Over the years, one of the biggest challenges for businesses — small and large alike — has been understanding who customers are and what makes them tick. And while every brand has its own way of tapping into customers to gain buyer insights, the vast majority of organizations are using buyer personas to guide their marketing and sales efforts.
What are buyer personas?
Ask five people for the definition of a buyer persona and you’ll get five different answers, but one of the original and best goes like this: “Buyer personas are research-based archetypal (modeled) representations of who buyers are, what they are trying to accomplish, what goals drive their behavior, how they think, how they buy, and why they make buying decisions.”
When people think about buyer personas, their minds often jump to physical characteristics and traits — such as male or female, white or black, white collar or blue collar, etc. — but the truth is that buyer personas deal with buying behavior. In order to develop an effective persona, you’ll probably want to flesh out some physical traits, but the point is to dig down and expose buying behaviors.
Here’s why you need them
Why? That’s the question marketers often ask when confronted with the idea of developing buyer personas for their brand. Why would you spend hours developing fictional profiles when you already interact with real customers on a daily basis? Well, without buyer personas, your marketing efforts aren’t as specific and targeted as they could be. You’re wasting time, effort and money on unprofitable segments of the marketplace, while failing to fully invest in the customers that matter.
Specifically, here are reasons why you need buyer personas for your business.
1. Guides your writing
From a content marketing and blogging perspective, buyer personas are able to enhance writing and give your team some direction in how to move forward. As marketer Neil Patel puts it, “A persona gives clarity, power and passion to your writing. You will find that when you’re thinking of your persona and writing to them, your style of writing will really come alive.”
Specifically, personas allow you to write more conversationally. Instead of using generalities, you can use words, phrases and examples that they personally find more effective and powerful.
2. Informs marketing and sales strategies
Personas go much further up the organizational hierarchy than content marketing, though. They actually have the potential to shape marketing and sales strategies.
As business coach Tony Zambito says, “When researched adequately, buyer personas can illuminate who buyers are, the situations they are faced with, how they have changed, and most important — what goals they are attempting to accomplish.”
3. Enlightens social media interactions
Social media is obviously very important in modern marketing, but most businesses have very little insight into how they should interact with followers. Suddenly, when personas enter the picture, you have a much better idea of who different individuals are. Combine your knowledge with a cursory look of someone’s profile and you can have exchanges that are both effective and positive for your brand.
Instead of accidentally saying something that a particular customer may find insensitive, you can set yourself up for success by wording responses in such a way that makes them feel understood. In the long run — compounded over thousands of interactions with customers — this can totally transform your brand’s image.
4. Enhances product development
Businesses thrive on innovation and development. Unfortunately, innovation is nearly impossible when you don’t know what your customers want or need. Well, one of the neat things about buyer personas is that your knowledge of who customers are spills over into product development. This increases your chances of developing quality products that resonate with your target customers.
5. Helps your team focus
Let’s say your company has a marketing department with 10 people. Since your team is constantly working together on projects and campaigns, you may assume that everyone is on the same page. However, the reality is that every single person has their own unique view of who the target customer is. These differences may be slight, but they unintentionally exist.
Now, let’s say your team gets together and spends time developing a buyer persona. Not only are your team members forced to ask questions, debate, expose truths and bury falsities, but everyone ends up with the exact same view of who the customer is. This fundamentally transforms everything and allows your team to focus.
Don’t delay any longer
If you’re conducting a marketing campaign without the assistance of buyer personas, it’s entirely possible that you’re damaging your brand beyond repair.
While you may have an idea of who your target customers are, how can you be sure that you’re reaching them effectively if you haven’t taken the time to identify what’s important to them and what they need? Start developing buyer personas today and reap the benefits.
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