Buyer Persona - A beginner's guide: What is it & Why is it important to you?
Updated: May 15, 2019
Customer is the king but do you know your king really well? According to the recent research 80% companies primarily rely on basic customer profile information to structure the campaigns. Basically marketers use a combination of their perceptions & assumptions more than data to drive their campaigns which shouldn’t be the case. We live in a world where every person is subjected to around 600 ads per day & we consume media for an average of 8 hours per day. So, how do you ensure that your content or ad stands out from the rest of the crowd? Well, the answer is building exclusive content but we all know that as much as we would like to churn out exclusive content for every person in our target audience, it is almost impossible to do that. So, how do we ensure that we offer relevant content to our target audience without burning out? We do the next best thing, we create buyer persona.
What is Buyer Persona?
Personas are semi-fictional personality with generalised characteristics of a real people. Personas help us humanise these semi-fictional personalities as they have generalised characteristics of real people. They can be defined on their traits, liking, demographics etc. So, although all the characteristics defined in your buyer persona which closely match to a living person however, it’s still not a living person.
For e.g.: Dev is an Accounts Executive who graduated just couple of months back with no prior work experience. He is 23 years old & is hoping to go to a B-school in 2 years. He is a national level basketball player & likes to coach teenagers in his free time.
Dev matches all the criteria of a living person but it is not a living person. We have created a persona but is he the profile of our ideal buyer? Maybe not.
A buyer/customer persona which is also referred to as marketing persona is a overall representation of your ideal customer or persona of your ideal buyer. So while, Dev is also a persona but he is not our ideal buyer persona.
For e.g.: Meet Maya. Maya graduated from an MBA college two years ago and is now 26 years old. She currently works in Lower Parel, Mumbai & lives in Bandra. She is currently the account manager of an agency & is hoping to reserve the position of account director in next 4 years. She is very ambitious & would like to open her own boutique agency in around 10 years. She earns around Rs. 5 million per annum & believes in spending in moderation. She likes do her research before investing in high ticket items. She considers herself as an extrovert & eats out at least thrice a week. She considers herself technologically savvy & invests a lot of time reading management & advertising books which she mostly buys online. She owns a car & a high end phone & laptop.
While creating a persona you would like to not only focus on the ideal characteristics but also on some negative characteristics which you do not want in your persona. Simply said, these are the people you would like to refrain from targeting. Do remember that negative persona is as important (if not more) as the buyer persona as it clearly defines the traits/ representations you wouldn’t want to target as it doesn’t make any business sense.
Why Do You Need Buyer Persona?
The utmost importance of buyer persona is that it clear defines & demarcates your target audience from the universe. This would help you customise your messaging for the specific set of audience which you know would work the best with them.
Your messaging can closely match the description of your buyer persona & this will give you a deeper understanding of what they look for, where they look for it & how can you help them.
How To Create A Buyer Persona?
Well, it might look difficult to group your target audience & then define them however, it’s not that daunting a task. Following are the most preferred ways to gather the data you need to create a buyer persona:
Data Mining: This is a good starting point as you are look for trends from the data which you already possess. You already have a fair idea of what kind of content is being consumed the most, similarities in the kind of profiles (designation/company size etc) who generally get converted, so try looking for similarities in your database the first.
Check with your account management & sales team: They are the ones who are constantly in touch with your clients & should be able to help you with valuable insights.
Interview your clients: This can be a great starting point as they have already purchased a product from your company & have engaged with it too. They will be able to give you the best insights. Do not be afraid to reach out to the bad customers. We know it’s tough however, you just do not want to go by only the hunky-dory stories of your customers. You would like to understand patterns from the unhappy customers as well. This will not only help you improve the product but also will help you communicate your proposition better.
Conduct Customer Surveys: If you do not have a direct access to them or if you do not have the luxury of time & resources to indulge in point 1, please make a short survey & circulate it across. Again, do not forget to include your unhappy clients in it. You can custom design your survey from the various tools which are available online like Survey Monkey, Google Forms or Typeform.
Prospect Surveys: Another way to gather information is conducting a good survey can help you understand what exactly your target group is looking for & would help you find patterns. You can either have a one question survey right on your webpage which asks the visitor about the kind of information he was looking for to sending in-depth surveys.
Market Research: If you do have the liberty of time or budget, you can conduct market research yourself or rely on some specialised agency to do so. You can conduct focus group studies & even send out specific questionnaires. Market Research will also come in handy if you are trying to venture into an unexplored territory.
Referrals: If you do find yourself in a country or a city where you do not have any existing customers but still would like to create a persona then start by asking for referrals from your existing customers. Do not hesitate to ask for referrals & you can approach your employees, customers, friends or any other people you like to do this. You can also do it yourself by getting yourself introduced through LinkedIn.
Competition Tracking: If you do not succeed in getting referrals or if you still want to walk an extra mile, you can consider looking at your competitor’s data. There are numerous tools like Google Alerts, What Runs Where, Alexa, Ahrefs, Majestic SEO, Spyfu etc that help you spy on your competitor.
Lead Forms: Try to build your forms which will ask specific questions that will help you build buyer persona. So, something like a designation, company size, no of direct reports can help you classify them better.
Social Media: Social Media is a great platform which can help you move a step closer to the buyer persona. Every social media platform comes with their in-built reporting tools. You can dig deeper by using other tools like FollowerWonk, Hootsuite, Sprout Social and Klout.
Online Tools: Although I highly recommend the marketers to invest in good tools to truly understand your customer but as a starter do use Google Analytics to get actionable insights. Information about demographics, age, visitor city/country & gender will help you understand your persona better.
Forums & offline events: Keep in mind that your buyers are eventually humans & there must be websites or videos that they are subscribed to & the forums wherein they like to pose questions or response to someone’s query. If you do get an access to their knowledge centre online & offline, you will have a better understanding of the language they speak or the jargons they use regularly. You will be able to craft communication better & it will have the same vocabulary.
How To Use Personas In Your Marketing Campaigns
Would you like to send out any lead looking for an enterprise version of your software, details about the student discount? Can you imagine what kind of negative impact it will have on your business? Well, that’s why personas are important!
Personas will not only help you develop the messaging which appeals to your specific target audience but it will also help you speak their language, which is very important.
Another factor that will play an important role here is the Lifecycle stage, which helps us segment our leads to a great extent on how far a particular lead is in the buyer’s journey.
A good buyer persona will help you create more compelling & engaging content. A buyer persona helps you define the format, tonality & the language better which will eventually lead to better messaging & overall compelling content.
As marketers we need to speak our consumers’ language & a buyer persona will help do just that. It will not only make your content more engaging, it will also help you get to the right people at right time with a right proposition.
Read more about the things you should keep in mind & questions you need to ask for developing a buyer persona.