Buyer Persona definition
A buyer persona is a fictional person created by the data collected from the real world of buyers. It allows the business owners to have an idea of what their prospective clients are looking for and what are they thinking as they are weighing their options when considering to get a solution for the problem that your company is an expert at solving.
Buyer personas should be the starting point of your digital strategy, as they lay out the profiles of your target audiences, allowing you to refine and personalize your approach, thus helping you drive more marketing sales.
A buyer persona should be:
- Describing your ideal customer/s
- Comprehensive and detailed: include demographics (age, sex, primary location, marital status, education, occupation, income, etc.), as well as psychographics, lifestyle and behavioral criteria (where they are active, what online platforms they are active on, what their days look like, what brands they prefer, their values, personality, their buying patterns, etc.)
- Insightful: they should be guiding your marketing efforts, depending on the stage of the buyer’s journey that they depict.
Why is a Buyer Persona important?
A buyer’s persona is much more than a profile dwelling in a single-dimension of customers you want to influence. It is more than their journey map and it is created to reveal more complex information about the prospective buyers’ decisions such as their particular moods, their standards and concerns, which will ultimately play a crucial role in the decision-making process, influencing their choice. Will they end up closing a deal with you or will they turn to your competitor for resolving their issue? Their psychographics will help you clear things up.
A buyer’s persona is not a simple description of people who might be interested in your products. Also, a single buyer persona will hardly suffice, since your customer base is diverse and made out of multiple buyer profiles. You may offer a product or service that addresses people from more age groups or socio-economic backgrounds. Their stories differ and so do their purchase behavior.
As marketing strategies become more and more tailored to the individual, that cookie-cutter approach will no longer benefit you. You need to address each one of your customer archetypes individually and adapt your marketing strategy to speak directly to them. Competitive advantage comes from correctly recognizing your prospects’ and buyers’ needs, fears and challenges and knowing how to make your products, services and communication answer them specifically.
The main goal of buyer personas, however, is to help us internalize the ideal customer we want to attract, according to Hubspot. This means relating to our customers as real humans, not merely figures in our databases. But, most importantly, they keep us focused on the right direction: everything we do must start from and with the people who will buy from us.
What Knowledge you need to have
You need good marketing skills to develop a well-structured and relevant buyer persona. Marketing people are naturally oriented towards the target-market and its subsequent segments. So, first of all, if you own a business and you market it yourself, you might want to take some time and dive deeper into the science of knowing your prospects and customers.
To get an idea of what really matters, we recommend “Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping” by Paco Underhill, Curtis Haugtvedt’s “Handbook of Consumer Psychology”, Michael R. Solomon’s “Consumer Behavior” and, of course, “This Is Marketing”, by the legendary Seth Godin.
These should guide your approach and structure your efforts more efficiently. So don’t worry if you didn’t major in marketing or psychology. Everyone with a keen eye for people’s wants and needs can gain an understanding of their behavior and build buyer personas or empathy maps.
Yet you will also need some analytical skills, as most of the data is already available within the platforms you’re using (CRM software, Analytics from Google, Facebook and other digital marketing platforms, Audience Insights from your social platforms and so on).
How to create Buyer Personas for your business
- Understand the market you operate in and the segments you serve
It may seem like a no-brainer but a lot of insights actually come from the industry and the market you’re operating in. You need to think of all the possible segments you can address and to perpetually explore new possibilities.
- Search for buyer persona templates and buyer persona examples
If you have never done this before, it’s useful to search for templates and fill them in as you go. They will give you the general direction, while also letting you know what are the most important things you need to know about your customers. And if you want to know how you should shape the results, buyer persona examples are great things to look at. There are multiple styles, formats and questions to answer. Make sure that you choose the right ones according to your industry and your business.
- Carry out market research
As soon as you know exactly what categories of people are buying from you, ask them about themselves. Make a list of relevant questions you want to ask- anything you might think of that is relevant to your business and the buyer personas you wish to develop. Qualitative research (in-depth interviews with some of your customers or online focus groups) can help you highlight relevant points that you may have overlooked or that you may have not even considered. Use social media listening tools and customer surveys (both on-site and external) to get to know them better. These offer you the possibility to tap into more complex issues, like personal factors and motivations that cannot be obtained from other sources. Or, at least, not at this level.
- Take a look at your website’s analytics
As stated earlier, there’s valuable data there. You can observe purchase patterns, frequency of buying, average spend and much more. You can also discover where they come from (referral traffic- from Google, Facebook, Instagram), the keywords they used to get to you, how much they spent on your website, what pages they visited and so on.
- Goals, pains and gains
You must know your customers the same way you know your business- in an intimate, meaningful and purposeful way. Explore their journeys, discover how, when and why they use your product or service, what they get out of it, why they choose you instead of your competitors, what they like about what you’re offering and what they wish you did better. You need to constantly adjust your efforts based on what you learn from your customers. It’s hard work, we’re not going to lie, but there’s also a silver lining: as long as you satisfy your customers, they will keep coming back to you and even recommend you to their friends and family.
- Structure the findings
After you’ve gathered all the data you need, it’s time to create the buyer personas. They should look like a personal profile- assign a face and a name to each persona and group the findings under distinct categories, to make them easily scannable and ready to interpret. Just like resumes, the easier you navigate through them, the better you can put them to use.
What should be included in a customer persona
The customer personas are the results of your research, as well as a simple and intuitive way to group your findings. Typically, these are the elements you should incorporate into the profiles you create when you’re done with surveying and analysis:
- Demographics (age, gender, nationality, family, occupation, income, etc.)
- Goals, challenges and motivations (professional, personal, in relation to your business- what they expect from you, what you can do to impact and help them in a meaningful way)
- Values and fears (main personal values, frequent objections during sales processes)
- Behavior (how, when and why they buy certain products, how much they use them, how they integrate them within their day-to-day routines)
- Activities, hobbies and interests
Remember: the more detailed the profiles, the more opportunities you have to engage with them in a memorable, personalized way. This mix of demographics and psychographics will let you expand your marketing efforts in the right way. Being able to create useful buyer persona helps you get tremendous insight for your company. It will help you in determining which areas need more focus so you can put more effort and time into developing products and align them with the needs of your customers.
How to use the Buyer Personas created
There are a number of ways you can use these buyer personas. And no, this use is not limited to advertising.
- Product development
Buyer personas are great if you are looking for ways to improve your product or offer. They will offer you actionable feedback that you can implement when the time is right.
- Better allocation of ad revenue
Your research will show you exactly what kind of people are responsive to which kinds of ads. This way, you can make the most out of your advertising budget and even improve your targeting efforts.
- Influencer marketing campaigns
Maybe you’ve been thinking about starting an influencer marketing campaign to raise brand awareness and grow your customer base by reaching other potentially interested buyers. While this is a great idea, you must also align these efforts with the personality and preferences of your ideal buyers. Choosing the wrong influencer can be extremely costly and the buyer personas you created can help you figure out who is the best option for you and your brand.
- Help your sales and customer support teams know who they are addressing
Buyer personas can also fuel your sales and support teams’ efforts. By understanding what kind of prospects they have to deal with, what their struggles are and what questions need answering, they will be so much more effective.
- Improve and refine your content marketing and messaging strategies
Cold audiences? Warm audiences? Hot audiences? These personas will help you better understand how to talk to different prospects and customers, based on their lifecycle, the stage of the buyer’s journey they’re at and the psychographic elements attached. The right message delivered at the right time to the right person can mean a lot to your business.
As you can see, there’s a lot you can do with a buyer persona. It might even be the missing piece of your marketing puzzle. Buyer personas can help you make sense of all the data that you gathered through market research, social media, website analytics, customer surveys and so on. If you are looking for ways to improve your sales process or to align your content marketing efforts with the profile and interests of your customers, buyer personas are the right place to start. By focusing on your customer profiles, you can be sure that your digital marketing strategies will reach the kind of people that you want to attract to your business.
A lot of people act on intuition but high-performing businesses have everything mapped out and written down. From KPIs, business and marketing plans to empathy mapping and customer personas, everything needs to be clear, concise and quantifiable. So why lose precious time trying to figure out what your prospects and customers want when you can start and analyze their behavior right away?