Day 4: Understand Your People – Really!

How to truly understand your buyers using buyer personas (blog)
SYS Day 4: How to truly understand your buyers – and find more of them!

We’re still on ideal buyers today, translators, but I promise a change of topic tomorrow!

The reason our buyers warrant so much time and energy is because if you’re clear on who they are, I believe your social media planning will be a walk in the park.

My experience

Once I’d found my first translation client, I found it very easy to find more. I just found out all I could about them and their business (in as non-stalkerish a way as possible), and used that as a springboard to finding more clients just like them. It was like it had a strange snowball effect.

Over time, I was able to gradually change my client base in an intentional way by playing around with the variables of my “prototype client”. Sometimes it took longer than I wanted, but in the end, it almost always worked.

In hindsight, I realise that what I was actually doing was creating and working from buyer personas.

The great news is, buyer personas are an actual marketing Thing that anyone can use to great effect!

Personas for Translation Buyers

Personas are a very useful sales and marketing tool that can help you truly understand your ideal buyer and be clear on exactly where and how to use social to speak to them.

The way they work is this:

  1. You draw from fact, fiction, or a little bit of both, to come up with a detailed description of a well-rounded character – in this instance, your ideal buyer. You can give this character a name, photo or whatever you need to make it as real to you as you possibly can.
  2. Each time you tweet, blog or address your target audience in any way, you imagine addressing this one individual and let that guide all subsequent decisions.
  3. Voilà. You’ve got yourself a full book of clients.

The result of targeting this one specific persona is you’re more likely to craft a message that resonates with the very many real people who have some of the same characteristics as your persona.

It’s also a lot easier to sit down and write when you have one specific person in mind, rather than a vague amorphous crowd of maybe clients.

So how do I create a persona?

There are myriad templates online that you could use as a basis for creating your persona. I’ll include links to some below that might be particularly useful for translators.

Bear in mind that in an ideal world, you’d create a separate persona to represent each of the roles involved in your buying process. This is a situation often faced by translators, which can make it particularly tricky to define our ideal buyers in the first place.

But none of us live in an ideal world, so I recommend starting with baby steps and creating just one to begin.

For example, if you know that typically, a marketing assistant usually conducts the initial search for a translator and then presents a shortlist to their marketing manager for final approval, then that’s two personas right there.

These two individuals enter the buying process at different stages and have different needs and concerns, so you need to engage with them in different ways to address that.

(Hint: this is where you may find that social media is a better way to reach out to some personas more than others. That’s fine too – at least you know you’re not wasting your time).

Finally, here are a few ideas on how you can use social media to gather information from your existing, favourite and/or ideal clients to flesh out your personas:

  • Use the free tool Followerwonk to analyse the Twitter accounts of your ideal buyers. Look at the results to draw conclusions, such as the following:
    • Lots of @replies? They’re chatty, at least in social terms.
    • RTs?  They’re listeners. Who are they listening to?
    • Do many people share their content? They have an engaged community of followers, if so. Who are their followers?
    • When are they most frequently online?

… And so on. Add these deets into your buyer persona.

  • Facebook Custom Audiences has a tool called a Lookalike Audiences. Basically, it generates a list of people who are similar to a list of people that you define. There are lots of ways you could use this, some creepy, some less so. (Remember, this is all based on publicly available information.) Here’s a non-creepy example:
    • Start with a list of some of your existing or ideal clients. Ask Facebook to generate a list of similar people for you. Check out these people’s publicly available Facebook profiles, and use the information you glean as inspiration when you’re fleshing out your Buyer Personas.
  • Use Rapportive, the email tool I described yesterday, to find out more about your existing buyers and again, use this as inspiration for your Buyer Personas.

So, Buyer Personas – worth a shot, no?

Further Reading

  • How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for Your Business, by Pamela Vaughn at Hubspot Blogs. A solid article with a free template – more information than most translators will ever need but still some nuggets, so pull out a couple of things that interest you then move on. Don’t get bogged down! 🙂
  • 4 Questions Answered About Buyer Personas, by Barbra Bago at the Content Marketing Institute. Nice list of characteristics here.
  • by Hubspot. A handy dandy tool that will take you through some questions and spit out a persona for you at the end 🙂


A Social Media Challenge!

Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to do one thing each day in October that will have an impact on your social presence in the longer term.

Each weekday in October, I’m going to suggest a task to work on for whatever pocket of time you can carve out that day. You can choose to follow my suggestion, adjust it to suit your circumstances, or come up with an alternative – whatever makes most sense for you. Or just dip in and out as it suits.

Follow along on Twitter, Facebook, or here on the blog. Let me know how you’re getting on by using the hashtag #socialtranslator (so I can find you!). If you find it helpful, please give me a thumbs up, a like or a share – that’s how I’ll know you’re finding it useful, and it’ll help other translators join in too.