A buyer persona represents the future customer you are trying to attract. It helps you focus your marketing efforts and align them with what you know about your customers. But buyer personas are often misunderstood, misused or even neglected. We’ll take a look at how you can go from concept to creation in five steps — as well as the benefits they bring for all areas of your business.
Why you should create buyer personas for your business
A buyer persona is your imaginary customer. In your mind, you create a picture of this perfect customer and then use it to guide the creation of your marketing materials. It’s a great way to understand where they’re coming from and what their needs are.
The best way to get a liking for your brand is to listen to what people will say about it– Lori Greiner
A buyer persona isn’t real. You can’t tell a real persona from a fictional persona or vice versa. Idea someone is in the dark about your brand until you targeted them with and introduced a buyer persona.
Creating a buyer persona isn’t difficult since it’s mostly based on facts. Just understand your customers, their wants and needs, and base your persona on that. The main benefit is you’ll be able to tune your brand’s messaging with the personas’ characteristics.
Your customers may have a vast array of traits and characteristics they’ll need to describe you, such as:
However, there’s one essential trait that most consumers love to be described across multiple industries and occupations. And that’s reliability.
Need to describe your brand
When there’s a need to describe your brand, you better take note of the two major categories of needs your customers have. Not surprisingly, those could be:
Once you select your persona, you’ll need to choose a few colours, different sizes and positions. Some people prefer the colour blue for their avatar while some prefer shades of brown. The choice of hairstyles can make a world of difference, as well. How do you have a character with dark hair and blue eyes?
Try creating more variety in your avatars by including people of various levels of beauty, skin tones and ethnicities. Make sure you make them slightly different, but hopefully, they have some semblance of similarity.
Depending on your brand, it may be necessary to create several buyer personas. Each persona can have distinct traits and illustrations.
#1 Define your target audience
The first step in creating your content marketing strategy is understanding your audience.
- Who are they?
- What do they like or hate?
- Can you match their interests & hobbies?
- Do you know their fears and dreams?
Knowing your audience allows you to better understand what topics will resonate with them. It also helps you to understand where to find them online. As a content marketer, information is power. It also allows you to leverage that data for better results and then engage with them on a level that mirrors your audience.
Products that respond to customer needs are the best products — message your audience in the simplest and most effective way possible. Those who understand their clear, and concise, message are likely to respond. Here are some ways to do so.
Speak to your customers. Identify which topics resonate amongst them. Then write content that speaks directly to the problems these topics solve. Help customers solve their own problems with your products or services. See what other companies are doing. Pull content ideas from the best in the industry.
Key takeaway: Understand your customers across an entire journey — industry, niche, demographic or journey.
Instead of looking for big, sweeping ideas, start by pinching off an idea that resonates with your customer. Use the pulse of your customers to build your content strategy. We’re good at recognizing patterns, too — patterns that mimic the patterns of the people we know. Patterns are vital to our success. Don’t skimp on them!
Have you thought about a checklist
Consider these three steps a checklist for — well, everything. Remember the goal of all of this is to create content that will resonate with your audience. Remember:
Without those broader ideas to bounce off of, the messaging you put together won’t be as powerful. Keep it simple, don’t build unnecessarily complex messaging.
• Call-to-Action (CTA): create an opportunity for the searcher to take action — what’s in it for them, and how do they win?
• Product Benefits: list out the benefits of your offer as succinctly and clearly as possible.
#2 Create a persona
Websites aren’t just about a pretty design, they’re about telling a story. When you create a website, you’re creating an online home for your company or personal brand. When you’re creating that home, it’s important to start with a persona. Buyer personas are descriptions of people who might be interested in your products or services. They provide context for what you’re selling, and can help you create unique perspectives and value propositions.
Buyer personas are a widely underutilized part of modern marketing. According to The Journal of Marketing, less than one in seven businesses use it. And those that do, only use it as a last-minute brainstorming tool to get creative ideas for product placement.
Think of your customer persona as being like a map that lets you mark off areas of focus for your marketing. Before you start to think about developing a solid persona, though, you must first understand what one is designed to do.
The most common mistake that most B2B buyers make is focusing on just one persona. Instead, they try to describe all of the aspects of their buyer, as shown here:
Here’s the reality check you’re going to need
As you can tell, this visualization only opens you up to conflicting viewpoints and information. And as you’ll see below, while it does catch some key characteristics, it’s missing the big picture.
Understanding buyer personas is all about synthesizing your experiences together. It helps you to come to a single mapping of all the information that could potentially bring someone to you, and then take action accordingly.
Buyer personas (or buyer personas in general) describe people who you know — and perhaps even like a bit more than you realize. Last year, our readers talked about how persona-building was taking over the digital landscape.
They’re a way to capture an abbreviated version of your customers more fully.
#3 Use your persona in marketing and sales activities
- Are you using your persona in marketing and sales activities, then you’re on the right track?
- May be you are selling to consumers, you can use your persona in advertising, branding, packaging, and content marketing.
- If you’re selling to other businesses, you can use your persona in sales pitches, presentations, and proposals.
Too often, folks mistake a buyer persona for what I like to call an “alternative facts person.” It sounds weird, strange, and a bit surreal, yet the truth is: your project isn’t complete until you have a completed persona.
What is a buyer persona exactly? According to Stephanie Hall, an associate professor at Grand View University of Oxford, you likely have one already. You have an “ideal customer” persona, which is someone who you know really well and who you think would be interested in your product or service, maybe just a little. There may also be other, less well-defined buyer personas that you might have created to describe or stereotype someone you’ve met or are familiar with.
Creating a buyer persona is as simple as creating a few representative personas from your previous experiences, your research, or your customers’ past behaviour. You can then alternate using one persona at a time to offer your customers a variety of content and marketing opportunities.
Benefits of creating a buyer persona
First, it helps you build and maintain relationships with your customers. If your pitches, emails, social media platforms, or website presentation are brief and focussed, then chances are you’re not getting to the heart of the issue, which then leads to confusion and missed opportunities to engage. Having a focused mindset and a deep understanding will help you craft more inclusive and effective content.
Second, it helps you determine likely buyer frustrations. Profiling your customers and understanding the types of customers that have already been successful with your brand can help you see gameplay-based pain-points that are often overlooked when you’re applying for new purchase opportunities.
#4 Feed back into the process and review on a regular basis
You should go through these steps in order, but once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll know your strengths and weaknesses, and you’ll be able to put the steps together in a way that works for you.
Here they are:
Step 1: Define who your ideal buyer is. Most of us have a sense of who we are — whether we’re introverts, extroverts, creative types or whatever. But as marketers, we’re often so focused on getting people to click or buy that we forget about those who have neither. If you’re losing traction with people who are already on your mailing list, or they’re really into your product, consider them ideal buyers. Try to determine whether they’re analytical or emotional, foraging for information or trying to find a solution to a problem. Acknowledge their existence and find ways to connect with them on a human level. This can be challenging for specialized audiences, but most of us understand those types.
Step 2: Create a buyer persona. Starting with goals, traits and dreams helps you nail down your vision of who the person is. It also assists your creative process because you already have templates or visual prompts that you can use to put your personality into words.
Step 3: Design your ideal buyer’s print copy. For this step, I like to use the Medium platform. You get a limited number of actions per story, and each makes a specific impact.
#5 Personality questionnaire
With that done, create a personality questionnaire and ask a close friend who deals with (or has dealt with) that particular type of person to fill it out.
Study that person’s beliefs, emotions, values and patterns of behaviour. Then look at what you can do to meet those needs or challenges. You may have preconceived notions about what a positive experience looks like, so forget the test and let your creative juices flow.
Give things a try and pay attention to the ways they show up instead of focusing on how they appear.