Not every consumer is the same. We all have different needs and aspirations, so it’s vital that businesses selling to us can prove that they meet those requirements. Establishing buyer personas allows you to segment your audience and create stronger marketing campaigns.
A buyer persona is a research-based representation of the ideal buyer for a company, detailing the generic behavioural characteristics of the person who needs that particular service or product. Developing a buyer persona therefore helps to reveal a buyer’s decision criteria, and what you need to do to successfully sell to them.
All in the detail
A buying persona can be created using a combination of market research and real data about your existing customer base. In order to properly understand what marketing techniques will appeal most to potential customers, the buyer persona should include as much detail as possible, such as demographics, behaviour patterns and motivations.
The more detailed a buyer persona you can develop, the less time and money will be wasted on ineffective marketing activities. Instead, you can more effectively focus your time and tailor product development to maximise customer appeal.
Who is your buyer?
The first step in developing a buyer persona is to identify how many distinct types of target customers your business has. The second step involves identifying the questions to ask each individual buyer persona in order to understand more about them, which should unearth:
- Basic background details about your ideal customer
- Key job responsibilities
- Where/how the customer does their purchasing research
- Life goals
- Challenges they face
- Content preference
- Real-life quotes from customers
- What objections they might raise during the sales process
- How they influence the purchasing decision
Once you’ve identified the questions you want answers to, there are a variety of ways to gather the information. These should not be mutually exclusive, but instead be used in combination, and include:
- Direct market research – such as focus groups or interviews with individuals
- Distributing questionnaires
- Data from your website and social media analytics
- Customer-facing employees – who understand what your current customers’ motivations are
According to Adele Revella of the Buyer Persona Institute there are four common mistakes made when developing buyer personas:
- Making information up about buyers
- Getting side-tracked by irrelevant trivia that doesn’t deliver value
- Developing too many buyer personas
- Conducting scripted interviews with buyers that fail to reveal new insights
Once you have gathered all the relevant information about your buyer personas, you need to develop it into a meaningful profile. For this, you can either use a widely available standard template, or create your own bespoke version. Publically available sources for a standard template include:
Accurate buyer personas deliver effective support in the quest for lead generation and customer retention, as you can create more compelling content and offers that are tailored to them. Of course, poorly developed buyer personas will not generate valuable results – getting it right therefore requires a significant investment in time and money, but will reap valuable rewards in the long term.