When, Why and How to Develop a Buyer Persona for Your Company
You’ve tried so many marketing tools and strategies during your time as a business owner but nothing seems to be working. Even though you thought you were doing everything right, you’re not seeing much of an ROI from your marketing endeavors, you’re not gaining the number of leads that you thought you would, and you don’t know what to do next. It may be you don’t really know where to reach your buyer. This is where buyer persona development is critical.
There could be many reasons for why you’re having this problem, but the most common reason we see is that you’re not really sure who your ideal buyers are. But there is good news for you: there are several ways to fix this problem and start seeing a return on your marketing investments.
Here, we’ll explain why your methods aren’t working, then stress the importance of knowing your ideal buyer, and finally provide solutions and tips for acquiring this invaluable buyer knowledge.
Assuming vs. Knowing: A Messaging Issue
Maybe your company has a blog but you’re not gaining a lot of traction in the market. Perhaps your social media accounts are helpful in drawing people to your website, but those visitors do not convert into leads. Maybe you’re using email marketing, but your messages have a pretty low click-through rate.
These are all generally good methods for marketing, and they provide a great return when they’re used correctly. So why aren’t these approaches working for you?
Soon you find yourself searching for other methods, being overwhelmed by the huge number of options that are out there, and trying almost everything in the hopes that something will work eventually. Your relatively simple problem has turned into a chaotic mess of random acts of marketing.
Like many other companies, you’re probably making marketing decisions based on what you ASSUME your buyers want, rather than what you KNOW they need. This is a messaging issue: your channels of message distribution could be fine, but if the specific message that you are distributing isn’t right for your buyers then it might seem as though you are wasting your time.
Buyer Knowledge Opens Doors
The solution to your problem—sometimes before you even recognize that a problem exists—lies with an in-depth knowledge of your buyer. Your buyer should be the center of your world, the motivation and reason behind every decision that you make for your company.
Forget about the options for marketing methods for a little while, and start to think more about your message. Understanding what is the best messaging for your marketing strategy has less to do with the actual features of your company’s produce or service, and more to do with your ideal buyer’s needs.
…knowing your buyers’ priorities, the problems in their lives to which they dedicate their time and energy.
…knowing what kind of rewards and benefits your buyer attributes with success.
…knowing exactly why your ideal buyer might choose a competitor’s solution over yours.
…knowing the precise steps and the exact process that your buyers go through when they are exploring their options and selecting a product or service.
…knowing the specific ways in which your buyers make their final purchasing decisions, whether it involves online searches, past experiences, conversations with friends, or social media messaging.
If you knew all of these things, think about the possibilities. Think about the messages you could design around your buyer’s needs and motivations. Think about the doors this knowledge will open into the world of marketing success.
The Key to Open Those Doors
So now that you understand the importance of knowing your buyer and the many possibilities this knowledge will provide you with, what should your course of action be? To know your buyer inside and out, you should develop a buyer persona (or several, depending on the number of different types of buyers you have).
What is a Buyer Persona?
Adele Revella, a career marketer, describes a buyer persona as “an archetype, a composite picture of the real people who buy, or might buy, products like the ones you sell.” In other words, a buyer persona is essentially a fictional character in your marketing story, with all of the same goals, needs, and pain points as your real-life, typical buyer.
Developing a buyer persona involves planning a system of select customer and client interviews. The questions for these interviews are designed to acquire the following types of information about your ideal buyers:
- Their priorities and needs
- How they qualify and define success
- Their doubts and obstacles on the way to achieving success
- The exact processes they use in preparing to make a purchasing decision
- How and why they make their final decision to purchase a product, service, or solution
Buyer Persona vs. Target Market
It is important to recognize that a buyer persona is different from a target market. Your target market is the specific division of the total population on which you focus your energy to achieve your goals for profit. Buyer personas are created on a more individual and personal scale; their data points include story lines such as priorities, successes, obstacles, and hopes. Target markets are make up of descriptive traits such as demographics, psychographics, and behaviors; this information is gathered using historical data, trend-spotting, and customer research.
Reverse that Downward Spiral
If your company is up to the challenge of conducting the customer/client interviews, asking the right questions, and creating your buyer persona internally, here are some tips and guidelines that you must follow in order to complete these tasks successfully.
- Be objective. Pretend that you are a completely impartial observer, someone not associated at all with your company.
- Be sure that the person conducting the interview is skilled and trained, and has some experience with objective interviewing.
- During the interviews, focus on the buyer’s purchase process rather than uncovering customer service problems. This interview is about the buyer, not the buyer’s reaction to your product or service.
- Gather an appropriate and varied sample of interviewees. Don’t just interview your favorite clients; include deals that you have lost as well, as this negative feedback could be even more useful than positive remarks.
- Buyer persona development can become very complex, and your process could involve multiple personas. Look for clues that you have more than one type of buyer on your hands.
If these guidelines seem a little daunting, it is because the buyer persona development process is so extremely important. It is crucial that these interviews are done objectively and focus on the right information. If you feel that your company doesn’t have the resources or expertise to successfully and thoroughly develop the buyer persona that will turn your marketing strategy around, consider contracting with a third party.
Many agencies, such as Hello Marketing, an inbound marketing agency, can be hired to help you with this critical process.
To learn more, grab a copy of our Buyer Persona Guide.