Marketing professionals who understand their customer base can build effective strategies to persuade buyers to choose you rather than a competitor, or to take action where they might otherwise take none. Buyer personas are representations of real buyers who make decisions about your service or product. Building insightful buyer personas – ones that highlight motivations and pain points – is the key to leveraging marketing success.
What Is A Buyer Persona?
Your leads, prospects and customers share a number of common demographics by virtue of your target market; but there are subtle differences that differentiate one buyer type from another within that group. Buyer personas identify those differences. Developed properly, buyer personas should pinpoint, very specifically, the sub-categories of people that exist within your target market, so you can sell to them.
What Does A Buyer Persona Look Like?
Suppose you describe your target market like this: “businesses situated within Southern Texas with a turnover in excess of $100,000 per annum, who are looking to launch a new website and content management campaign to aid expansion efforts.”
Businesses are familiar with the concept of a target market. Precisely who, out of all the people and organizations on earth, is likely to buy your goods or services, is one of the first things you identify long before you launch your business. But target markets, like the example above, are typically vague. Yes, you can find the statistics to figure out how many of these target customers exist and where they are located, but ask your marketing team to campaign to them, and they’ll likely draw a blank. Either that or they’ll come up with a campaign so generalized it has little measurable effect.
That’s where buyer personas come in. BPs drill down into your target market. They figure out who the exact buyer is for your various goods or services and outline their personalities, their needs and their pain points. Using real data and educated speculation, you form a fictional representation of your ideal customer so you can tailor your sales efforts to suit their needs.
So, from the above target market, you might extrapolate a buyer persona that looks something like this:
Sally: Female co-owner of family-run solar installation company, Sally wants to hire a content management and marketing solutions company to increase her exposure beyond the immediately local market and help take her small, family-owned business to the next level. Aged between 40 and 50 years old; married to David, solar panel installer and business partner. One son, now a senior in high school and about to leave for college. College educated; gave up career in medical transcription to launch business. Pain points: Sally works to the adage “if you want something done right, do it yourself” and has trouble with delegating. Passionately and personally involved with the business as it is her baby, she’s taking a big personal risk by outsourcing. Budget conscious…
…and so on. This isn’t a full buyer persona by any stretch of the imagination; ideally the picture would be extremely specific and give a complete profile of the typical buyer – but you get the idea.
Why Do Businesses Need to Use Buyer Personas?
Buyer personas allow you to implement highly targeted marketing campaigns, follow up leads and implement sales processes strategically. Put simply, you’re arming your team with the knowledge they need to overcome sales objections. When focusing on a particular BP, content marketing strategies can achieve greater success. They can also be used to segment email marketing lists to make email marketing campaigns more effective.
How Do I Develop My Own Buyer Persona?
BP analysis requires qualitative and quantitative data. Begin by researching your existing customer base, subscriber list, leads and prospects. By looking at the people that already interact with your business, you can start to understand who naturally fits with your product and their respective experiences of it. In some cases, you’ll need to conduct surveys and interviews with those outside your contact database who might align with your target market.
Once you have gathered enough information, you need to compile the data into one digestible template. Templates make it easy for your sales and marketing teams to share and understand the information. There’s no one-size-fits-all here – your template should take whatever form works for your business – but it should include the following essential information:
- Background: job title, role and responsibilities, educational background, what hobbies or interests they commonly share.
- Demographics: gender, age, household income and “urbanicity,” that is, does your BP live and work in a city, suburbia or rurally?
- Identifiers: does your BP have any buzz words that they use or relate to? What are their mannerisms (introvert/extrovert) and what are their goals?
- Challenges: what obstructs your BP’s success? How can you help them overcome these obstructions?
- Objections: what objections will this BP likely raise during the sales process? Do you have real quotes, taken from interviews, to support that view?
- Marketing Message: with all of this information in mind, how can you describe your solution using language your BP understands, that aligns your solution to their goals, and effectively overcomes their challenges?
Once you’ve profiled your buyer persona, it’s important you give him or her a name and whenever possible a stock photograph, then everyone can see who they’re dealing with, and envision the same person. Personifying your BP prepares your entire organization to convey the same message in their sales efforts.
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