There are still some companies out there that don’t even seriously think about their target group.
Others are already further along and define them. Then it is said that our target groups are medium-sized companies or women at the age of 40 with two children.
That’s a good start.
But such a target group definition is too boardlike and does not take into account some things that are important for the purchase decision. It is simply too one-dimensional.
A buyer persona goes in a very similar direction, but describes the target customer much better!
But one after the other.
What is a buyer persona?
A buyer persona is an invented person who is based on research, market research, and real data of your prospects and customers. It is the face of your target group.
Or to put it another way:
Buyer Personas are Archetype of your target group.
But it is more than just a face. A buyer persona pays particular attention to the behavior of that person. It includes problems, needs, desires, goals, and objections.
A buyer persona is much more profound and gives you detailed insights into the decision-making and emotional world of your customer. Finally, we have a three-dimensional human being!
Personas are especially attractive for products and services where you have to invest a lot of time and thought.
For example, if I want to buy an inbound marketing platform, I think about it intensively and for a long time. If, on the other hand, I want to buy a Snickers at the gas station, I don’t waste so much time on it. (But even here you can work wonderfully with Personas.)
Also, there are negative buyer personas, which are considered in precisely the same way. These are people you don’t want to have as customers. I wouldn’t write them down anywhere, but I would give them enough thought.
Who invented Buyer Personas?
In 1983, Alan Cooper was faced with the task of developing a new project management tool.
He instinctively knew that if the solution was to be easy to use, it had to be tailored to the needs of the customer. Remember that at that time, the tools were still very product-oriented and therefore, complicated.
So he came up with the idea of interviewing some colleagues who would be perfect customers for this software. The result of this work was a fictional person: Kathy.
Whenever he thought about Kathy now, he could respond much better to her problems and wishes.
That’s why he made it a routine to play around on the golf course at noon and talk to Kathy out loud. The golfers were amazed, but he didn’t care. The concept worked: He knew which feature was essential and which was not.
Today, Adelle Revella continues to advance the subject with her Buyer Persona Institute and her book “Buyer Persona.” Above all, I can recommend the book to everyone. And Tony Zambito also puts the pedal to the metal and focuses on the subject.
What are the advantages of a Buyer Persona?
Do you know the feeling when you’re on a website, and you think, “Hey! That’s just like it was made for me!”?
Usually, a perfect buyer persona was used that fits you. That is also the significant advantage of it.
You go away from “I, I, I” thinking and start spinning everything around your customers. You focus on your customers in your communication and your solution.
But let’s take a look at some other significant advantages:
- You know exactly who your customer is, how he wants to be addressed, and how to reach him.
- This makes every message, every campaign, and every content more targeted and effective.
- Accordingly, you attract the right leads, which, over time, become the right customers.
- Marketing and sales also focus on a clear goal and thus work more efficiently.
- Also, you differentiate yourself from your competitors because you know the customer’s needs best.
- In the end, you know where to bundle your resources and how to align your organization.
And what happens now? Suddenly you no longer have a megaphone, but a lively conversation with your customer at eye level.
How do you create a Buyer Persona?
There are no rules for creating a buyer persona.
There are many different ways, which are very detailed, but accordingly also much too complicated.
Therefore, we have developed a simple method that consists of the following six components and is based on Adel’s “5 Rings of Buying Insights“:
- Background – What is your persona called? What does it look like? How old is she? Where does she live? What does she do for a living? How much income does she have? Does she have a family?
- Why – What is the reason why your customer buys? Why did your customer decide to look for a solution?
- Advantages – Which advantages does your customer expect for himself personally and for his organization, which are essential to him?
- Objections – What prevents your customer from buying from you? What do your competitors do better? Are there any prejudices?
- Customer Journey – What does your customer’s journey look like? How does he compare options? Which influencers does he consult? How did he decide in which phase?
- Features – Which special features of the solution are important to him? Which features do alternative solutions have?
Because we humans are visual creatures, you are looking for a suitable image that perfectly represents your buyer persona.
If you look at these six elements from a slightly different perspective, then these are all essential components of the traditional sales process that one would perform face-to-face.
In general, I am convinced that as an entrepreneur, you should always have a feel for your market. Above all, you automatically have a good feeling for your persona if you have regular direct customer contact. Therefore it is the easiest way to create your persona first from the gut.
To increase the accuracy and density afterward, you should conduct interviews. You can focus on the following groups:
- People who have considered you and chosen you (your customers).
- People who have considered you and chosen a competitor.
- People who have considered you but have chosen to let things be as they are.
- People who have never considered you, but have chosen a competitor or a substitution good.
If you conduct (or have conducted) these interviews, don’t talk so much about your company and your solution, or preferably not at all.
Try to identify patterns, attitudes, and opinions that influence the buying process. Let the customers tell you their story.
Take about 30 minutes for an interview and record it best. Take a few notes as possible and concentrate on a casual conversation with your interviewee. Don’t try to use a fixed script, start with the question: “Why did you decide to look for such a solution back then? After about ten interviews, you recognize patterns and slowly know that this is enough.
Then you have to mine the interviews. The best thing is to have the recording transcribed and then filter out the six elements. You then summarize these into short statements (in principle like a headline), but leave the quote also. You then let these insights flow into your buyer persona.
You can find all the representative background data wonderfully on social media. For example, take a close look at the profiles of your interview partners and check out your social media analytics. Only Facebook Insights can give you excellent data.
How many Buyer Personas do you need?
Maybe you are already thinking about your personas and how many you need?
The good thing now is that you often need less than you think. Adele also says that you usually only need half as many.
For example, if you have customers from five different industries, countries, or company sizes, you might automatically think that you need five different Buyer Personas. It’s best to be in the B2B sector and then have five different decision-makers. Then we have 25 different personas somewhere. But that’s way too much. Then the shot backfires!
What common mistakes do you make with buyer personas?
First of all, marketing is always an art form. And when it comes to art, you can still do things wrong.
You rely on robust data, but especially if you have several personas and have to summarize them, there is no right or wrong.
Sometimes you can exaggerate a bit during the creation. Whether the persona is called Kevin or Klaus and has a shepherd dog or a bulldog is hardly relevant if you want to sell a marketing platform.
Another funny mistake Tom Fishbourne, shows us here. You have to be careful that your buyer persona doesn’t automatically reflect you or the marketing team. Something like this can happen without you noticing it.
Last but not least, Mark Schaefer addresses another interesting point here. He writes if all competitors focus on the same data, that at the end the same personas and accordingly the same messages come out.
The solution to all these problems is, as I said before, that you have to know your market pretty well.
How do you use a Buyer Persona?
Your buyer persona goes through all the critical business areas.
As I said before, you should focus on them and build your whole company around them.
But above all, the following areas of the company will be affected:
- Design – Does your design speak to your persona? Does it deliver things that interest them?
- Communication – Do you talk to her in your conversation and campaigns?
- Copywriting – Do all your advertising texts speak to your persona? Only with her?
- Content – Is your content optimally tailored to your persona?
- Product – Does your solution please your persona? Do you focus on their needs and wishes?
- Strategy – In which direction is your persona developing? Do you develop with it?
If you look at some companies and compare these points with them, then many have to rethink their complete marketing approach.
Uniquely about your inbound marketing, you should map the customer journey correctly with your content. So check whether you are still missing content at a particular stage and whether your content hub displays your content correctly.
The concept of buyer personas is quite simple: you interview interested parties and customers, recognize specific patterns, and let them flow into an archetype.
Since you always want to have a better result and the people in your target group change as well. You should conduct these interviews regularly and improve your buyer persona.
With buyer personas it’s a bit like cheating: You know what your customer wants, how he wants it, and which steps he goes along before he buys. This is a competitive advantage that the others don’t have.
So please be the company that not only defines its target group but also gives serious thought to their buyer persona and invests resources there.
Communicate with a persona, not with a target group.