What is a Buyer Persona?
A working definition of a buyer persona: a created, aggregated representation of an ideal customer. In other words, a buyer persona can be viewed as a fictional representation of a preferred class of potential buyers. It is common for businesses to develop multiple personas when creating a marketing plan. Buyer personas are often based on real data about customer demographics including age, education, family status, online behavior. This information is combined with observations from usability tests, personal histories, known motivations and concerns of a particular segment of the target market.
Why Buyer Personas Are So Important to Marketers?
Understanding the ideal customer is critical to driving content creation, offer development and really anything that relates to customer acquisition and retention. A buyer persona is extremely useful for developing and evaluating messaging, content and offers to increase likelihood that they will resonate with your ideal customer while moving them forward in their buying process .
Buyer personas also provide valuable insights for prospecting, performing market research, targeting advertising, website design and usability testing. Buyer personas are an excellent tool for Sales and Marketing, helping them connect with their ideal customer by providing a common, focused understanding of an ideal customer’s common attributes, aspirations, motivations, challenges and concerns.
The difference between a buyer person and target market is specificity. Buyer personas are much more specific than a target market. The more specific a marketing message, piece of content and/or offer is, the higher the chances of connecting with the ideal buyer. Creating buyer personas is about honing in on a more specific class of buyer that exists in your target market, to help refine your sales strategy for that class of buyers.
Comparing a Target Market with a Buyer Persona
For example, a target market can be general as:
“moms with young kids.”
Compare that target market to the following buyer persona example:
“a busy mother, with 3 kids (ages 1,2,3), who is a stay at home mom, 26 years old and has a high school degree with some college credits, clips coupons and cares about saving money, kids’ safety, appreciates a good value and knows one when she sees it.”
A target market may have multiple buyer personas, with each persona having its own attributes, aspirations, motivations, challenges and concerns.
Creating Buyer Personas
Where Does Buyer Persona Data Come From?
Data for creating buyer personas typically comes from interviews with the sale team, marketing interviews with current and prospective clients in their business environment, customer surveys and focus groups. While conducting these interviews, the marketer will usually see patterns emerge. These patterns are the foundation for creating buyer personas.
The qualitative and quantitative data collected is then used to paint a picture of what an ideal client looks like, what they value, what their primary/secondary motivations are and how to offer them solution that satisfies these. Usability testing data can be another great source of buyer persona input, especially as it relates marketing online.
This information can be combined with data obtained through third party market research to create laser-focused buyer personas helping ensure that sales and marketing hit the bulls-eye more often.
Tip: When creating buyer personas, marketers should include input from both “satisfied” and “dis-satisfied” customers as this will yield more representative buyer personas.
How to Use Buyer Personas?
Buyer personas are a tool that marketers use focus marketing and advertising efforts. Once all the research is done and all of the interviews have been conducted and the buyer personas are created, now it’s time to communicate this buyer persona to all organizations, and in particular, the customer-facing organizations. Buyer personas should reviewed Sales, Marketing, Customer Service and Product Management teams so that everyone is on the same page with respect to messaging and communications.
Using buyer personas ensure message consistency while amplifying the key themes through continual reinforcement. Using a buyer persona template can be a great mechanism to communicate buyer personas consistently within and across organizations. If Sales, Marketing, Customer Service and Product Management teams don’t understand who they are seeking and trying speaking to, it’s hard to craft and deliver a consistent message that will resonate with their ideal customer.
Buyer Persona Example
Sometimes an example can be a great way to reinforce a complex concept like buyer personas.
Name: Molly Marketer
Photo: Using a photo is a create way to personality and impact by providing a face to reinforce the persona
User Background: Molly works for a medium-sized technology company and has worked her way up to Director of Marketing from marketing intern over the last 10 years. Molly runs a lean marketing team which is constantly being asked to do for more with less. Molly has a BS in marketing with a minor in communications and understand the shifting media landscape which is evolving from offline, especially print, to online and in particular, mobile.
Urbanicity: Molly, her company and marketing team are located in a tier 2 market and look to do business locally whenever possible.
Income: Annual income of $90,000 with bonuses tied to achieving goals with upside ranging from 0-$40,000, depending on revenue and profit performance.
Age Range: 32-40
Home Ownership: Long-time renter, recent home buyer
Children: Molly is married has two you children who are in daycare M-F except when an unexpected illness keeps Molly home with them.
Employment Level: Currently Director of Marketing
Education: Molly has a BS in Marketing from a State University with a minor in Business Communications. Molly is currently evaluating MBA programs with the only hesitation being have sufficient free time to complete without short changing her current position and personal life.
Attitudes: Molly prefers to get things done as soon as possible. In fact, she would rather close out small action items by performing them or delegating them as they arise as opposed to writing them down on a to-do or assignment list. She values the opinions and contributions of her lean marketing team and encourages her team members to take calculated, educated risks in efforts to grow sales while maximizing marketing ROI. Molly does not punish her team members for mistakes they make but does not expect team members to make the same mistakes twice. Molly has high expectations of herself and her team and understands the importance of making sure the broader organization (those outside of marketing) understands their contributions.
Challenges: Like most marketing organizations today, Molly is consistency being asked to do more with less. The rising costs of benefits, especially healthcare, has forced Molly’s company to reduce work force through natural attrition and one of lost positions was on Molly’s marketing team.
Molly’s advertising budgets are under constant scrutiny with management expectations of being able to tie advertising investments to sales and ROI. Molly’s team is proficient in print, radio, outdoor and other traditional offline marketing channels but lacks experience with the digital marketing channels offering increased media efficiency and more accurate ROI tracking.
Interests: Molly likes to travel, dine out and spend as much quality time as she can with her young family. Like many, Molly often struggles to balance work and personal responsibilities and use of technology manage this balance. Molly doesn’t go anywhere without her iPhone and enjoys the perks of her position. She is willing to trade some personal time now in exchange for advancement opportunities.
Aspirations: Molly has aspirations to become CMO, then possibly CEO of her company, perhaps even starting her own company should the situation fit in with her personal responsibilities. Molly is committed to retiring young enough to be able to enjoy retirement within a lifestyle she has come to appreciate.
Remember, buyer personas can help you focus on finding your ideal customers while avoiding wasting time on those less of a fit for your offer. Creating them is a ongoing, continual process much like creating a business or marketing plan.
Like a marketing plan, buyer personas must be captured in a clear, consistent manner to be effective. For creating buyer personas, the key is to not avoid due to being overwhelmed with the concept. Start with what you already know based on your existing customer/prospect interactions and then progressively elaborate your buyer personas as you learn more.
If you would like to learn more on how buyer personas can benefit your marketing efforts. contact us. We welcome the interaction.
Additional Buyer Persona Resources
Search Marketing: Insights on keyword research and customer personas – Daniel Burstein, MECLABS; Christina Brownlee, One Call Now; Jacob Baldwin, One Call Now
- What is a buyer persona? | Buyer Persona Institute
- Persona Worksheet – iAcquire [xls download with persona template with examples]
- Content Marketing: Targeted persona strategy lifts sales leads 124% | Marketing Sherpa
- How to Create Customer Personas That Make an Impact | ClickZ
- Keyword-Driven Personas – Whiteboard Friday | SEOmoz