All marketing strategy starts with understanding your customer.
Whatever you call them: customer, buyer, client, student, you need to get to know who they are in order to effectively speak to them.
In this article, we’ll walk you through what a buyer persona looks like, why it is so important to your marketing strategy, and give you some tips on how to use them when launching campaigns or otherwise improving marketing performance.
What is a Buyer Persona?
A buyer persona is an idealized version of your customer that you probably already had in mind when your business was created.
This person has needs, wants, fears, desires, problems to solve, and pain to relieve, all of which can be resolved by your business’s value proposition. And even though this idealistic customer is the heart and soul of your target audience, he or she probably only lives in your imagination. That’s where your buyer persona comes in… time to put your target customer on paper!
Why is the Buyer Persona Important?
Have you ever felt that a product or service is speaking directly to you? It’s not a coincidence.
This is the outcome of exhaustive research and a creative process resulting in an entirely accurate buyer persona. A persona that probably looks a lot like you!
Getting clarity on a buyer persona for your business gives you the direction needed to define your product or service attributes, and how to communicate them effectively to position your business in the pain-point you’re trying to resolve for your customers.
This persona will then inform so much more than just your marketing. Building personas around your market segments will also improve sales processes and additional product development.
Uncovering that target persona can reveal misrepresentations when matching problems with solutions in your existing marketing communications. Your target audience may see you as irrelevant if the perceived attributes of your product or service do not match the problem you are trying to solve.
Hubspot’s simple buyer persona definition reminds us to always look at the demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals to get as detailed as possible on this semi-fictional persona of our ideal customer. This characterization should be so detailed that you should be able to draw a portrait of your ideal client. Here’s how:
4 Tips and Recommendations for Developing Your Buyer Persona
The accuracy and usefulness of your persona(s) will depend on the quality of your questions.
As Peter Merholz explains in his Harvard Business Review article, “The Best Way to Understand Your Customers,” to authentically speak to your target customer, you must move past the statisitcs and demographics and find a way to truly empathize with them.
That is why you must explore how your audience thinks, perceives, and observes the world, and how your product or service fits into that.
Here are a 4 important steps to get in the mind of your buyer’s persona:
1. Review Your Analytics
Look at the demographics to match a specific gender, age, and geographic location to your persona. You may consider different aspects to dig into, like a purchase situation that includes a time frame, purchase channel, and action driver. Google Analytics allows you to see all of this detailed information on the recent visitors and converters on your website. Start there.
2. Compare with Your Current Customers
Now with this rough demographic data in hand, review your current customer base to find somebody who looks like your ideal customer.
It is just as important for your marketing team to try to understand the motivation behind what led a customer to make a purchase with you, as it is to understand the demographics of this person. What problem did you solve for them? What led them to you? Where are they at in life? What industry are they working in, or what is their job title? Do they have kids? Are they married? What motivates them?
Now, if you uncover a gap between your ideal customer and your existing customer, you may need to reflect on the direction of your company’s marketing strategy and messaging framework first.
3. Consider All of Your Audiences
If you are a B2C brand, you may have various types of customers, and to effectively run your marketing campaigns, you should have a separate persona representing each group. For example, if you are an athletic shoe retailer, you will have different sports, genders, ages, levels of play, etc. to consider.
Your messaging for college athletes is going to read a lot differently than your soccer parent advertisements. Both may be extremely important demographics for your business, but they each value completely different things.
If you are a B2B brand, your client persona will look quite different since their problems and needs are organizational, not individual, and have a significant impact on business growth, profit and sustainability.
The Buyer Persona Institute says that to create an effective B2B persona, you must first focus on the buying decision, then the person making it. Essentially, you have to work backwords when marketing business to business.
4. Bring Your Persona to Life
Now let’s bring it all together. You know the gender, age, geolocation, and other demographic details of your persona. You’ve thought through their beliefs, desires, feelings, problem, and decisions. You can finally bring your customer persona to life! This might sound a bit silly, but it’s time to give your persona a name and a face.
Calling your customer persona by name will help you improve your communication and alignment across internal business teams and agency partners to keep your brand consistent.
This is especially advantageous and necessary when you have multiple target buyer personas. You can even go the extra step to find a nice stock photo of your new persona to put a face with the name.
Now when you meet with Ollo Metrics to plan and execute your next digital marketing campaign for athletic shoes, you can refer to “Athletic Alex” or “Little League Loren” with a unique buyer persona in hand.
And you’ll be helping to clarify and reinforce your personaswhen referring to them by name instead of asking, “How is the campaign for parents-who-want-to-provide-an-active-lifestyle-for-their-kids-through-extracurricular-and-athletic-opportunities-in-organized-sports-but-also-in-our-beautiful-BC-backyard performing?”
So, have fun with it. Get creative. Get your team’s buy in. Create lasting clarity around who your target audience is with a tangible buyer persona.
Writing purely creative and unique content for your audience is not enough. Your marketing messaging needs to be based on data-driven information.
Having valid data and interpreting it right is crucial for success. Every time a user engages with your website, organic social media, or digital advertisements, it leaves signals that can be used for understanding behavior, preferences and attitudes of your target audience. Turning this stranger into a loyal customer is an attainable challenge with the right strategy and methodology.
Like an iceberg, behind every digital campaign we launch at Ollo Metrics, there is a complex coordination of digital marketing strategy, data analytics, media planning, platform execution, and creative development that is not easy to see at first sight.
From the very beginning, we start with who we are talking to and what problem we are solving for them. Having a very specialized, cross-functional team is how we ensure your marketing campaigns the best chance to succeed. After all, we want to reach “Athletic Alex” at the right time, in the correct place and with the perfect message.
So, what are you waiting for? Start thinking like your potential customers and develop your own buyer persona template today!
Download Ollo Metrics’ Free Target Persona Brief to get started!
This guide contains all the questions you need to answer in order to build an accurate profile of your ideal customer. Once you have a good understanding of who your target audience is, you can begin tailoring your marketing messaging to reach these individuals. And don’t forget, if you need help along the way, we’re always here to answer any questions you may have.
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