Who’s Your Customer? Why you need a Buyer Persona.

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UGGH! It so frustrating! I’ve published lots of blogs and content on social media only to find it doesn’t generate significant web traffic or social media followers. I thought “Content was King!” I have great content!! What’s up?? That’s exactly what I was saying a few years back until I discovered the concept of a persona.

A persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. It is a written, detailed profile of a fake person that is representative of your ideal customers. Once you have fully developed a persona, you can create content in such a way that it will resonate with your potential customers. Once I did that, website traffic jumped way up and I started generating leads. Personas, or more specifically, buyer personas help define and align not just content, but all your marketing efforts to your ideal customer.

The more you know and understand your ideal customer, the greater your ability to target them effectively, understand them, understand their problems or needs and offer more personalized solutions with your products or services. With a buyers persona ( and you can have more than one), you can create content that will attract them, drive website traffic and convert them to eventually be customers.

The practice of creating detailed written buyer personas is essential to the foundation of any marketing strategy.

The top three benefits of creating buyer personas

1) Personas help provide a deep understanding of your customers: meaning their challenges, problems, concerns, objections and goals, not only in life but also in business. These insights help you create marketing messages, web content and social media posts that resonate with them on a more personal level.

2) Personas help align everyone within your business to understanding the particular type of customer(s) you are trying to sell to; marketing, sales, customer service and product research and development.

3) Personas provide a solid starting place to find keywords that your ideal customers are using to search the Internet for solutions or challenges that your product or service can provide.

Not having personas is similar to running a business without a business plan. Without a business plan, you are just guessing, not able to fine tune your efforts and not reach goals. Generally, businesses without a plan either fail or fail to grow. The same is true if you don’t develop good marketing personas.

How do I develop a buyer persona?

Your business may have only one or two personas but the more diverse your offerings, the more personas you will likely need to have. If you are new to using personas, just start with one and build from there.

The best way to develop a buyer persona is through your own market research to gain insights about your customers. One of the best places to start is by looking through your existing customer database for trends or similarities. You can also examine feedback from salespeople about the interactions they have with their contacts. Conduct surveys or interviews with current customers as well as prospects and even unhappy customers. You might learn something you can easily change about your offering to win them back.

The more you learn about the challenges and problems that you are or are not solving, you will gain a deeper understanding of your customer and more fully develop a persona. Another way to gain information is through forms on your website when people sign up for a blog, download or consultation. Ask questions like, what is their role within their company or what is their primary source of information.  Just a note to the wise here, don’t ask too many questions as it will deter your website visitors from filling out the form. The number and kind of form questions should be balanced with the value of the offer. If they don’t fill out the form, you don’t get a contact! 

What questions do I ask?

Question sets will vary on things like whether your customers are businesses or consumers. The following are just basic guidelines for questions. You will have to determine which questions are best for your business. Remember, your goal is to build a profile of who they are.

A deep understanding is not gained by just finding out what they do and what their needs or problems are, but why! Why are they searching for your product or service? If you’re a car dealer and someone is searching for a mini-van, you need to know why. Is it because they play in a band and need to haul around equipment? Is it because they have a large family, or is it something else? It will make a difference in the content you create and solutions you provide them.

Basic guidelines for Persona Development Research

Demographic / Personal Information

a) Get some basic demographic information: age, sex, education, marital status, etc. Only ask questions that are appropriate for your needs.
b) What does a typical day look like for them?
c) What are their personal goals?
d) What are the most important things to them?
e) Do they use social media? Which ones and why?

Role

Ask questions about their role at work or perhaps at home depending on your customer base.

a) What is their job title?
b) What skills are required to do their job?
c) What tools and knowledge is required to do their job?
d) Who do they report to and who reports to them?

Company

a) What industry are they in or service?
b) What is their annual revenue?
c) How many employees does the company have?

Goals

a) How is their job performance measured?
b) What are the milestones they are looking to achieve?
c) What are their career goals?

What are their challenges?

a) Do they have limited time?
b) Do they need the right tools?
c) do they need knowledge or assistance?

Where do they go for information?

a) How do they learn new information related to their job or personal situation?
b) What Publications or Blogs do the read?
c) To what associations do they belong?

What experiences are they looking for with your business?

a) How do they prefer to interact with vendors? (e.g., email, phone, in person)
b) Do they need guidance?
c) Are they looking for complete solutions?

What are their concerns about your service or product?

a) Price?
b) Quality?
c) Effectiveness?
d) Response time or customer service?

How many people do I need to get responses from or interview?

In the world of statistics, they say 20 is the minimum to get “statistical significant ” results. That means that the collective response of at least 20 people should be able to apply to the public at large. Generally, the rule of thumb is enough to start seeing commonalities or trends. Keep in mind, many people you interview, especially those that are prospects and not already your customers, may not fit into the persona you are developing. In fact, a new one might begin to emerge, so the more you interview will certainly serve you better. You should be able to get enough data to develop a fictitious person (persona) based on the common answers and condense them onto a persona worksheet or profile.

Ok, I have a persona – What’s Next?

In the world of statistics, they say 20 is the minimum to get “statistically significant ” results. That means that the collective response of at least 20 people should be able to apply to the public at large. Generally, the rule of thumb is enough to start seeing commonalities or trends.

Keep in mind, many people you interview, especially those that are prospects and not already your customers, may not fit into the persona you are developing. In fact, a new one might begin to emerge, so the more you interview will certainly serve you better. You should be able to get enough data to develop a fictitious person (persona) based on the common answers and condense them onto a persona worksheet or profile.

A Final Tip:

Finally, once you have a persona, give it a name like Marketing Mary, CEO Chuck or RV Buyer Bettie. This way others in your organization can easily identify the persona you’re referring when talking about content development or ad campaigns. Always remember to revisit your persona and update it. Just like people, they evolve and change too. A persona can always be fine-tuned. The better your persona, the more you will be able to connect and sell to them.

Get a Free Persona Workbook!

A step-by-step guide to creating effective buyer personas
Includes an example and an area to build your own!