You can’t please all of the people, all of the time, but with buyer personas you can vastly improve your chances.
What is a Buyer Persona?
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer, based on market research and real data about your existing customers.
Buyer personas provide tremendous structure and insight for your company. They will help you determine where to focus your time, guide product development, and allow for alignment across the organisation. As a result, you will be able to attract the most valuable visitors, leads, and customers to your business.
Why create a buyer persona?
Using known information about your customers, such as demographics, behaviour patterns, motivations, and goals, you can create an assumed character – your “ideal customer” – that you can target your marketing efforts towards. It’s likely that you’ll have more than one persona – in fact, having multiple personas can help you create targeted marketing to really engage your customers.
By asking a few simple questions, you’ll start to create a picture of your ideal customer:
1. Demographic information
What sort of house do they live in, is it in a town, city or the countryside? Are they married, do they have children? How do they spend their leisure time, where do they shop, go on holiday? What papers do they read, what car do they drive?
2. What do you know about their job
What’s their job title and level of seniority? Who do they report to, and who reports to them? Do they manage a team? Are they a decision maker or an influencer? How much do they earn? What’s their level of education? Do they have professional or vocational qualifications?
3. Can you describe a typical day?
Do they have lots of meetings? Do they have much paperwork to get through? Are deadlines tight and inflexible? Are they office based? Do people come to them or do they go to people? Who do they talk to on a daily basis? What do they talk about?
4. What are their pain points?
What challenges do they have to face? What problems do they need to solve? What are the key objectives of their job role? What do they wish they could do better? What do they need help with?
5. What are their values and goals
What defines success for them? Are they responsible for saving costs, increasing turnover, improving efficiencies? What’s the next step on their career ladder, and how do they get there?
6. Where do they go for information sources (“watering holes”)
Where do they go to for information about their job? What publications, blogs or newsletters do they read or subscribe to? What associations or groups do they belong to? How do they prefer to receive information about your product or service? Do they engage with social networks such as LinkedIn or Twitter?
7. What are they looking for when buying your products?
What features do they expect your product to have? Do their expectations align with your sales process? Do they expect a consultative approach or a hard sell? How much time do they have to spend with you discussing your product? Do they expect a face to face meeting or would they prefer to buy over the phone, internet or by email? Do they want to find out about your product from their own internet research, from literature you send direct to them, or summarised in an email following a phone call from you?
8. What are their objections to your product or service?
Why should they buy from you and not a competitor? What are the real benefits to buying your product? Are there cheaper alternatives? How does your service stack up against their expectations?
Things to bear in mind:
Create as many personas as you need. There could be more than one influencer or decision maker in your prospect customer’s organisation, and each may need a different approach, have different needs, pain points and expectations. Multiple personas will allow you to engage each contact in a way that addresses their own issues and helps you create content that works for them.
Don’t just think about positive personas. Use buyer personas to identify customers you don’t want to do business with – for example, customers that would cost too much to acquire and maintain, or ones that have too much expertise in a given field.
Set a blueprint for your communications. Buyer personas can help define things like how you position your product (will it save them money or will it make them more productive?), define language styles (formal or informal?), method of delivery (social media, printed collateral, etc.), and the focus of the message (are they buying based on price, features or benefits?).