Originally published in February 2018; Updated April 2021
There’s nothing new about the idea that we have to know our audience (our potential customers) in order to achieve success with our branding and marketing efforts. However, this idea has evolved in recent years, and now we’re getting much more specific when envisioning our prospects. Enter: Buyer Personas.
Buyer Personas: Beyond Demographics
Today’s marketing wisdom tells us to go beyond simple demographics by envisioning fully fleshed-out buyer personas. Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on market research and data that you gather about your existing customers. While old-school marketing was content to describe customers as “Birkenstock-wearing,” “Volvo-driving,” or “Duck-Dynasty-watching,” today’s concept of the buyer persona hones in on much greater detail, envisioning a full person who represents a profile of your typical customer.
Upgrading from basic demographics to buyer personas is like going from a stick-person sketch to a lifelike painting…and it can make a huge difference in the success of your marketing.
Detailed Questions, Detailed Answers
As you build your buyer personas, you will need to ask plenty of questions beyond the relationships your ideal customers have to your product or service. To build an effective buyer persona, you will want to know:
- Where they spend time online
- What problems they need solved
- What resources they trust
- Where they get their news
- Where they shop
- What their hobbies are
- What magazines they read
- What advertising they respond to
- What kind of car they drive
- How they make buying decisions
…and so on. Thoughtfully evaluate your customer base on many different spectrums: CNN, NPR or Fox News? Manolo Blahniks or LL Bean? Whole Foods or Grocery Outlet? Sierra Club or NRA? Cash or Credit? Facebook or Instagram? Crossfit or Pilates? Green tea or espresso? Craigslist or eBay? Doing this will help you get a clearer picture of who your customers are and how they are most likely to engage with your brand or product.
Why Are Buyer Personas Important? Consider the Benefits
We know this seems like an elaborate exercise, but it really does pay off. How? Well, for starters:
- You begin to view your prospects as real people, not faceless demographic compilations
- You narrow down your target market, which allows you to target them much more effectively, rather than trying to be all things to all people
- You narrow down their pain points, enabling you to address them much more specifically
- You have a consistent perspective from which to build your brand and make important decisions
- You’ll have the tools to identify when you’re at risk of jeopardizing one buyer persona in favor of another, and to make a conscious choice in the matter
So, why are buyer personas important? In a nutshell, buyer personas make it easier to tailor your messaging, product development, and services to meet the needs of your target audience. And when you meet the needs of your audience, they will be much more likely to engage with your business.
How Do You Craft Your Buyer Personas?
To create your buyer personas, you need to gather detailed information about your ideal customer. Start by gleaning any information you can about your existing audience by doing the following:
- Set up an online survey. You can offer something valuable in return for filling out the survey, such as a discount or access to special content
- Interview a select group of customers (like your top 5%), offering an incentive to them as well
- Mine your CRM for data on your existing customers and prospects
- Talk to your customers directly when possible (but keep it casual)
- Ask your sales people for their impressions on the matter
The information you gather from these sources will be key to creating your buyer personas. Imagine, for example, doing a survey of cars in two distinct drive-thrus: Starbucks and Taco Bell. You could make note of details like what types of cars are driven, how well they’re maintained, and the number of people in them, then note the differences you find between the two drive-thrus. Wouldn’t that generate useful information for building buyer personas for those businesses?
Looking for more in-depth help creating your buyer personas? HubSpot offers a great online tool that walks you through the process. We’ve used it ourselves and recommend it to our clients. Check it out here!
Reevaluate Your Marketing Using Your Buyer Personas
Once you’ve crafted a few vivid, three-dimensional buyer personas, test your marketing and product ideas against everything you know about them. Taglines, color schemes, advertising channels…these can all be evaluated in the context of your buyer personas. This evaluation will be a good litmus test to see how well your current marketing efforts are meeting the needs of your target audience. From there, you can determine what needs to change to make your marketing even more effective.
Laser-Focus Your Marketing Efforts With Buyer Personas
Once you confine your marketing efforts to a highly-defined, limited market, you will be able to engage those individuals on a much deeper level and make better marketing decisions with them in mind. For instance, instead of sending out the same lead-generating messages to all of your contacts, you can segment your contact list by buyer persona and create messages that are tailored to each of them.
Personalized marketing is MUCH more effective than generic messaging. Think about it—are you more likely to read and respond to a generic message or one that speaks to your needs, wants, and concerns?
When used well, buyer personas will strengthen your marketing and allow you to connect more effectively with the prospects who are looking for a company just like yours.
If you could use some help creating your buyer personas, or with other areas of your marketing strategy, Wild Fig Marketing is here to help! Contact us today to get started!