The Buyer Persona: Research That Tells a Customer’s Story

Posted by Alison Leishman on April 4, 2016 at 10:35 AM

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Is buyer persona just yet another buzzword in marketing? Not according to the statistics!  In order to make informed decisions around your marketing and sales strategy it is essential to define your buyer personas.  A well-defined buyer persona informs your teams about the buyers behaviour, and what’s more, about how they expect you to behave.  It informs every aspect of your marketing and sales efforts through a deeper understanding of your ideal customer.

Have a look at our overview on what makes a great buyer persona strategy for your business.

  1.  A buyer persona is grounded in reality

Well, mostly. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional­, mostly realistic representation of who your customer is.  The process of creating a buyer persona involves a variety of different research processes – personal interviews, surveys, analytics – which are combined to create a well-defined character who portrays the behaviours that you have observed in your real customer base.

  1. Buyer personas are NOT target markets!

It’s an easy comparison to make, but there is a marked difference between the traditional target market and the buyer persona. A target market reads like an insurance form:  age, gender, job title, income, and other information that doesn’t actually tell you anything about the person you’re talking to.

While a buyer persona does include demographics, it goes on to cover technographics, interests, motivation for purchasing, and pain points. It’s a fully-fleshed out idea of your customer. Buyer personas have a name, they have a history, they have an opinion – in fact, they tell a story.

  1. You’re not limited to one buyer persona per business

Any company is likely to have numerous buyer personas – there will never be just the one type of person who will become a customer. Think of a jewelry store: their typical customer is a young man buying an engagement ring. Their typical customer is also a rich businessman buying a necklace for his new wife. Their typical customer is also a mother buying a bracelet for her daughter. Their typical customer is also a wealthy woman buying herself a new set of diamond earrings. See where we’re going with this? Your buyer persona isn’t limited to one type of person with one set of behaviours. They can be varied and motivated by myriad different factors. Make sure you know how many buyer personas you’re marketing to.

  1. You should also look at negative personas

While it’s wonderful to consider the buyer personas of customers you have and are hoping to generate more of, it’s a good idea to keep in mind the sort of customer you don’t want to attract. A negative buyer persona would have traits along the lines of “doesn’t pay on time; throws around sexist slurs” etc. It’s the person you want to avoid at all costs.

  1. Your buyer persona can (and probably will) change

As you go through your sales and marketing process with your new buyer personas in mind, you might come to realise that your initial impression of your buyer persona was off-the-mark. As your business changes, so too might your buyer persona. Think of your buyer persona creation as an ongoing project, rather than a one-day workshop. Don’t feel loyal to the first buyer persona you create, but rather research, re-examine, reject, and recreate.

  1. Creating your buyer persona should be a collaborative effort

When you’re creating your buyer persona, it should be done with input from both Sales and Marketing. It’s almost a guarantee that they’ll have different ideas of your company’s buyer personas, and if you exclude one, your buyer persona will be lacking in depth. A collaborative buyer persona is made superior by the power of Smarketing.

  1. Your buyer personas are your most powerful marketing tool!

Inbound marketing is data-driven and centred around results, which means that when you’re planning a new marketing strategy, you know that you need to keep your carefully formulated buyer personas in mind. While this may seem to inhibit your planning process, buyer personas are actually be your greatest tool when strategizing, guiding you in every step of the process. Once you’ve got your buyer personas, formulating a marketing strategy is easy – you know their interests, you know where they hang out, and you know the content they will want to consume.

Here are some quick tips to use when developing your buyer persona and creating content that talks specifically to them.

What you’re asking

What you should be asking

 What should I be posting?

 What would be useful for my buyer persona?

 Why am I posting it?

 Does this content assist my buyer persona to make a decision?

 When should I post it?

 What is in the online behaviour of my buyer persona?

 What content should I be creating?

 What content will encourage my buyer persona to interact with me?

 Where am I most likely to have online success?

 Where does my buyer persona go for helpful information? Am I talking to my buyer persona on the right platforms?

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Topics: Marketing

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