So you have heard people throwing this term around as if everyone has one and everyone knows what one is.
You are right many do, in fact all businesses do, they may not understand their ‘Buyer Persona’ but they definitely have one. The problem lies with the knowledge we have lost in information. If I ask you right now, who your target audience or ideal customer is, I’m sure that you can give me a very logical reply. A reply that may be along the lines of: a small to medium sized company in xyz vertical that needs abc product/quality or service. With this answer you would definitely be off to a good start, but you need to turn this around and put this on its head.
Humans are irrational; we feel first and think second.
While your sales and strategic marketing plan will define how you are going to achieve this, your ‘Buyer Persona Profile’ will give you perspective on how to move past what your products and services are and communicate why it makes sense for them to work with you.
In other words, your buyer persona needs to understand how purchasing your product or service is going to transform their lives, how will they feel and how they can become part of your story. Resulting in great alignment amongst your Product, Marketing and Sales teams.
But, What is a Buyer Persona?
A Buyer Persona is a research based, life like outline of our ideal customer.
By ensuring that we really understand and meet our customers’ needs, we position ourselves better as a company. For this we need to ask ourselves how well we really know our customers’ challenges and interests, both on an economic and emotional level (on a 20:80 ratio).
In short, we should know them almost as well as we know ourselves: their background, personal and professional goals/challenges, age, where they went to school, hobbies, if they have kids and what their day to day looks like. With that information well used, we will dramatically improve our business results.
The Buyer Persona, is, therefore, the perfect description of the person who buys and will buy from us. In marketing, we often refer to them as “buyer personas”, “marketing personas”, “customer personas” or even “user personas” or “ideal customer profile (ICP)”.
Why do we need to define a buyer persona?
First, let’s take a walk together down internet road. I’m sure that you know it.
Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it’s the biggest shopping mall you have ever seen. There is nothing else quite like it. However, despite its size, you can move around with relative ease, visiting any part of it within a fraction of a second. The minute you are ready, you can ask for help and you are instantly shown every possible option available. Whether it’s a small boutique or a large department store all relevant options appear in front of you whilst the rest just magically disappear.
If you are anything like me, you will ask a friend for advice, or perhaps even an expert and in some cases you may opt for tips and tricks of a famous celebrity. They are all here with you on internet street, along with billions of other people all happy to chat about their experiences.
As everything is so easy, you’ll end up visiting many shops. Some for a second and third look before making your decision. And when you do, you don’t need to worry about how heavy your basket is or how your shopping will get home as all of that is handled for you and delivered to your front door.
That’s the reality of the internet today. One where are no longer restricted by availability or proximity.
Now let me ask you a few questions:
- Have you updated your thinking about customer behaviour to take into consideration this explosion of choice? Or are you trying to account for 21st Century behaviour with 20th Century models?
- Could you be responding better to your customers?
- Do you rise to the occasion when a prospective customer visits your website?
- What’s the relationship like between your Marketing and Sales department?
- Could you be attracting more leads?
If your not happy with any of your answers, the rest of the article is for you. If you are 100% satisfied then you probably have a solid definition of your ideal customer profile!
This may sound like a no brainer but, having a solid buyer persona definition will help us ensure that all business activities related to customer acquisition and support are tailored to our target persona’s needs. This is not as easy as it sounds. There are platforms out there that can support you in this process, as you know, I personally use forMarketer.
As I mentioned earlier we are irrational creatures that make purchasing decisions based on the least catastrophic outcome.
There is no point in telling consumers what you do rather why you do it. Let’s take Simon Sinek’s famous golden circle by way of example:
A great example is Apple:
Their ‘why’: ‘We believe in challenging the status quo and doing things differently’
Their ‘how’: ‘Our products are beautifully designed and easy to use.’
Their ‘what’: ‘We make computers.’
Understanding this, we are looking to identify our persona’s single purpose, cause or belief that will act as their driving force and inspiration. This will then allow us to understand how we are to present ourselves to them and gain their trust. Reference this, address their pains and needs. Doing it any other way puts us at odds with our customers and the way they make decisions.
A great definition of who our buyer persona is will also lead to a great definition of who our buyer persona is not and why we do not want to waste time targeting them (this may be due to financial reasons, culture or even how much they know on a given subject matter).
What do we use a Buyer Persona for?
At the most basic level, ICPs allow us to personalize our marketing efforts and tailor them to each target audience profile.
We can then take this a step further and map out each persona’s life cycle or journey, allowing us to be more effective in our content marketing strategies and achieve improved conversion rates.
The very exercise of asking ourselves in-depth questions about our ICPs will be an enlightening experience, helping you see things that you hadn’t noticed before.
This in itself can be useful, not only for marketing strategy but in defining brand image, product development, aligning sales efforts as well as company culture and customer support.
How do we use our Buyer Persona in our content marketing strategy?
As you will be creating your content strategy and directing all sales messages towards your buyer persona, there are a few things to bear in mind when getting creative:
- Brand voice
- Content formats they prefer and where it should be posted
- Search intent and keywords employed
- The phase of the customer journey being targeted
- Type and format of CTA’s and Lead Generation that would call their attention
How do we create a Buyer Persona?
We will be gathering information from a variety of sources: interviews, behaviour trends, questionnaire, talking to our sales team, etc. The information we will be looking out for needs to be broken down into four main blocks: who, what, why and how.
Who is our buyer persona?
- First of all, what is your buyer persona called? Make it fun and memorable like ‘Executive Ed’.
- Then fill in their background info. This will include things like their job, career path, industry, company size, skill set, marital status, kids, education, etc.
- It is also important to understand cultural influences, how they measure success, what their day is like, where they live, how much they earn, how old they are and their mentality. Is there an built-in bias in the way they make decisions? For example, an engineer would be exceptionally analytical.
- How would you describe their demeanour? What media do they consume? What websites do they visit? Where do they spend their days? Do they have any relevant hobbies? Do they attend conferences or events? What trend are occurring that will affect their lives? Where do they get their information from? How do they communicate? What do they like to read?
What are our Buyer Persona’s goals?
Now that we understand ‘who’ they are it is essential to pick up on what their goals are and what you can do as a business to help them overcome their challenges and achieve their goals.
- What is your ideal customer’s personal/professional goal? What do they secretly desire most? How do they prioritize these? What challenges do they face achieving them? What questions do they ask when they are trying to solve their challenges? How can you help?
- What do they value in their personal and professional life? What is important to them when considering an offer like yours? What objections may they respond with? What drives them?
- What can we do to help our persona overcome their challenges? What can we do to help them achieve their goals?
Why would our Buyer Persons not buy from us?
This is where our data comes in handy. Find real quotes and common objections from interviews, surveys and conversations with real potential customers.
- Identify real challenges and goals straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Brand listening is great for this.
- What’s the main dominant emotion this market feels?
- Identify common objections that specify why your persona wouldn’t buy from you. What are they worried about? What are their fears? Who are they angry at and what are they angry about?
How should we talk to our Buyer Persona?
Once we have worked on understanding who our customer profile is and what they look like we need to think about how we are going to address them.
- Do they have their own language or jargon they use?
- What is our marketing message? How are we going to describe our solution in a way that resonates with them?
- How are we going to sell our solution to our persona? What is our elevator pitch?
What’s the one thing that your ideal customer craves above everything else? Understanding this is key to market success. Unless you get inside your buyer persona’s mind, all your business efforts will be wasted.
Everything ultimately comes down to trust. Working on your ideal customer profile paves the way for a successful marketing strategy and a killer business proposal. Knowing who your Buyer Persona is, going to them, giving them what they need, helping them overcome their problems and challenges will allow you to not only attract and retain more customers but enable you to adapt your product roadmap as well as key aspects of sales and support to ensure greater overall success and ROI.
- What does my customer journey on internet street look like?
- How does our Buyer persona decide what they want to buy and who they want to buy it from?
- Is our buyer persona using any cognitive bias/shortcuts to make their buying decision and if so which ones?