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Creating useful Buyer Personas

6 MINUTES TO READ
Creating useful Buyer Personas
Summary: There is a WSI saying – “if you’re not special to someone, you’re special to no-one”

What are Buyer Personas?

Brands are all about making emotional connections with people, which means having a point of view that people can align themselves with (or not). Customers reference this point of view as they decide whether your business is the right place to by a product or service like yours from.

Your Buyer Personas help you to articulate your point of view from the perspective of each of your target customers – who they are, why they come to you, and how they engage with you. This helps you to focus your site content and marketing communications in the right direction : towards your customers.

Buyer personas therefore form an important part of your Digital Strategy.

 

When you get Buyer Personas wrong

I love this example from Everyone Hates Marketers :

When Buyer Personas are not useful

If you look at demographics and likes and dislikes in the traditional way, you could easily end up with Prince Charles and the Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Osborne, in the same customer segment.

Would you present the same products to these 2 people? Would you talk to them in the same way?

The problem is that focusing on Demographics doesn’t help you to understand the reasons why your customer groups buy your products or services.

 

How many Buyer personas should you have?

The answer varies, depending on the complexity of your business, but most small businesses start with one or two. Large, multi category businesses may have as many as 20.

The important thing is, less is more – the fewer personas you have, the more laser focused your marketing communications will be.

If you are struggling to edit, start with the customer profile(s) who care most about your competitive advantage so that your communications become focused on what makes you special.

You may wish to create “Negative Personas” – groups of people you specifically wish to exclude from your communications – this helps your teams avoid getting into dialogue with a defined group of people who are unlikely to ever buy from you.

 

How do you use Buyer Personas?

Defined personas opens up the capability to personalize or target your marketing to different audience segments.

As a simple example, if you are a Department Store, you can talk to your Womenswear only shoppers differently to your Gift Buyers, or even your multi-category Buyers. This makes you think before sending an email launching a fabulous offer on a new lipstick to someone who has only ever shown interest in your Home Furnishings Department.

When combined with lifecycle stage (where someone is on your sales funnel), buyer personas help you to map out highly targeted content for your communications.

Customer segmentation diagram

 

What’s in a great Buyer Persona?

“Begin by choosing people based on what they dream of, believe, and want, not based on what they look like. In other words, use psychographics, instead of demographics”  Seth Godin, from his book, This is Marketing

This boils down to 3 psychographic elements :

What they want to know : The triggers that made them search for a business like yours. What information are they looking for? “Why this, Why now?”

Frustrations and pain points : What problems are they trying to solve? What dreams are they trying to fulfil? What’s stopping them from moving forward?

Goals and needs : What outcomes are they looking for? What functional, social or emotional gains do they want to make?

 

How to create a Buyer Persona

The most common mistake is documenting a desired target customer, without basing the findings on thorough audience research :

“If you don’t know what triggers people to buy, then you’re probably just guessing way too much stuff”  Katheryn Bougoin

Step 1 : Uncover the story

Conduct surveys, either online or in person – Ask your existing customers about their triggers, pains and goals. Ask them which digital platforms they use for what, which communications channels they like and which businesses they admire – it’s amazing how much information they are willing to share.

If possible, ask the same questions to people who fit your target profile who don’t buy from you. This is a great way of understanding the gap(s) that you need to fill in your communications strategy to attract them.

Dig deep. You want to understand the thought process from the point when they felt that it was important or urgent to solve a problem or achieve a goal, not from when they decided to buy from you.

Consider :

  • What solution did they have in place before deciding it was time for a change?
  • Which competitors did they check you against?
  • What are the most common objections to your product or service?
  • Why did they choose you?
  • Who or what influenced their decision?
  • Which channels they used along the way

Remember that humans make decisions for emotional as well as practical reasons – pay particular attention to the decisions made with the heart.

Step 2 : Use your data

Your web analytics is a great place to start. You can track basic demographics, where visitors come from, what they are searching for, the questions they are asking, which pages they spend time on, which devices they use and which social media platforms they were on before coming to your site.

Step 3 : Paint the picture

There are thousands of Buyer Persona and Empathy Map templates out there on the internet – choose one that you can personalise to fit your brand and tone of voice, but do make sure the one you choose covers the concept of Triggers, Pains and Goals psychographics.

Add relevant facts from your data analysis.

Give each persona a name and a short bio to make them relatable for your team.

Ingredients of a modern Buyer Persona

 

Summary

Creating Buyer Personas is the gateway to creating segmented and effectively targeted customer communications. If you need any help creating yours, WSI has many years of experience helping clients to articulate their customers’ wants and needs, so just contact us for a chat.

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