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How to Develop a Buyer Persona

How to Develop a Buyer Persona

Do you find yourself chucking random content out into the stratosphere, hoping that someone out there might engage with it… click on it… visit your website and ultimately buy whatever it is you are selling? If so… you’re likely wasting your time.

Your potential customers are not random people… they are your people. If they have a problem… you’re here to provide the solution. The key point to remember when marketing any business is …it is not about you… it is about them. Sorry … I know this can be painful to hear.

If you want your people to engage with your business (which hint hint you do) then you need to first look at who they are, so you can work out how to reach them and how to relate to them.

Buyer personas are designed for this very purpose. They are all about helping you to understand your customers and get to know them on a deep personal level so you can communicate with them effectively in your marketing.

What is a Buyer Persona?

A buyer persona is a representation of your ideal customer. It is important to take note of the keyword “ideal”, as we have all dealt with those “not so ideal” customers, who end up costing our business more than they are worth. You all know the ones I mean. Their names remain etched in the back of your mind until the end of eternity. You most certainly do not want to target them in your marketing. Let them be your competitor’s problem.

You may already have target audiences, which can be segmented based on demographics and so forth, but they are far more generalised. You can use your segmented target markets to create several buyer personas, representing each of your target groups. Unlike target audiences, buyer personas are like a fictional customer… based on real live customers. Like the way movies are based on real live events… except not that loosely.

It is therefore useful to give your buyer persona a name, a photo, and some personal details about their lives. I know some business owners that talk about their personas like they are actual friends, who swing by for a coffee. Possibly a good way to explain why you talk to yourself when working at home alone.

Example: For a Health Food Business

Sarah is a 38 year old massage therapist, who lives on her family farm in the WA Wheatbelt with her husband and two kids. Running her at-home business, looking after her two girls, keeping the house tidy for clients visiting her home and helping out on the farm takes up all of Sarah’s time. While health is important to her, and she wants to set a good example for the girls, time constraints have meant Sarah’s health has taken a back seat,  leaving her feeling pretty uncomfortable in her own skin.
She used to enjoy playing for the local hockey team, and doing yoga early in the morning, but now feels completely exhausted from her busy lifestyle.
In the evening she lies on the couch and catches up with friends on Facebook, read news articles and scrolls hastily past all the videos and posts about health and fitness, which only feed her guilt and shame over not taking care of herself better. Sarah just wishes there was a way for her to eat better, without expensive meal plans, complicated recipes or false promises.

What Info Do You Need

When developing you buyer persona, you have to consider what information you need to know about your customers. You should consider a range of characteristics including:

Demographics

How old are they? Where do they live/work? What is their occupation? How much do they earn? How educated are they? Are they married? Do they have kids? If so, how many?

Lifestyle

What kind of personality do they have? Are they carefree? Do they suffer from poor health? Are they self-motivated? Where do they source their news from? Who do they trust? Do they have any hobbies or interests? What are they?

Preferences

What inspires of motivates them? What are their personal goals? Their passions, values, objections, dislikes? How do they respond to disappointment? What are their major pain points?

Occupation

Are they employed? What is their status of employment (full-time, part-time, casual), how long have they been in the same role? What is their work ethic like? How big is the company they work for? What industry? What are their career goals?

Online Activity

How often are they online? Do they go online from their mobile or desktop? What do they get up to online?

Social Media

What social media networks do they use? What social media networks do they prefer? What do they dislike? How do they like to consume content (i.e. do they prefer short-form messages like Tweets, long-form written articles, videos and so on).

All the information you gather will give you a better understanding of your customer’s needs, who they are and how you can speak to them in your marketing. It will help you to determine which format of content to create, where to share it, what tone and style to use.

When gathering this information, it is useful to think about the relevance to your business but remember some details that may not seem all that relevant now can actually be rather useful. For example… if you’re a fitness instructor you might focus on pain points surrounding fitness such as lack of time to work out, no gym nearby, a dislike of working out in public etc. But while seemingly unrelated… the fact your customer is a working mum is also very relevant as it means they have work and kids to fit into their very tight schedules, and you can appeal to them on this level with your quick, 20-minute workouts they can do from the comfort of their living room.

There is also absolutely no point writing a 2000-word blog and distributing on Facebook, if you’re customers would prefer to read a 10-word tweet on Twitter. It would be an utter waste of time and money… and nobody wants that. It would be just as unhelpful to advertise overseas if all your customers and potential customers are based locally. You need to know everything you can about your customers so you can determine when they are likely to be interacting with your business, products and services, where and how they would like to do that, where they find out about similar products and services to yours, what really sticks in their craw (so you can help solve that issue for them) and how they respond to that (so you can show empathy for their problem), the way they like to consume content (read, view, listen), what might prevent them from purchasing your product, whether they are a decision maker in their business/family or whether they have any influence over making those decisions and what kind of message you could present to them to reach them on an emotional level.

How Do You Find It?

Primary Data

You can gather data “firsthand” through methods such as interviews, surveys and discussions. A simple way to find out about your customers is to ask them! You can do surveys and interviews face-to-face, online, via email or phone. Or you can pay someone else to gather this information for you. Don’t disregard information you already know, especially if you’ve been in business for a while. We’ve all had those customers that love a good chat. Take note of what they are saying. It can give you valuable insight.

Secondary Data

Secondary Data is information you can source from outside of your business. There are many annual, industry and government reports out there that will tell you valuable information about your clients. Consider government statistics, particular when it comes to demographics (Australian Bureau of Statistics is a good place to start), Industry Reports (such as those available through IBISWorld) and annual reports from specific groups within your industry.

If your business is already active on social media… don’t forget to check out the insights on each of your social media platforms. It provides information about demographics (such as age, location and gender) as well as how well your posts are performing (and therefore topics your customers are interested in and how they like to consume their information). There are quite a number of tools out there which give your in-depth insights into your own business and your competitors and many offer a free trial period (so make the most of it!). These insights come from social media as well as websites. Alternatively, you can always go onto your competitor’s social media platforms and do some research of your own. Take note of how many people are liking, commenting and sharing their posts, and which content they respond to the most. If you have a small business with a relatively small customer base, you could take a look at some of their profiles which will give you an overview of where they live, their current and previous work and education, family and relationship status, as well as their interests.

Running a business is a lot of work! We get it! If you need help developing a buyer persona, doing market research or with any other aspects of your marketing… get in touch. We’d love to help you out.

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