Today’s consumers have an endless choice of which organisations to engage with so as marketers we have to take a much more refined approach to identifying our target audiences.
Traditionally in marketing, audience segmentation is used to build a set of key demographic facts, which are then used to outline an organisation’s core audience. These segments help to forecast market interest for a product or service and can be useful when building your offering. Buyer personas however, give a wider understanding of the emotional and behavioural triggers behind individual customers within that market. Moving beyond segmentation, they allow you to get under the skin of your audience to get a full understanding of their priorities and behaviours to market to them on a personal level. When created properly and kept at front of mind throughout all marketing activity, your buyer personas will become one of the greatest tools in your marketing arsenal.
So what exactly is a buyer persona?
A buyer persona is a detailed personal profile of your ideal target customer. It goes beyond demographic (age/gender/location) and firmographic (geographic area/type of organisation/company size) information and takes into account the feelings and emotions of your audience as well as their aspirations, behaviors, attitudes and buying habits. Personas ensure you aren’t marketing to a faceless crowd, and instead allow your strategy and positioning to be directly targeted to your core customers.
Unlike many forms of business intelligence, buyer personas are not created using statistics from market research alone. Instead, they are built using a blended mix of quantitative and qualitative methods, including ethnography (observing your customer in the place they use or purchase your product or service), focus groups, feedback and your team's in-depth knowledge and experience of the people who engage best with your brand.
It’s a highly personal element of your strategy that can also be really fun to put together. Your personas should inform every marketing decision and be frequently updated as you uncover new learnings about your customer. Personas are a business-wide tool, as they also inform decisions outside of the marketing department, such as product development and sales strategies.
How do buyer personas boost your business?
Buyer personas consistently save your business time and money as they give a strategic focus to all marketing activity. They ensure you’re targeting those most likely to invest in, engage with and become advocates for your brand.
Outside of traditional sales targets, buyer personas give your business a tangible sense of direction. Your activity can be designed around reaching your community and solving their problems, which in turn generates revenue into the future.
Buyer personas are also a brilliant way for scaling companies to identify potential new markets. As your business grows, your buyer personas can be expanded into new audiences, so when you launch to a new market, you’re making maximum impact from the get-go.
How to build a buyer persona?
Creating buyer personas requires dedication and commitment but it will pay dividends in the long-run. To create effective personas, you’ll need a mixture of research, focus groups and surveys, all of which should be bespoke to your own organisation. Your process should look something like the below:
To begin, you’ll need to organise a persona workshop, inviting team members who interact with the persona in question, as well as existing customers who fit into the persona group. You’ll ask them a series of questions to gain as much insight as possible. To discover what kind of questions to ask as well as how to run an effective workshop, we’ve developed a step-by-step guide to take you through the whole process.
Once you have completed your workshops, you’ll need to go further with your research. You can find many insights for both B2B and B2C consumers online, through blogs, press coverage and social channels. To find out how different tactics can be used to complete market research, check out this guide.
Conducting consumer surveys is an excellent way to gather first-hand information about your personas. With their answers, you can fill any gaps and validate your research and workshop findings. You’ll also get an understanding of the types of language your personas to guide your messaging and tone of voice. We’ve outlined the best tools to use to conduct your surveys as well as the questions you should be asking in this guide.
Buyer personas are an integral part of any customer centric marketing strategy. Don’t forget to keep them at front of mind when deciding which tactics to use, and make sure they’re accessible to your whole team, as they’re a key tool for the whole business. If you’re ready to build a strategy focused around personas, check out our programme to find out more.
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