Do you know who’s buying your products or services? Some small businesses waste enormous amounts of time and money marketing to faceless crowds, only to find that their sales fall consistently short of their expectations. Taking the time to create an effective buyer persona is a proven way to figure out exactly who your customers are so you can target your marketing strategy accordingly. Once you understand who purchases, and is likely to purchase from you, your small business will be primed to maximize its advertising return-on-investment.
What is a Buyer Persona?
A buyer persona is an accurate and detailed description of who your core customer is. It sums up your individual clients as a group by bundling their habits and personalities into one sweeping narrative. A buyer persona serves as a highly effective marketing tool because it takes into account such relevant information as your customer’s:
- Profession, location, age, and income (demographics)
- Motivations, challenges, and buying behaviors (psychographics)
Once you have a clear understanding of who your customer is in terms of their purchasing needs and concerns, you can better focus your marketing toward them - and perhaps even more importantly, toward potential customers just like them.
You may discover along the way that your customers fall into more than one main category, and that’s okay. Depending on its size, your company could have one or multiple buyer personas, and the details you gather about each will help you to segment and tailor your advertising as efficiently as possible.
Most buyer personas are created from a combination of market research into your industry as a whole and from the information you glean from your own customer data. Some of the most valuable data-gathering techniques include:
- customer interviews and surveys,
- special offers connected to website forms, and
- analyses of your clients’ buying trends
Let’s look at a very simplified example of a buyer persona for a fictional fitness club called U-Fit. This persona was created from data-gathering practices like the ones we’ve described.
Tracy Treadmill is a 20-something single female and a full-time professional. She lives in the downtown core of a major city and likes to keep up with the latest trends. Tracy Treadmill earns a decent income, but her leisure time is limited. Despite the fact that she’s always busy, Tracy Treadmill’s appearance is very important to her. She appreciates convenience and results and is willing to pay for both.
If this were the buyer persona for your business, you’d probably recognize right away that the majority of your clients are far more interested in quality and convenience than they are about saving money. Rather than decimating your precious marketing budget with ads that offer great deals on membership fees, you might want to consider taking your online presence, social media content, print ads, and in-store advertising in a different direction.
You could try highlighting the convenience of your fitness club’s location or operating hours. Alternatively, you might want to emphasize the fact that U-Fit features all the latest fitness equipment. Remember, the more information you can collect about your clients and would-be clients, the more applicable and profitable your marketing strategy will be.
Now that we have a better idea of what a buyer persona is, here are the three biggest reasons why your company needs to create one:
1. Find new customers by tailoring your marketing to a targeted audience
It should be clear by now that the better you understand your ideal customer, the more effective your marketing tactics will be. When your sales department has a defined set of personality traits and purchasing beliefs that characterize the customers who already buy from you, their interactions with potential new customers will be that much more successful. In other words, a well-researched buyer persona can be a very effective instrument for turning prospects into leads and leads into clients. Every consumer has a desire they want to see fulfilled. Once you know how to best appeal to that desire, your marketing ROI should rise accordingly.
2. Hold onto current customers by introducing new and valuable services
A large part of marketing success comes from knowing when to sell to the right person at the right time, and an effective buyer persona can play a huge role in making that happen. Is your business looking for a fresh approach that will attract more customers? Perhaps you’d like to launch an innovative new product or service. Your company’s buyer persona can help you to:
- overhaul and upgrade your existing offerings to be even more appealing to your buying demographic
- initiate brand new ideas by revealing customer problems or challenges that aren’t being successfully addressed in the marketplace
3. Convert customers into promoters by better understanding their needs
Happy customers have a very good chance of turning into great promoters for your business, which can ultimately lead to more happy customers. Make sure that every member of your team, from your customer service reps to your accounting personnel, is fully aware of exactly what makes your customers tick. The better your business as a whole understands and successfully responds to your clients’ needs and problems, the higher your customer satisfaction, retention, and promotion rates will be.