Buyer Personas – What They Are and Why They’re Important

Buyer Personas are the foundation to any effective marketing plan. When developed and used correctly, they can save your business time and money as you create and execute your marketing plans.

Think of it this way…

Imagine these two scenarios:

Scenario 1

You walk into a hardware store and you’re greeted by the clerk. Without you saying a word they grab your hand, take you to the electrical section, tell you there’s a 50% off sale on all switches, and walk away. You stand there, wondering how to find your way to plumbing, because you REALLY need to fix a leaky faucet before your basement ends up under 2 feet of water.

Scenario 2

You walk into a hardware store. The clerk greets you by name. They take a moment to ask you what project you’re working on (or, if you were in the day before, they ask you how your project is coming along). They ask you if you’ve had any experience fixing a broken faucet before – you say “not really”. As the clerk is walking you back to the plumbing section they let you know that the store’s website has a variety of “How To” videos for leaky faucets. Plus, there’s currently a sale on Kohler faucets (which come with a 30-year warranty) and he would highly recommend Kohler because they rarely leak and that’s what he has in his house… You get the picture.

Which store is likely to be most successful in the long run?

The store that knows its customer.

How do they know their customers?

They watch.

They ask.

They listen.

They respond.

So how can you know your customers when everyone is online? And how can you take what you learn and use it to create an online experience that will not only delight your visitors, but sell your products and services as well?

BUYER PERSONAS

Creating Buyer Personas for your business is critical to success.

A Buyer Persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer.

Personas are built using “real language”, not “marketing-speak” – as in “they’re busy around lunchtime” versus “daily scheduling conflicts manifest at their peak around the hour of noon in various time zones in which the target market resides.”

They’re also built to help you, the marketer/business owner, visualize a real person, not just a bunch of marketing-speak on a page. They’re created to be consulted often, edited as needed, shared with your teams and used across all aspects of your marketing plan.

Building Buyer Personas

Getting started is pretty easy.

First step – think about your business in the most general sense.

For example, if you’re selling baby clothes, your basic persona has a baby (or babies), or knows someone that does.

From there think further.

Are your baby clothes made from organic cotton? (Your Persona is environmentally conscious.)

Are they usually priced 30% higher than cloths found in Target? (Your Buyer Persona has a high disposable income.)

If this is the case your Buyer Persona probably has a high disposable income, cares about the environment and may or may not live in a two-income household. You may even find that they’re first-time mothers, and speaking of mothers, your Persona is likely the mom (as the purchaser) than the dad.

You continue this line of questioning until you create a picture (or many pictures) of your customers.

HubSpot offers a great FREE Guide to creating Buyer Personas – you can check it out here.

Once you have your Buyer Personas created (you will usually end up with more than one), you can start building your Content Strategy. As you build out your Buyer Personas it will become evident that each Persona has specific needs, and may respond in different ways to the same marketing message.

For example, here’s a Buyer Persona for a Daycare Center. As you can see, “natural language” is used to describe “Stressed-Out Sally” – which makes this document more meaningful to everyone you share it with – whether they have a marketing degree or not.

Buyer Persona - Sample Grid

Avoid These Common Buyer Persona Mistakes

When you’re creating your Buyer Personas, make sure you avoid these mistakes:

Don’t create your Personas in a bubble – talk to customers, customer service, sales, other employees as you develop your Personas.

Don’t forget to create a “Negative Persona” – your Negative Persona is the customer or client that you DON’T want to attract. For example, there may be some clients that are just too expensive (in effort and money) to acquire for a small business with no sales team. So in that case, your Negative Persona would be companies that have long sales-cycles, require a lot of paperwork, and are likely to have a lot of ongoing demands.

Make sure you share your completed Personas with everyone – your Buyer Personas should be shared with everyone that is involved with acquiring or communicating with your clients or customers. This includes sales, customer service, marketing and any external agencies as necessary. The more buy-in you get, the more likely you will consistently attract and convert your ideal customers or clients.

Reference your Personas often – they should serve as the foundation for all of your marketing and sales decisions.