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What is a buyer persona?

What is a buyer persona

If your targeting is all over the place, your returns will be minimal. For example, if you sell powerful laptops for designers, your target audience should be people with a graduate degree between the ages of 25 and 50 who work as a designer in a startup or a corporate setup. If your ads are targeted towards an audience in TikTok, then it will be difficult to create conversions. This is where having a buyer persona comes into place. When you know who your audience exactly are, it is easier to send them the right messaging and use the right channel.

What is a buyer persona?

It is a fictional representation of your ideal customer based on various factors. They include inputs from customer demographics, behaviour, motivations, goals, data of existing customers, data from competitor’s customers, research, etc.

You can cover most of your audience with the help of 1-7 buyer personas without introducing too many distinctions in the user types. Once you create your user persona after detailed consideration, they should display behavior different from the rest of the visitors and should represent a sizeable volume of your users. Each of these personas should constitute at least 7-10% of your overall user base, with exceptions being made for converting segment(s) which tend to be a smaller percentage of the overall user base.

A buyer persona helps you in each stage of the customer journey. It will help your business understand where to concentrate your efforts on. Creating customer personas is a time consuming process. The process involves conducting research, collating the data, analyzing it and crafting the persona with the details in hand.

The time spent on creating personas is based largely on its size. Based on this research, they spent around 22.5 to 77.5 hours while large companies spent anywhere between 55 to 102.5 staff hours to create empirical data based personas. Note: Organizations with less than 500 employees are considered small companies and anything more than that are large companies, in this study.

Also called a customer or marketing persona, they bring you closer to the client like no other.

Benefits of creating a buyer persona:

Understanding the motivations of your customer is critical. If you take the time to do it, you will be rewarded sufficiently. But if there is no clarity on who your ideal customer is, your targeting and your efforts to improve your buyer experiences will suffer.

benefits of buyer personas by Delve AI

1. Understanding your ideal customer:

Buyer personas give you immense clarity on your existing as well as prospective customers. You will be able to gauge why they do what they do. Helps you connect with them better by understanding their habits, shopping methods, customer journey, pain points and so on.

2. Marketing Segmentation:

Person A who is your customer might have completely different characteristics to person B who is also a customer. Understanding their motivations towards purchasing your product helps in segmenting these customers. With buyer personas, you can create customized messages to both A and B. This helps in forging stronger relationships.

3. Overcoming sales objections:

When you know why someone needs your product, it becomes much easier to overcome any objections that they put in front of you. This way, your sales scripts will be much more convincing. Being aware of their motivations and needs will help you persuade your prospects to turn into customers more easily.

4. Knowledge where your customers spend time:

In marketing, every aspect of your customer becomes something that you can use as leverage. Once you understand who your real customer is, it will help you unearth where they spend most of their time online. Helps you discover how they gather information during the Consideration stage of the buying process.

5. Find qualified leads:

Refining your buyer persona helps you target the right audience. So the ones who don’t make the cut will not get in touch with you, and that’s a good thing. Not everyone is your customer. When your marketing department does laser-focused targeting the leads you will get will be highly qualified. You can make a personal connection with the incoming leads with various types of content. Create a lead nurturing program targeted at different personas.

Still not sure if it makes sense to invest your time in creating buyer personas? Here are a few stats which will make you think otherwise:

The above stats are compelling reasons for you to invest in creating buyer personas for your brand.

How to create a buyer persona:

Even if you think your target audience is homogeneous, there would be few variations. Like how we said earlier, there are at least 3-4 buyer personas for every business. Here is a small example. Let’s say your target audience are students and executives who can afford an expensive smartphone.

John, 20, is an undergraduate at an Ivy league school. He already uses an expensive smartphone. You can expect him to be active on channels like Instagram, Facebook, participate in contests, and so on.

Steve, 45, is a well-paid executive in a Fortune 500 company. He uses only expensive items and is particular about the brand of the smartphone he uses. While he would be interested to know about the benefits of the mobile phone, you should position your product as aspirational for him to be interested. Creating a communication strategy where you tell the prospective customer that having your smartphone is a sign of luxury and class would tilt his interest in your favor.

Your marketing message needs to be different for both of these buyer personas. The tone and voice totally depend on who they are, the challenges they face and how you plan to solve it specifically for them.

Buyer personas should be a result of your internal and external research. Choose one target customer and create a persona with information that you already have. You can find out details about your customers by asking them questions.

Internal Research:

To find out your customer persona, you need as much information as possible. Here is some of the internal research that you can do:

  • Read industry articles about today’s consumers
  • Determine how and from where your customers arrive at your website
  • Talk to competitors who might be willing to share their inputs
  • Use keyword research to find out how customers are searching for your product

External Research:

To get a complete picture of your customers, here are some of the details that you can get from your prospects.

Demographics data:

Getting demographic information of your customers is a great way to get a clearer picture of them. After you get their basic details like name and address, you can ask the following questions.

  • Where are you from?
  • Are you married?
  • What gender do they identify themselves as?
  • What is your annual household income?
  • Do you have children? Which school are they going to?

By using the answers to the above question, you can easily divide them into different groups already.

Education and career:

  • What is your level of education?
  • Which college did you attend?
  • What was your career trajectory like?
  • Is your work in line with the degree they possess?
  • Have you switched industries?
  • Who are your employers?

Industry:

  • Which industry are they in?
  • Who are their clients?
  • What services/products do they offer?
  • Knowing who their clients are can help you position your offering in a better way.
  • How many employees does it have?

Role:

  • What is your role at the company?
  • Do you manage other people?
  • How long have you been at this job?
  • Who is your boss?
  • Who reports to you?

This information can be used for both B2C and B2B clients. If you are a B2C company, you can use this information to refine your customer persona.

If you’re a B2B company, it becomes much easier to target as you understand the person(s) involved in the decision making at the company that you are trying to rope in as a client. Often, there are multiple people involved in the decision making process at organizations when making purchases. So, having both the views – one from treating the entire organization as a single buyer with its characteristics captured in the buyer persona, as well as the personas representing individual roles such as initiator, user, influencer and buyer are useful depending on the context that the persona is being used for.

KPIs:

  • What are your KPIs?
  • What are the things you are responsible for?
  • Which are the graphs or charts that you need to take a look at every day as a part of your job?
  • What forms a part of your routine at the workplace? This should include the minor tasks that you do.

Skills required:

  • What are the skills required to be good at your job?
  • What is your Job Description like?
  • Did they learn these skills through your degree, by taking courses or on the job?
  • What are the tools you use every day?
  • What problems do these tools solve?
  • How can a solution like ours help you?
  • Are you working with our competitors X, Y or Z? If yes, how is it working with them?
  • Do they solve all of your pain points?
  • If there is one reason for you to work with a different vendor, what would it be?
  • What do you value most about this solution?

Some of the other questions that you can ask are- 1. How do they consume information? 2. Which trade or industry associations are they a part of? 3. How do they search for information to find out about tools like yours? 4. What is their evaluation process like?

The answers to the above questions will give you a wealth of information that you can use when targeting customers. Not all the questions might be relevant for your business. If a question isn’t relevant, feel free to change them according to your needs.

How to find prospects for researching buyer personas:

This is a crucial part of the process. You will have to interview many people to understand the motivations of your would-be customers. Here are some of the sources you can leverage:

Existing Customer Base:

This list is the easiest to get information from and most importantly, the insights that you get from here are more valuable. Because many of these customers are already a part of your buyer persona. They have engaged with your product and are better equipped to tell you why your product was a failure or a success for them.

Don’t just talk to the customers who loved your product. Make it a point to spend more time with people who didn’t have a good experience. It will help you unearth flaws in your product/service that you can work on. You might even be able to understand that the ones who didn’t like your product because they thought it was too technical for them. This is solid feedback for you to work on to make your product as simple as possible.

Prospects that you target:

Your current prospects are a good bet too as you already have their contact information with you. Distinguish your prospects based on how far they are in their buying decision. Someone who is in the Consideration stage is much more valuable than someone at the Awareness stage. Using the present data that you have about them, find out how exactly they are fit to be a part of your customer persona.

Hire 3rd party services that help:

There are many third-party websites which will help you with user testing. Although this might not get you closer to your target audience, it is helpful if you want to do some quick understanding of your customers. You can also use services like Fiverr, Freelancer, UpWork, etc, to help with this.

Referrals:

Good old referrals are one more way for you to get closer to your audience. Reach out to folks in your network who would be able to direct you to people who wouldn’t mind getting on an interview and are closer to your target audience. Searching on LinkedIn for professionals who are closest to your customer persona might help too.

Tips to get maximum feedback:

When people are ready to spend time answering questions for you, it is your duty to make it easy for them to respond to you. Ensure that the questions are easy and in a format that doesn’t take too much of their time.

  • Incentivize the respondents by offering them gift cards, coupon codes, free consultation, etc, if you take up more than 30 minutes of their time.
  • Make sure that the interaction is two-sided. Let them know that the questions are used for your internal research.
  • Be willing to accommodate to their timings so that the interaction can be done easily.
  • If they don’t prefer telephone interactions, send them a survey where they can answer the questions
  • Be clear about the timelines
  • Look for patterns. It will show up after you speak to a sizeable number of people.
  • Do not assume. Ask questions. Probe.

We are sure that these tips will help you in getting crystal clear answers that will help you further refine your customer persona. Collating all the answers and grouping them based on it will help you to come up with at least 3-4 buyer personas who you should target to.

Formulate your customer persona:

Once you have all of this information, you will be able to create your first buyer persona. How?

By finding 3-4 personalities who are your ideal customers. They need to be divided into these categories based on a specific set of traits. These traits should be a common denominator among your targeted customer base.

Create a one-page document for each persona. After you have your first persona, you could ask more questions to different sets of customers. Also, your buyer persona can evolve as you get to know more details about your customers.

The first rule about customer persona is to never assume. You might have had a 50+ aged audience who were your ideal customers, but since you targeted only millenials, you never got to convert the former while the latter didn’t care about your product which ended in poor sales for you.

Identifying a buyer persona completely changes the problem of wrong targeting for you. It helps you save a lot of money spent on marketing as well as on your communications.

The buyer persona that you have right now isn’t final It will go through iterations over the years. Why? Because your business will change based on the demand and your customers will shift preferences as well.

Quantitative methods to create/refine your customer persona:

Quantitative methods that enable frequent updates and data inputs at scale can also be used as complementary means to generate/refine your user/buyer personas. In an era of rapidly changing user behavior, “live” personas that are updated frequently are needed to understand shifts in consumer behavior, their evolving needs over time and detect anomalies/changes as they happen.

Such quantitative data-driven approaches, such as those used by Live Persona and Competitor Persona products from Delve AI, enable rapid generation and frequent updates of personas and use data at scale.

Applications of Buyer Persona:

applications of buyer personas

In Marketing & Communication:

When you do not know who exactly your target audience is, the tendency is to try to sell your offerings to everyone. A lack of clarity on who your ideal customer (read customer persona) forces you to think that a one-size-fits-all strategy works. You couldn’t be more wrong. Knowing your customer persona helps you to tune your marketing efforts towards getting the attention of these people. This way, your marketing is not only targeted to the right customers, but it also enables you to get qualified leads.

You might have noticed this too. Every single marketing theory talks about personalizing your offerings to your target market. Buyer personas help you do the same by bracketing your users based on their behaviours, needs and motivation.

With a clear picture of who you want to target, your marketing communication becomes targeted to the specific audience too. Someone who is not fitting the bill of an ideal customer will not feel enthused reading your marketing copy as it doesn’t apply to them. It’s a good thing. Not everyone can be your customer. Getting the right ones to engage with your copy is beneficial to everyone.

In Product Management:

Product Managers (PM) can use buyer persona to represent the different users of a product. They should make decisions about who their ideal customers are, their requirements and how their product will solve the pain points of their customers. For this, they need to find who their ideal customers are based on which they need to create the product.

Segmenting customers into different groups helps product managers to create a solution that has specific features which cater to each customer persona. When PMs know who their customers are, they would be able to empathize with their struggles and the challenges they face. Knowing this will give them a better perspective in dishing out a product that matters to its target market.

When you are developing a product, there are minutiae of things that are a part of developing a product. During this time, it is highly possible for PMs to lose focus of the bigger goal which is to develop a product for the end customer that solves all their pain points. Whenever this focus is lost, having the buyer personas in front of you makes it possible to get back on track.

In UI/UX:

While personas are fictional, it is developed to cater to the needs of real users. If the UI/UX designer doesn’t know the kind of audience they are catering to, the designing might go wrong. UX designers need to understand the user’s journey to imagine how they will think, feel and act. This is how they will be able to create designs that touch a chord with the user.

Understanding the values of your buyer persona helps you in crafting designs that would resonate with them deeply. UX persona claims to understand the hopes, aspirations, and fears of the audience so that you can market to them properly with design solutions that exactly fit their needs.

A persona in UI/UX makes the design process simple and helps to create a good UX for the target users by keeping them in mind during each step of the process.

Conclusion:

Buyer personas are not just the foundation for you to target your prospects better or increase your bottom line. It is much more than that. Defining buyer personas help you create a product or service that your customers find suitable. It gets you closer to your audience not only in terms of marketing but with respect to understanding their needs.

After developing your buyer persona, ensure that the message is passed to your design, development, marketing and sales team. All of these stakeholders are affected by this new revelation. Positively at that. The number of conversions that you usually get will look like a wimp in front of the new rate, thanks to targeting buyer personas.

Once you’ve established your buyer persona, your employees will also be careful about the kind of brand voice that they need to employ for each persona. Finding buyer personas is certainly not easy. It involves doing a lot of research, interviewing people, sifting through their answers, developing documents, following new processes, and more. But all of this will pay off big time.

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