The importance of the buyer persona

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Discover your audience

The key to success in any branding, marketing or digital campaign is to understand your audience. A fundamental principle of this is to recognize and define your buyer personas.

“A buyer persona is a detailed description that tells the story of your ideal customer. It describes the important characteristics of the individual that will buy from you.”

A buyer persona is important because it gives perspective and helps define insights into your audience. So many businesses I talk to have 1. Never heard of buyer persons or 2. They have heard but don’t believe that it is necessary to define them on paper anyway. The point is that most businesses tell me they know their audience but I have one question for them. Are they selling to this audience? We all have ideas of the audience we should be selling to but are we selling to them? Comparing your buyer personas to your actual buyers will answer that for you in a heartbeat.

A buyer persona portfolio should be a fundamental part of every marketing strategy. It will help shape your brand, your creative and target audience. Here are two simple examples. A client of mine makes dentures and without discriminating on the age we know that 90% of his target market is in the 60 plus age category. Based on this we decided that we would not be focusing most of our marketing efforts in snap chat and twitter. We would engage social media but the social platforms of choice would lend to the demographic in question. Another client whose business is in the apparel industry has a product that is heavily influenced by millennials and we needed to understand where this audience spent their time, in order to target them. We also needed to understand their needs and wants, their problems and how to build trust with them. A detailed buyer persona portfolio enabled us to do just that, proving that a detailed persona can amplify your marketing success.

However, there are many instances of a business that has a mixed demographic or products or services that cater to specific demographics that need to cover all categories. The key to success here is to understand what their needs are, in other words, you are marketing the same product or service to a category of people with different needs i.e. you must approach their problem individually even though you are selling them the same product or service. This is why I refer to building buyer personas as part of a portfolio or suite of personas. If done right at the outset the personas will add serious value to your marketing activities.

How does a buyer persona add value to marketing activities? A buyer persona affects everything from your brand, your website design and usability, customer journey, customer touch points through to building a detailed and targeted media campaign. At a fundamental level, they enable you to understand how customers think, react and respond to everything around them. This helps you identify how the same customers are likely to react to your targeted campaigns and marketing efforts. You can apply this to existing customers as well as prospects. A well-defined persona suite helps you to target the customer, find where they are, how they liked to be approached, what information they are looking for, how to solve their problems and carry them over the finishing line.

A persona sounds like a magic wand that does all the work for you but it’s the opposite. The more effort you put into developing the suite of personas early on the better your marketing efforts will be. But with anything worth doing it takes time and yes you will have to revise and revisit your personas again and again. Why? Because your service or product could change, your brand might be refreshed, you might develop an app?

The market is changing continuously as is the way in which we engage customers. Because of this continuous change, you will have to revise and potentially redefine some of your personas too if they are to stay effective.  In order to reduce the overall effort on your behalf, I recommend engaging your customers on a regular basis and getting feedback to see if their needs have changed. A quiz, email, survey via text, email, social media or app is the most effective way to ensure that your service or product is keeping up with industry changes and most importantly your client’s needs.

So, if you have not created a buyer persona or a portfolio of buyer personas then you are missing out. Would you jump to attention if I told you that a buyer persona should be a strategic tool that impacts your business trajectory and ROI? Well, it does. So, start creating your buyer personas today or refine existing ones if you have not dusted them off in some time. And watch as your audience suddenly discovers you.

Keep an eye on the website for free resources and tools including a buyer person template which you can download here