If you’ve ever done any kind of advertising or marketing, you’ve probably heard of a buyer persona.
These fictional customer profiles use realistic demographic information to help you isolate and speak to potential customers. In the right hands, they can be a powerful part of your marketing strategy.
Just one problem: Creating a buyer persona often gets pushed to the backburner by busy CEOs.
Sure, they sound like a great idea, but who really has time to jump on Google or LinkedIn and do the market research required to create a fake customer?
But the truth is a well-crafted buyer persona can save hundreds of man-hours and tens of thousands of dollars by helping you craft more accurate marketing messages, isolate key pain points, and effectively roadmap the buyer’s journey.
Here are 5 reasons why buyer personas matter for your business.
1. Buyer personas help you find your ideal customer.
No matter your product or service, finding your ideal customer is a challenge. This is true whether you have a very common product or a very niche service. Let’s look at each scenario in turn.
If you sell a common product, you may have a wide range of customers but a crowded field of competitors. If you sell dish soap, and your customer can buy dish soap somewhere else, why would they come to you in order to make this purchase?
So, in order to appeal to a specific customer, you need to differentiate yourself. But, in order to do that, you need to first isolate who your ideal customer would be. And, for that, you’ll need a buyer persona.
On the other hand, if you sell an uncommon product or service, you may have a good idea of who your target customer should be. You may not need to find out who they are, but you need to find out where they are. Considering how expensive advertising can be, why throw away a ton of money on an advertising venue your target customer doesn’t use?
A buyer persona can help with that, too.
Every brand has fans and critics. A buyer persona can help you find your fans faster and eliminate excess expenditures in the process.
By developing a buyer persona for your business, you can figure out what customers fit into your target audience, where you’re likely to find them, how they communicate, what they value, and — most importantly — what they actually care about.
2. Personas help you figure out how to talk to your ideal customer.
In marketing and sales, offering products and services to the right people in the wrong way will make your message fall on deaf ears.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a scenario where a buyer persona could help you avoid an advertising catastrophe:
Big Boss Digital has made a development decision to only offer their new drawing app via Android. In doing so, they’ll be able to save on development costs required for iOS.
Their app is the new Photoshop. It allows photographers, illustrators, and designers to create anything they want on the Android platform. Simple and straight forward.
They develop and launch the app and advertise it everywhere only to discover that the number of downloads they’re seeing is much lower than expected.
They reach out to several high-profile artists on Instagram to try for an affiliate deal only to discover that all the top artists in the space use iPad exclusively. Despite the overwhelming percentage of Android-based users, their customer base is located on a platform they chose to avoid during development.
As a result, their numbers are lower than expected, and their marketing team spent thousands creating content for customers that simply don’t exist.
The artists they’ve spoken with think their app is interesting, but not so interesting that they’ll trade in their existing hardware for it. In order to be competitive in the right market, Big Boss Digital will need to go back to the drawing board and complete app development for iOS.
When your product, adverts, and sales copy don’t resonate with the people you’re trying to reach, it’s a costly mistake.
A detailed buyer persona can help you avoid these and similar pitfalls because it forces you to conduct thorough market research in order to gain a deep understanding of the audience.
3. Buyer personas help you retain customers and build trust.
More often than not, customer retention comes down to trust.
According to research put together by Salesforce, over 90% of customers who trust in an organization remain loyal to the brand, recommend it to others, and buy more products and services more often.
Trust matters, and it’s not just down to conversion rates. When customers trust your recommendations, they’re more likely to pay attention to your marketing.
Have you ever been stuck on a mailing list that you didn’t want to be on in the first place? Maybe you had to sign up for it in order to get a coupon or a deal, but after the first few emails, you either unsubscribe or throw the email in the trash.
Compare that with an email that always has a great recommendation for you. You pay attention. You wait for it to show up in your inbox and bring you the products or content that you love. And you trust that brand to deliver on great content every time that it shows up.
For me, that brand is Audible. I’m excited to see book recommendations in my inbox every day. Between their algorithms and my purchases, they know enough about me to understand what books I’m likely to enjoy and which ones I don’t want to see.
Companies are able to do that by personalizing their results and using them to build detailed buyer personas. Then, whether they’re creating great content or offering a new product, they know who to contact and which shoppers are likely to be their best customers.
A small business might not have access to the same level of data, but company size doesn’t matter if you use buyer personas built on existing intelligence. That might mean making a few phone calls, talking to decision-makers, and digging a little deeper with actual customers. It might mean looking at Google Analytics and figuring out traffic patterns on your website.
Once you understand your customers, you can create buyer personas that help you rapidly build trust with your target audience. That leads to more sales and better long-term customer retention.
4. Buyer personas help you expand your brand audience.
A buyer persona helps you expand your customer base by drawing a clear box around your current customers.
Whether you’re choosing to offer a new product or service or you simply want to offer your existing catalog to a new selection of customers, marketing personas tell your sales and marketing team who, why, and how they should connect with each market segment.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you sell a generic product, like adhesive bandages for cuts and scrapes.
There are some major players in this category, but your particular brand of bandages has been a big hit with hikers and outdoor enthusiasts because of its super-sticky adhesive. Other brands just fall off when the going gets tough, but your bandage stays on and stays stuck.
Over the last quarter, you’ve really hit the cap on this market. The sector is profitable, but it’s static.
You decide you want to expand and reach out to a new customer, and it’s pretty obvious who that customer should be: Parents with small children. Children need rugged bandages because they don’t slow down. They crawl and climb and roll all day long.
But you can’t talk about the benefits of your bandages to parents in the same way that you’d talk to a hiker. Those buyer personas don’t match. You need to create a newer, family-friendly buyer persona for your product.
It’s the same great product you’ve always made but, with a different persona, you’ve been able to expand into a completely different category.
The right buyer persona helps you reach different types of customers with the same product.
While you may need to apply different disciplines in order to create the appropriate sales and marketing collateral, it’s much easier to run a content marketing campaign or a social media blitz than it is to develop an entirely new product from scratch.
As an added bonus: When it’s time to develop a new product, your own buyer personas will help you figure out exactly what products you should offer to your customers.
5. Buyer personas help you personalize your products and services.
One of the biggest changes in marketing over the last fifteen years comes down to two words: Big data. These extremely large data sets can be analyzed for patterns and trends to help companies understand customers and sell products with greater efficiency.
While big data gets a bad rap in the news, it’s important to remember that most acquisition is a two-way street.
One study from Accenture pointed out that 83% of customers are willing to share their data in order to enable a more personalized experience. Additionally, 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences.
Why? Because personalization gives your brand the opportunity to address pain points that are specific and unique to your ideal customers.
This is key to both your marketing efforts and your sales process. If your sales team knows and understands what pain points your customers are trying to solve, they can help address common objections and recommend accurate solutions.
Persona research helps you reach these conclusions earlier because it forces you to look at the data, talk to real people, and draw conclusions from relevant data sets. In turn, that data helps you personalize everything from product development to sales and marketing.
A Persona is a Mirror
There are dozens of ways to build an effective buyer persona.
All the data you need to build an effective buyer persona is already out there. You could gather data about household income, level of education, preferred technology, shopper frequency, and more.
But you should also listen to your current customers. Conduct interviews, speak with influencers, and figure out what you do that resonates with your existing audience.
At the end of the day, a buyer persona should be a mirror in which a prospective customer can see themselves. Once you’ve built a detailed buyer persona, use it as a baseline to grow your brand.
Need someone to help you create a buyer persona or develop an effective marketing strategy? I can help. Get in touch to get started!