Buyer personas get thrown around so often that many people consider them unimportant. Maybe it’s the fact that they’ve never seen the benefit or seen one in action, or that they see the act of coming up with personas with funny names like “Sally Sales” to be a bit useless.
We’re here to tell you that buyers personas are as important as ever! They help you create targeted messaging to your main target audiences, rather than lumping them all into the same category. Once you create your personas, you’ll see use cases for them everywhere in your marketing strategy.
We’ll discuss why personas are important, how to create them, and how to use them.
Why Create a Buyer Persona?
Buyer personas, as Hubspot defines it, are “semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.”
These personas are defined by:
But why create them in the first place if you already know your customers? Well, often times you really don’t know them as well as you should.
This is where customer research comes in. Yes, that means you have to actually talk to your customers! It’s surprising just how many businesses out there don’t do this.
But before we jump into exactly how to make the persona, let’s continue on with why you need them.
Personas help you create targeted messaging and content that appeals to your audience groups. Let’s use an example to illustrate.
Bob’s Landscaping has two main customer groups: Commercial buildings and residential single-family homes. Now both of these groups are not really wanting the same thing.
A commercial building owner is never going to go out and landscape their properties. They need someone who is reliable, works within the time frame, and is courteous of building visitors.
A home owner is going to want a landscaper if they have too much on their plate to worry about the yard. Sure, they can do the landscaping themselves, but they have better things to do like spend time with their family, or maybe they have a long vacation coming up.
Notice how the messaging and pain points differ for these two audiences. Bob, at first, saw his audience as anyone needing landscaping. Now he sees two distinct groups with different needs.
How to Create a Buyer Persona
Now, here is where we get into the nitty gritty. This will involve you calling up or meeting with customers. You should have some open ended questions in mind to get them to speak freely. You don’t want just one word answers.
Here are a few questions to get you started (provided by Customerdevlabs.com)
1. What’s the hardest part about [problem context] ?
2. Can you tell me about the last time that happened?
3. Why was that hard?
4. What, if anything, have you done to solve that problem?
5. What don’t you love about the solutions you’ve tried?
In Bob’s case, let’s say he interviews a homeowner and gets these responses:
- The hardest part about keeping up the yard is all the other responsibilities I have. I can’t do it before work, and after work I’m just so tired. I tell myself I’ll do it on the weekends, and I just can never find time. I know I can do it, I just find so many other things to do instead.
- Just last week I was supposed to pull weeds and mow the lawn, but it never happened.
- I had a big project at work and ended up doing about 60 hours. When the weekend came, all I wanted to do was relax on the couch.
- I’ve tried other lawn care companies but they’re not reliable. I ask them to come every 2 weeks and it’s very inconsistent. They also don’t follow all my instructions. The last company pulled out the wrong flowers!
- All the companies seem the same, they show up when they want and leave whenever. I don’t feel like they feel that they’re held accountable for their work or when they show up. I haven’t found a company yet that does this.
Here is the fictional persona Bob created for his homeowner audience:
- Has a family
- Works a full time, salaried job with long hours
- Likes to spend the weekends relaxing
- Has the money to pay for a lawn care company but needs someone reliable
- Wants a nice looking yard and knows he can do the work, but just can’t find the time
How to use the Persona
These responses (although fictional) are full of gold! Bob now knows that a huge pain point of homeowners, at least this one, is that they want to work on their lawn but are too tired to do so. When they go out to get a lawn care company, they don’t trust them to get the work done.
Now Bob, after interviewing a few more homeowners, is able to reword his marketing message to appeal to these direct pain points and to market his company as reliable and trustworthy. He puts in place a checklist that all homeowners receive after service, so they can see just what was done to their yard. He also adds a guarantee that if the company doesn’t show up on the date specified, you get a free servicing the next day.
Bob now goes back and interviews his commercial customers and creates another persona to better target his marketing.
Buyer personas are not the bad guy, they’re not useless, they may use funny names, but they’re supposed to be fictional caricatures of your actual customers. They help you identify and think through what an actual customer wants from your business and how to you can best address that through your content and strategy.
It’s a very useful tool that can only help you! Try it and see what new ideas you can come up with for your customers.