There’s a big void out there when it comes to Buyer Personas. Most companies that we talk to are familiar with the broad concept, but have not taken the time to build creative buyer personas.
What is it with Buyer Personas that makes them scary? They are an exercise in imagination, but ideally, backed by research. So even though the sales force believes they know who they are marketing too, they can’t supply all the details that marketing needs to create engaging content. Sales and marketing aren’t ready to define Harry and Sally, represent them with images, and record details about their personal lives and social sharing habits.
But here’s why they should.
All of these companies want to sell their products and services. If you flip it around for just a moment, let’s imagine that a company wants to “buy” a product or service for a customer. Can they do a good job if they only know a customer’s typical demographics of age, gender, education, company and title? Can you buy someone a skincare product with this targeting approach? Can you buy them a car? Can you buy them groceries? Or sports equipment? Or even a laptop?
I think the answer is NO! You don’t know who they are. A job title is a poor indication of their wants, needs, and desires.
That’s what Creative Buyer Personas are all about. Each persona represents a group of users who act a certain way with regard to purchasing decisions, technology use, lifestyle choices, and other behaviors, attitudes, and motivations. If you can fill in the blanks, you can tap the riches that a credible Buyer Persona offers. Here’s how to get started:
Identify Buyer Behaviors
Start by trying to picture your prospect in a “daily life” situation. Ask yourself how this prospect would likely research and look up information before making a purchase. You can use a real person as a starting point, if it helps.
- What products or services do they spend time online researching?
- How do they plan on using those products?
- What do they do online (i.e. are they playing games, updating Twitter, reading blogs?)
- Do they like reading about current events?
- Do they watch videos or listen to podcasts?
- What’s important to them and what’s driving the change?
- What’s impeding or speeding their need to change?
- How do they go about change?
- What do they need to know to embrace change?
- Who do they turn to for advice or information?
- What’s the value they visualize once they make a decision?
- Who do they have to sell change to in order to get it?
- What could cause the need for this change to lose priority?
Add Meaty Interviews
To add meat to the bones of your Personas, conduct a series of interviews of customers, asking questions such as:
- Role: What is their title? What skills does it require? Who do they report to? Does anyone report to them?
- Company: What industry are they in? How large is their company?
- Goals: What are their responsibilities? What goals are they working towards? How are they working towards them?
- Pain Points: What are their challenges, their main pain points? What is holding them back from accomplishing their goals?
- Social Affinity: Where do they go to consume information? What specific channels do they frequent? Do they subscribe to a particular Blog? Club? Organization?
- Personal: Gender? Age? Education? Children? Location?
- Buying Habits: What is their preferred method of interaction with sellers? What factors influence their purchasing decisions?
Bring Your Creative Buyer Personas to Life
Armed with fresh information, you can now begin to construct one or several Creative Buyer Personas. Give them a name. Give them a face. Describe them in detail to bring them to life.
Start by arranging all of your findings into categories such as:
- A personal profile
- Their needs & pain points
- Their research behavior
- How you can reach them
- How they like to buy
- Their goals & objectives
- Your brand’s goals for engagement
Finally, write up your persona example. Think of it as a biography or resume of the person most likely to be your best customer. Give him/her a name and then fill in the story including their buying habits and their relationship to your business.
Once you’re comfortable with Harry, the product manager, and Sally, the CIO, post their profiles where everyone can see them. Sometimes, you’ll get additional comments from the sales force, the IT managers, and even the CEO. Incorporate this information to solidify your Personas and to build consensus.
While it takes a lot of work to build Personas, you should revisit your creations regularly to make necessary edits and updates. After all, basing your content and marketing efforts off of stale Personas is almost as unproductive as not having personas at all.
Let Creative Buyer Personas Change Your Marketing Approach
Create Content That Addresses Pain Points
Based on the identified wants, needs, pain points, and goals of a given Persona, you can now begin to craft content that provides specific solutions. Craft a blog post or ebook that speaks to these pain points, and watch your conversion rates climb.
Speak Their Language
Understanding the type of language that your Personas use makes it easier to construct appropriate messaging. You may need to get busy rewriting your home page, landing pages, and blog posts, to ensure that you are building trust and communicating value.
Optimize for Them
Let your Personas also guide your search strategy. How do your Personas search for information? If your Personas commonly search using long-tail keywords, make sure your website is optimized for those terms and phrases.
Understand Their Technology Habits
Don’t forget to factor in the role of technology in the day-to-day lives of your Personas. Are they glued to their smartphones? Are they likely to research at home using a tablet? If you know their technology preferences, you can respond accordingly, perhaps by optimizing your website for mobile.
Use your Persona’s personal information to influence how and when you publish blog posts, how much time to spend on social media, or what day of the week to launch your next email marketing campaign.
It’s time to get away from thinking about prospects and customers based on simple demographics that don’t tell even half the story. Instead, you should be building Creative Buyer Personas. It is relatively easy and always fun. The payoff comes when you use these Personas to change your marketing efforts.
Also published on Medium.