me all freaking week, all week. It's been bugging me and I, I was waiting for this moment in time to actually talk about this. You said, and I, and people can go back to last episode and they can listen where you said, call it ideal client profiles, call it buyer personas. I don't care what you call the same thing. And I brother, I died a little inside because here's the thing. If you're B2 CD and you're listening to this, I'm not gonna argue with max. There's probably not a large differentiation of what you would consider an ideal customer, ideal client profile, a buyer persona, and a B to C site.

Now B2B worlds of difference because an ideal client profile is the company. The ideal client profile is when we start to look into target accounts and account based marketing and those types of things. Now we need an ideal client profile. It's this type of com mid-size company with a hundred employees that makes $1.5 million a year, ideal client profile. Now, because we talked about all of this working together, where does the conversation today fit in? Will the buyer persona on the B2B side, the buyer persona fits in. Now I have these two or three potential types of people that work inside of this ideal client profile that I wanna actually create content and communicate with, cuz it could be the CMO, the CEO or the janitor that may reach out because the janitor lost the short ends straw and had to do the research, whatever. I don't know why the janitor's on my website, but at the end of the day, there's these three different type of people. Humans personas from this ideal client company. And I know I'm using different words because I want you to understand the words that I'm saying. That mean, what we typically say is ideal client profile and buyer persona. So it is a rubrics, a matrix that layers that we need to pay attention to, not the same thing. Okay. I got that off my chest. I I'm gonna be able to sleep tonight.

Max Cohen (16:00):

True, true. And, and like the thing is, is like, I don't disagree with you at all. You need to know what kind of business that you're selling to or what kind of business that person works at. Because again, that's gonna heavily influence what their goals and challenges are. Again, this is kind of where we like, we're looking at this all at like different angles, but we're all looking at the same thing, which is good because people need multiple angles to look at this stuff. Cause not everyone's gonna synthesize it the same way. Big reason why I try to hyper simplify it is that I'm just trying to get people to where they have the basic tools that they need to start doing. The really hard thing, which is creating content. Guess what your software is not difficult. Hubspot is not super difficult to use at the end of the day.

There's plenty of training. You can take to figure it out. There's plenty of people like us. You can listen to, to learn how to use the tool. The thing that's always gonna be very difficult is creating good content. My emphasis on oversimplifying is to really just get people to a place where they get the minimum of what they actually need to actually just start getting in the motion of creating content. And like, so for me, I wasn't the person that would send someone to, I would send people to like make my buyer persona.com or I would send them the template. But I would also just give them the little caveat of, Hey, have fun, filling out as much of that stuff as you want, but the place where you should spend 90% of your time, especially if you're just getting started. And this is a first pass is the list of goals and challenges because ultimately what you as a marketer need, when you create a buyer, persona is you need something to go to.

 

What you need to understand for your buyer personas at the bare minimum

Max Cohen (17:31):

That is going to be your north star of what is the next piece of content you create. And at a bare minimum, you need to at least understand the goals and challenges. Cause again, that's what people are searching for online. You can then go ahead and then cross reference that against things like the buyer's journey and things like that. You can work on how you're messaging that and your tone and how you're speaking to people. As you start to flesh out some of that other stuff. That's really important that Devin was talking about when it comes to a buyer persona. But for me, my thing was always just listen, don't overcomplicate it. The bare minimum that you need is the inspiration of what to actually write about and what these people are searching for. So my shtick has always been, just go to that. But again, most of the people that I've been talking to had trouble getting over that very simple hurdle at the beginning. So that's kind of why my narrative has always been around the oversimplification. These are all great examples of like how you can take all this stuff to the next level. That's what people are listening to. This probably wanna know too. Let's keep digging let's level.

George B. Thomas (18:32):

They wanna, they wanna take it to the next level. They wanna take it

Devyn Bellamy (18:35):

On the ideal customer. At that point. That's a whole nother episode because that is the first step. When we're talking about ABM and ABM is a monster in and of itself, it changes how you do sales. It changes how you do content. It changes basically everything within your organization when it comes to targeting, selling and servicing. We'll, we'll cross that bridge. When we get to it. One of the things that you talked about earlier, George, and which is really made me happy with the way you teach buyer personas is, is you got into list segmentation early and teaching list segmentation. Because one of the things like we, we keep talking about the different people you're talking to. One of the things that's important is not just about if you're making like blog content or something for your website, social media, that's different when you're tailoring different messages to meet different people.

But when you are having basically captive eyeballs in the way of emails, you need to be a bit more, I guess you could say deliberate in your targeting and messaging when it comes to your personas. If I'm sending an email out to the Acme company, the CEO doesn't care about the same stuff that the CMO cares about. They don't care about the same things as middle management cares about. And none of them care about the same things. And the janitor cares about if you're going to be speaking to these people and you have an opportunity to have their attention, however brief, the opportunity is you need to put forth maximum effort to make the maximum impact.

George B. Thomas (20:15):

There we go. See, he's just dropping bombs. He's dropping bombs today on the mic. I'm just saying, by the way, speaking of dropping bombs, I ran over to our plethora of show, note ideas, just to double check. Did we at the beginning think about account based marketing, ABM. It wasn't on the list. It's officially on the list. It will be an episode in the future where we unpack everything that Devin's mind just went. It's a monster. And we're gonna unpack that on an episode, coming back to personas, let's maybe dive into the conversation of positive personas and negative personas because I know what I think, but I'm super curious where the two of you, your brains go. When I actually kind of bring up this positive or negative persona scenario,

 

Why you also need negative buyer personas

Devyn Bellamy (21:03):

I'm a hot take right now. There are the reason why the, the persona field in your form is gold is because it's not just a way to identify the people you want to talk to. It's an excellent way to identify people. You don't want to talk to. I specifically use the other field, not just for persona research, but also to filter out sales people who are just on my site, spamming me. I will go through and do a monthly purge of all the people who are just dropping canned messages in my messaging field. They're not robots, but they might as well be because all they're doing is control C control V control C control V I'm I'm completely over it.

Max Cohen (21:44):

I I'll stop it. I apologize. I'll stop doing that to you, Devin <laugh>=

Devyn Bellamy (21:49):

Pro tip. If you are having problems with spam on your form and captures, aren't doing it for you. That's another way is to find ways for people to basically self eliminate. Another example that I had with a company of use work with we had, they had this killer content, but as we dove deeper into it, we realized that a majority of the people who were downloading the content were students and they weren't even domestic. They were international and it's like, fantastic. But you're clogging up by CRM. We were able to go through and start eliminating. And we even at one point just started doing domain level eliminations of people because we knew that they were essentially just students. I think, I think it was Taiwan. We got a lot of traction there to sum it all up. Just like there's people you want to talk to and you need to know who those people are and how to talk to them. There's also a lot of people who you don't want to talk to who could just be doing competitive research. They could be trying to sell you something. They could be unqualified, bad fit customers. They could even, I don't know, be detractors. Who knows?

Max Cohen (23:01):

I think the only thing that like I'd add to that is if you're just getting started with this, I would say focused on the people that you actually want to attract first versus, you know, taking any time away from getting your content machine off the ground. But also I think this is something to think about. If you haven't already been thinking about negative buyer personas, and you're starting to find that your sales people are wasting a lot of time with bad fit, customers might be something you wanna start to kind of implement. So marketing can weed that out the beginning, maybe point them into different direction, cuz maybe they're not a good fit now or just in general, they're not gonna be a good fit for your business. But yeah, I mean, that could be like one very easy way to ensure that those folks aren't even going through the marketing process, you're letting 'em off easy at the beginning. And then like, you're making sure you're not setting those to your sales people. If it's just never gonna be a good fit, judging on like how you're setting your personas up and, and who these people actually are

Devyn Bellamy (23:48):

Real quick. I just want to, to tail on to the end of that thought it reminded me how a lot of people have their forms set up, stop sending every lead to your sales team.

Max Cohen (23:57):

Stop. Oh yes.

Devyn Bellamy (23:58):

Stop sending it. So anytime someone fills out a form, it goes to your salesperson. Not everyone who raises their hand is a qualified lead clicking submit does not make them a sales qualified lead. Doesn't even make them a marketing qualified lead. It makes them a hand raiser. And at that point, and you can even use automation to whittle down that list, but don't have as much as your sales team wants you to funnel all leads directly to them. There needs to be a filter in place, even if it's just using workflows and automation. Because what you're going to do is you're going to train your sales team to have bad habits, your sales team's gonna engage in cherry picking. And all they're gonna do is look for the hot leads instead of working the possible SQLs.

Max Cohen (24:45):

Yeah. And at, at that point that's not even working together. Like you're not really working with your sales team if you're just sending them everything. You're basically just saying these are people who filled forms out on our website. There's no work that's actually being done to build any trust or get those people actually ready to talk to sales. You're not setting your sales team up for success if you're just giving them everything. And while they'll say we want every lead, they'll also say in the same breath at the end of the month, why are you setting us all these trash? Yes. So just think about that for a second before you do it, <laugh> it doesn't make sense. And also like, let's be honest, you sick a salesperson on someone after they download a fricking e-book about something they're gonna be like, oh yeah, aggressive much. And they're not gonna want anything to do with you. So chill out.

 

Negative personas may not be right for you now, but they might be later

George B. Thomas (25:30):

Yeah. Somebody needs to go over to our notes and add another episode of layers of leads and things to do or not to do. And there's a whole conversation about dating and marriage and a whole bunch of stuff we could get into on that. But I wanna circle this background again, pulling us out of a pit of another conversation, bring us back to buyer personas. And honestly, even to the micro of negative personas, because I wanna kind of put the pieces of the puzzle out there for a second, just so everybody knows. And again, we can do a different conversation, go a lot deeper, but I actually treat personas. It's three layers. It's positive, it's negative. And it's other, those are the three layers that I make sure that I put in place. When I use the persona field. I am making sure that I do a couple things.

One I'm always talking about all of them in a positive way. So even if you're a negative persona, I talk about you in a positive way. And I also change my persona field from persona to how would you best describe yourself? And all of the answers start with I'm a mm-hmm, <affirmative>, I'm a this thing, because if you think psychologically, how do you answer? Who are you? Well, I'm a, so that's just a psychological trick. Now what I wanna do is I wanna paint a little picture of how this works because the negative persona might be somebody, somebody that you know, that you can't help now, but you might be able to help in the future. Let me give you an example, a little bit of story time here for you. I was once helping a company and they were a pest control company and they knew without doubt that they could not help somebody who lived in an apartment complex because if somebody in a apartment complex wanted to take care of the problem, but their neighbor to the left right bottom and above did not take care of the problem.

What happens? The problem does persist. Who are they gonna get yelled at the company who didn't do the job, but the company did do the job. So they made apartment Annie and apartment Adam, a negative persona. Now here's the thing. When you went to the form to fill out and you selected that persona, it just simply said, I'm a apartment dweller or live in an apartment complex, that's it? Yeah, that's me positive manner. Now what happened afterwards was magical because they selected that they knew sales and marketing. Shouldn't be bothered with them at that moment, but it sent out an email and it sent out an email that said something like, unfortunately we don't service apartment buildings. However, we've done some research of X, Y, Z city in X, Y, Z state. And here are three companies that will actually help you. By the way, if you're curious, when we would be able to service you check out our, by the way, this is a pro tip, ladies and gentlemen, check out our who we're a good fit for Paige. And it had a link to it. They would literally go the page. And so when Adam from 23 and Susie from 27, a actually meet, get married and get a house. And they've got a reptile problem. As far as like snakes and whatever they know they're fit, they got

Max Cohen (28:21):

Wanted to the bathroom,

George B. Thomas (28:22):

Right? They're a good fit though, because they've been educated. Now, two things magically happened because of this little property set up in a proper way is that one you saved sales and marketing time. So they can actually work on qualified leads, which again, we'll talk about that in another episode and you made somebody who you can't generate revenue of fan because you did the research and educated them so that in the future, they can be a customer.

Max Cohen (28:51):

There there's a, some physics here. I want to kind of hit on, on why this little bit's so important. When you think about someone filling out some information on a form, especially when you're pretty new to them. And you haven't really proven yourself as a trustworthy, reputable holder of their information because giving away your information on the internet today is still kind of scary. You gotta remember that you can't ask for too much on a form nor nor should you, if you don't need the information, don't ask it. And again, if it's like some early awareness stage content that maybe you're putting behind a form or something like that, you don't need to collect someone's phone number. Because if you're collecting someone's phone number that early, you're only doing it for a salesperson to call them, it's gonna help you zero. When it comes to actually helping you make a decision on what kind of content might be helpful or valuable or educational for this person.

When you ask that simple question of what best describes you, that's a pretty like general generic piece of information that someone's gonna be a lot more willing. I would say to give away, besides like, instead of like their phone number or the company that they work at or all this stuff that you don't need until a sales rep actually needs it to have a conversation with them. And what's beautiful about that is that it gives you some pretty good general Intel on who this person is or how they self-identify. And from there, you can make pretty simple, educated speculation about what type of content might be useful for them, because you can say, oh, you're just an apartment owner and not a home owner. I could make some reasonable assumptions around what your goals and challenges are. Whereas if I just had your phone number, what's that telling me, oh, this person has a phone. Let's make content for people with, oh

George B. Thomas (30:35):

Yeah. Let's, let's do

Max Cohen (30:35):

That anyway. Little rant.

Devyn Bellamy (30:37):

Yeah. He he definitely hit it right on the head. The thing is, is that forms are a form of currency exchange and the currency is information. If you are filling out a form, you're expecting something to be worth it on the other side of that form. And the more information you're asking, the more you're expecting from the other side of that form, if I'm downloading an ebook and you have 10 fields on your form, no, not at all. If you look at HubSpot slide in forms, I think you can't even add more than a certain number of questions. Anyway, same thing with the calendar invites, because at that point for every new line that you have on a form, you are lowering your conversion rates and so risk and reward. Yep, exactly. You need to be intentional with the information that you're asking, understanding that the value of whatever's on the other side of that form may not be worth what you're asking them to do.

George B. Thomas (31:38):

Oh, I can't wait till the episode where we talk about conversion rate optimization forms. I can't wait because that's gonna be the day of all days, don't even get me started on this whole idea of conversion for sales versus collecting for conversation. I'm just gonna throw that out there real quick. We'll get to it someday when we get to that episode, but where do you wanna head next? As far as this conversation around buyer persona, there's so many directions we could go in. We could go in the fact of automation, we could go in the fact of resources. We could go, where do we wanna head next to help the hub hero podcast listeners?

 

Don't just talk to the right people, talk to them how they want to be spoken to

Max Cohen (32:15):

And maybe this has been kind of implied since we've talked a little bit about buyer personas as a concept to help you create content and, and make sure you're speaking to the right people and speaking to them in a way that they wanna be spoken to. But I think there's also this utility of this persona's field and HubSpot and putting it on forms and things like that. I think if you're trying to figure out is your content strategy having a positive impact. I think a couple data points you can look at is, Hey, are, are we getting more traffic from organic search? Cool. I mean, that's kind of telling us that we're creating content that people are actually looking for. So the content strategy is starting to work a little bit, but then that second layer you get when you start actually using that persona field and a spot, or even like start asking other questions on forms that can kind of help you confirm that you're attracting the right people that also tells you another layer.

If yeah, not only are people coming to the website, but you're attracting the intended audience that you created it for because people are self-identifying as these options that you're giving them. The only other bit that I'll insert in there. And I think this is really important for buyer personas and just why I think there's still like an argument to like gate content these days, you shouldn't just be gating content to, again, fire leads over to your sales team. Like that's not doing anything. What you wanna be doing is you wanna be using it as an opportunity to learn more about people and small increments so that all of your actions after, in terms of whatever you wanna call it, the automation journey you take 'em on, or the content you continue to provide to them, or the experiences you serve up on their website or whatever, right.

Or even just so you can get to know like who you're selling to better think of when you're collecting information or getting it behind forms. What can you do as a marketer kind learn how to better market to them after not just get them to a sales person as quick as possible, especially if they're not ready for that, you know, it just doesn't make sense. Use your forms to kinda learn. And again, develop that buyer persona over time. And also your buyer personas will change over time. As you learn more about your customers too, just cuz you're right. 'em At the beginning, it's not set in stone. So always know that what these look like right now, they may look completely different in a year and that's okay. You don't have to nail it to perfection at the beginning.

Devyn Bellamy (34:25):

One of the things I, like you said is that automation journey, there is so much you can do with automation when it comes to buyer personas, there's your database maintenance, your basically good housekeeping with your data using personas. I'll tell you about some of the different ways that I've seen it used first, you have personas. And if you serve multiple verticals, you can channel by vertical at what industry they're in, as well as their persona. And then you can start sending them targeting emails that are relevant to them. Something that can be hyper niche as they go further and further down your content. So you can keep yourself top of mind while offering value. That is very specific to them. We talked about before that everyone nerds out about something. This is giving you an opportunity to nerd out on an almost individual level. And you can do that with automation after looking through your database and saying, Hey, we have a lot of CEOs that are working in this specific service sector.

We should start getting content that they care about and curating content that they care about and pay someone 10 cents a word who is an excellent researcher, get it done. The other things that you can do with your segmentation, cuz at the end of the day, it's all about segmentation with automation is that you can send specif leads that basically hit a few key points. Like this person identifies that they are a CEO and combine that with the fact that they visited our pricing page. And so you have a decision maker who wants to know how much our stuff is. Yeah. I'll go ahead and send that over to the sales team instead of just keeping them in the marketing washing machine until their lead score goes up. Speaking of lead scoring, you can add buyer personas, lead scoring, plus 10, if they're CEO plus 20, if they're a CEO plus 30, if they're a janitor, you know, however you want to get down, it's the automation aspect of it. Using buyer personas will allow you to segment your database as the data comes in.

George B. Thomas (36:33):

Okay. Okay. I gotta jump on that real quick. A couple things. And if they're apartment Adam or apartment Annie AKA negative persona negative 500 points right on that lead score. Right? If they're anyway there's oh, let's talk about lead scoring. We need episode on lead scoring, but we can't do buyer personas. So max, you talked about, you talked about a little bit of information over time. Don't get me started on cud fields. That's one in HubSpot forms, but because of what Devin said and because of what you said, there is something that I have taught for years called second smart questions. And what it's all based on is the fact of you have buyer personas in place and it literally says, how would you best describe yourself? I know if they say CMO or CEO or sales or whatever it is, there is one, if not two, maybe even three questions that I would ask differently of if it was sales or if it was a CEO or of.

So now you have the power and HubSpot where you can ask that second smart question based on now, you know who the heck they are. You take your research of the problems that that type of person usually faces. And you address the questions that you want to ask around that. And all of a sudden, you not only have email automation based on persona, but you have email automation based on persona and the answers to the second smart questions that you ask them, AKA, by the way, Google dependent fields in HubSpot to pull this off. Now we're talking ninja segmentation, ninja communication. We're talking, doing the things that actually make you better than your competitors.

Devyn Bellamy (38:09):

This is the kind of stuff they teach in breakout sessions and inbound people. You're getting so much sauce right now. You're, you're so much sauce.

 

Let's dig into those researcher personas

Max Cohen (38:17):

There is a lot of smart stuff you can do when you kind of combine those data points of what general archetype character are you persona plus other bits of information, especially some of the stuff that HubSpot can collect. So like if we were targeting a more researcher persona and for anyone who doesn't know, like when we say a research persona, we mean someone who's actively looking and, and they have goals and challenges that you create content for, but ultimately they would never be the decision makers of purchasing your actual product. But they're the people doing the research because they have a goal or challenge that you're potentially gonna solve for. They still gotta get their CEO or someone else to kind of sign off on something. When you start identifying these people, it's like, Hey, this is the lower level person at a company that we might sell to.

Max Cohen (39:03):

Obviously they don't have the decision-making power, but we know that they've seen X amount of pages on our website. And we know that they've looked at our pricing page. So we know in their head, they're aware that we sell something and they've been active enough with our content that they probably kind of have a good idea of what we do. They know that we sell something. Maybe that's a really good opportunity to build a workflow. And I think Devin, you were kind of saying this earlier, you may have said it under a different scenario, but you could say, for example, Hey, we'll create some decision stage content built for these internal champions that don't have buying power, but are doing a lot of the research that we can send them that says, Hey, if you're interested in what we have to sell, here's a kit that helps you pitch it to your higher ups that explain the value of it before you even have to talk to a sales rep. So if you wanna get them interested, but you don't wanna pull them into crazy sales conversations, here's a tool you can use. Just one of an infinite amount of examples you can use when you start really thinking smart about how you use that general identifier of buyer, persona that property among all the other data that like you can kind of collect.

George B. Thomas (40:04):

So here's the thing we have been on here for almost over 40 minutes giving you value. I'm gonna say this. I have a list of resources. If you haven't gone to theh hub heroes.com and signed up for the show notes in the show notes, we're gonna put a list of resources, building, reading, all sorts of things around personas. But I wanna end with the last few precious moments that we have to talk about buyer personas until we dip into them again, in some other episode, when we're not supposed to, I wanna go ahead and leave the listeners with some action items of what they should be doing. Devin max, when you think about HubSpot inbound customer experience conversions, all of this stuff that we've talked about, that buyer personas actually entangle themselves with what are the action items that people should be taking when they are done listening to the outro of this podcast.

 

Bottom line, if you don't have buyer personas, get 'em

Devyn Bellamy (41:01):

If you don't have buyer personas, get them. If you're gonna do a world of good for everyone in your organization, the best way to start is to ask your customers, talk to your customers, have questions, there's entire trainings on how to do this, that you can talk to your sales people. And as you're drilling down on these, one of my favorite questions as salespeople is what's the number one question that you get all the time or the top five questions or the top five pieces of information that you find yourself constantly giving and then build around that. That's how you identify what the different personas challenges are. If you don't have 'em do it. And if you do have 'em, then go back research. 'em Look at the people who have fallen through the cracks. People who have selected other, and then just go do research on it.

Look at who's filling your stuff out. See, look for missed opportunities, look for trends, and then take that information and then do something new and the last piece. And, and it's gonna sound crazy. Don't be afraid to nuke your personas. Don't be afraid to blow them up and start over again. You might have completely misidentified your areas of opportunity going into this. And that's okay. Like Mac said, marketing is, is experimentation. That's that's all it is. Sometimes experiments fail. If that's the case, if you're able to say, well, this person I had 'em in this one before, but based on this criti criteria, they should actually be in this one. If you're using HubSpot, there are actually ways to create workflows to, to do that where it's basically logic branches, where you can just go down. If they have this criteria go there and if they have this criteria go here, it's possible. But the thing is don't let the amount of time it's going to take you to accomplish your goal, stop you from achieving your goal. Don't let that fear of work. Get in the way of success.

George B. Thomas (43:01):

Max, I'm gonna jump in here real quick because Devin, you said something vitally important. Don't be afraid to blow up your personas. And as somebody who might be listening to this, my brain went into who they are and what they might think. And they're like, well, how do I know if I should nuke my personas, ladies and gentlemen, if you go to your persona tool and it says CEO CMO, or any other type of random job title, that is a job title, there is a field for that. That is not a persona and it is time to hit the bomb. Just so you know, max, go ahead. Action items.

Max Cohen (43:31):

My version of that is I'll talk to the people who may think they have buyer personas already. What I'll say is if you're trying to figure out, Hey, should we hit the nuclear button and kind of maybe rethink these, ask yourself, the question is a buyer persona or the way that you look at it, are your buyer personas, acting as a tool to help you be a better marketer right now?

Devyn Bellamy (43:52):

And Ben a sales person.

Max Cohen (43:53):

Yep. And a better salesperson. Absolutely. And if they're not, that's a pretty good indicator that you should probably revisit them. And again, for me, the biggest piece of advice I always gave people, whether they're just starting out or they want a simplified way of approaching it is go get a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle, right goals on your left challenges on the right and just go to town. You know, what your product solves for. So you should at least know some of the problems that people have. Maybe even some of the problems that they might have being in the role that they are. You don't have to pay some marketing agency to go out and do a bunch of expensive research. You could do a lot of this based on educated speculation. Don't overthink it. But also you need to think about the goals and challenges that people have in those roles that they play, that don't directly have to do with what you sell because their goals and challenges are much broader than that. And we talked about this in other episodes, you don't have to pigeonhole your content into just being about what you sell. Keep an open mind, write about stuff, create content about stuff, shoot, video, audio, whatever it is about stuff that's important to these people that you're trying to attract. It doesn't have to directly tie back to what you sell.

George B. Thomas (45:07):

Here's my action item. First of all, do everything that you've heard in this episode. If you haven't done the things that you've heard in this episode, if you're sitting here and you're like check, check, check, and you're like, I am the master of my universe. I get to sit back on my laurels and relax here would be my action item for you. One, you need to sit back and look around and say, have I taken the time to go past that and build out the persona story? Two is that persona story visible by everybody in my marketing sales service, operations rev ops, HR CEO, Csuite I'll name all the humans all day long, except we don't have time on this podcast. Is it visual? And do they know what actions their department and they as a human need to take or interact with said persona story that they're now able to visualize.

🔥 YOUR HUBHEROES HOSTS

YOUR LEAGUE OF HEROES LEADERS

DEVYN BELLAMY

Char_Devyn_AlphaDevyn Bellamy works at HubSpot. He works in the partner enablement department.

He helps HubSpot partners and HubSpot solutions partners grow better with HubSpot.

Before that Devyn was in the partner program himself, and he's done Hubspot onboardings, Inbound strategy, and built out who knows how many HubSpot, CMS websites.

A fun fact about Devyn Bellamy is that he used to teach Kung Fu.

 

MAX COHEN

Char_Max_AlphaMax Cohen is currently a Senior Solutions Engineer at HubSpot. Max has been working at HubSpot for around six and a half-ish years.

While working at HubSpot Max has done customer onboarding, learning, and development as a product trainer, and now he's on the HubSpot sales team.

Max loves having awesome conversations with customers and reps about HubSpot and all its possibilities to enable company growth.

Max also creates a lot of content around inbound, marketing, sales, HubSpot, and other nerdy topics on TikTok.

A fun fact about Max Cohen is that outside of HubSpot and inbound and beyond being a dad of two wonderful daughters he has played and coached competitive paintball since he was 15 years old. 

 

GEORGE B. THOMAS

Char_George_AlphaGeorge B. Thomas is the HubSpot Helper and owner at George B. Thomas, LLC and has been doing inbound and HubSpot since 2012.

He's been training, doing onboarding, and implementing HubSpot, for over 10 years. George's office, mic, and on any given day, his clothing is orange. George is also a certified HubSpot trainer, Onboarding specialist, and student of business strategies.

To say that George loves HubSpot and the people that use HubSpot is probably a massive understatement.

A fun fact about George B. Thomas is that he loves peanut butter and pickle sandwiches.

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