“Revolve your world around the customer and more customers will revolve around you.” – Heather Williams
The key to every effective marketing plan? Know thy customer. But how do you do this in the era of savvy customers who know what data privacy is all about? “Build buyer personas”, they say. Read on to know everything there is to them.
What’s a Buyer Persona?
According to HubSpot, a buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. And we couldn’t agree more.
Buyer personas help you understand what kind of content makes your customer tick. After all, 81% of customers want brands to know them before they actually make the purchase.
When you bring this asset into your inbound strategy, the benefits are significant. Personas:
- provide a better understanding of buyers
- save time and resources
- help drive sales and boost ROI
- enhance customer experience
- generate better quality leads
Buyer personas are not new, they have been around for a while, yet some fall prey to common myths revolving around the concept. The good news is that we’re here to demystify them. So, let’s get started.
Myth 1: Buyer Persona = Ideal Customer Profile
Both these terms are used interchangeably, however, the purposes of both of them are different. An ideal customer profile is a description of the type of company you should pitch your service or solution to and buyer personas are the people at those companies who are part of the purchasing decision, which are drilled down by demographics like job title, tenure, etc.
Myth 2: Your Buyer Persona Should be a CEO
It might seem like the correct way to creating a buyer persona since the CEO is often the final decision maker but they won’t necessarily be the first ones to reach out to for pitching your product/service. Instead, reaching out to other key decision-makers and influencers will get the ball rolling.
Myth 3: The More the Merrier
Although there’s no correct number of buyer personas, creating a persona for every possible factor would lead to vague and overlapping definitions between them.
Myth 4: Once created = All Set!
Don’t just set it and forget it. Buyer personas are ever-evolving. Over time, businesses and customers change which is why it’s imperative to revisit and update buyer personas frequently.
7 Ways to Create Buyer Personas
If you’ve never created buyer personas before or are looking to enhance your existing personas, here’s a checklist that you can use:
1. Discover the right fit: Find the companies or industries that would actually need and use your products or services. Understand their:
- pain points,
- buying motivation, and
- buying concerns
Once you have this information, figure out how your business can fill the gaps in their processes with what you have to offer and how you can add value to their business.
You can discover more about creating buyer personas through similar, existing customers or new ones through surveys, interviews, etc. Conduct observational research while conducting interviews to discover insights around your ideal personas.
2. Incorporate negative personas: With negative personas, your target vision gets amplified. The scenarios where negative personas can occur are:
- high customer acquisition cost
- a probable industry enthusiast and not a customer
- your current services not aligning with their goals
- budget constraints
When weak leads are out of your way, you can spend more time and resources on nurturing quality leads that fit better with your services.
3. Look out for real buyers, not ideal buyers: Don’t lose sight of who you want to provide solutions to and don’t base personas on how you want the customer to be. Leverage your analytics tools to gain insight into the priorities and interests of your real buyers. Define how your product/service can make your prospects’ jobs easier or add value to their business.
4. Go beyond generic demographics: Don’t just fixate on basic demographics (age, income, gender, etc) but focus on psychographics and discover more on motivations and problems that drive buyers to make purchase decisions. Nike did something similar when they created 3 personas – dedicated sneakerheads, weekend runners, and style shoppers after analyzing customer data on the NikePlus app.
5. Bear the sample size in mind: The more customers you survey, the easier it is to determine what a typical buyer would look like. The sample should contain both happy and unsatisfied customers so that you get better insights into your strengths and challenges. If yours is a small business with a limited number of customers, you can conduct in-depth interviews with them to determine what’s working for you and what you could improve upon.
6. Too many or too few personas: More is better doesn’t fit in this case. Creating too many personas leads to excessive segmentation which makes targeting difficult. Similarly, if you have one or two personas, you may be missing out on opportunities. The trick is to keep your analytics glasses on and find balance.
7. Humanize your buyer personas: Keep the conversation human to human and not just transactional. Ask questions and observe their emotions, expressions, and the tone they use. This gives you more insights into the common challenges that prospects face while contemplating their buying decisions.
Create or revamp your personas right with this checklist, add human interactions and automation technologies to the mix, and you’ be on your way to delivering memorable customer experiences.
Are you ready to take your persona efforts to the next level? Talk to us!