What Is a Buyer Persona, and Why Is It Important to Your Marketing Strategy?

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You are confident that your marketing plan is solid or at least heading in the right direction. But you’ve also heard an awful lot about incorporating buyer personas into the strategy. For those who may be asking “What is a buyer persona?” or wondering how to leverage them for your marketing efforts, keep reading. We’ll help make the formal introduction and provide a guide to help you navigate, create, and tap into your company’s buyer personas for the best results.

What Is a Buyer Persona, Anyway?

Let’s start with the basic definitions. Buyer personas are fictional characters that you create. Each represents your actual (and ideal) customers. But the persona goes far beyond entry-level demographics. The buyer persona is a mirror image of your perfect clients, down to how they spend their free time at home, what role they occupy at work, and how they make purchasing decisions. Some companies have one or two buyer personas, while other companies have portfolios of them. And the buyer persona dynamics may always be shifting, as well.

Why Companies Need to Create Buyer Personas

Now that you can answer the question, what can these semi-fictional characters on paper actually do to help your business? By outlining a description of your target audience, with buyer persona-driven precision, you can then design your marketing plan around reaching and acquiring that audience. Having a roster of personas can help you focus your marketing efforts and timelines to reaching those ideal prospects. It can also help ensure every layer of your marketing and sales process remains consistent and dedicated to speaking the language of and meeting the needs of that buyer persona. You’ll find your leads become more high-value and your engagements more productive.

How to Identify Your Ideal Customer

If you’re not clear about where to even begin carving out your company’s buyer personas, then start with your existing client base. Look for similarities among your best customers first. Then you can scroll through your prospect lists, looking for those current client characteristics. Consider creating forms or landing pages within your website to ask for persona-based information. Talk to your sales teams about their generalizations and the diversity of prospects. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to your best clients and interview them directly about their decision-making preferences. All of the data can help you identify the details for your first and most targeted buyer persona.

How to Create Your Company Buyer Persona

You may not have all the data you want, but the organically collected details you have will help you start the buyer persona creation process. Follow these steps:

1. Start by listing the basic demographics.

For example, is your target decision-maker a woman between the ages of 25 and 54? Does she have a college degree or carry a certification specific to accounting, maybe? Start with identifying the basic details that might describe your ideal prospect.

2. Then list what you’ve learned about your character’s motivations.

Will she make decisions based on saving money or out of product necessity? Is your ideal customer buying from you out of convenience, price, or efficiency? Look to your existing customer base and reflect on what brought each of them to ultimately do business with you.

3. Ask yourself, based on what you know so far about this ideal client, what is the problem that only you can solve?

Whether you offer a customer-to-customer service or business-to-business product, your buyer persona should have a need, a pain point, or a problem that you are uniquely qualified to satisfy.

4. With this list, discuss an ideal pitch with your direct sales team.

Help them visualize what this persona needs to hear, see, and have presented to them. Do some role-playing and use quotes from actual customer interviews or rebuttals. Your client-facing team members will be armed with new insight on how to engage your ideal target audience authentically.

Transcend Your Buyer Persona Data Across All Marketing Touch Points

Use your buyer persona details as you review every marketing touchpoint your business uses. Look to ensure your website has a clear path — from home page visit to purchase — that speaks to your ideal buyer. Your website language should speak to your buyer persona’s needs. Every point of advertising should also be consistent in tone, messaging, and problem-solving. Any other message will only dilute your efforts and cause you to lose momentum in your marketing and branding strategy.

Be Flexible and Adapt Accordingly

You may be in a business that speaks to more than one buyer persona. You’ll, of course, want to then carve out separate strategies for each one. And you can design a strategy that allows you to continually collect customer characteristics and buying behavior samples. Be flexible about making changes to your personas and adding new characters to your lineup if you need to do so. Always be looking to learn more about who your target audience is, and you’ll find that you’re adapting to meet those dynamic customer needs.

The Toothpaste Example

As an example, let’s consider toothpaste. Everyone uses toothpaste, and you might say there is a general need for everyone to buy it when they run out at home. Toothpaste companies drive a series of commercials and advertising efforts across their various personas. For the busy moms and dads, the toothpaste television commercial will show a brand being a kid-friendly flavor that makes brushing time easier for parents. For millennials, the ads are about teeth whitening, brightening smiles, or landing the job interview, and those ads are driven heavily among social media channels.

Having your own buyer personas can help you bring precision to your marketing and advertising efforts. Your messaging will be more empathetic, and your leads will also be more qualified. Also, if efficiency is your goal, having buyer personas will be more cost-effective over time. Your spending will be focused on conversions. If you’re still not sure how buyer personas can apply to your business, or you need help getting started, contact us! We can help you develop the personas you need to maintain consistency, save money, and bring in more business.

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Kelly Franks

Kelly Franks has over 10 years of experience with multichannel internet marketing, specializing in content marketing, copywriting, social media marketing, search engine optimization, and pay ­per click advertising. She has been a regular contributor to the Citizens' Voice Newspaper and has developed numerous promotional campaigns to successfully maximize the visibility of both online and storefront businesses.

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