defining your audience through personas

whether you’re starting a new business or just looking to increase your current client base, buyer personas can be a handy tool to have in your back pocket when making decisions on everything from social media marketing to inventory, content and services offered.

a buyer persona helps you to really cement the identity of your perfect buyer, audience or client in your mind, so that you’re no longer making decisions based on a vague idea of who your customer base is, you’re making informed decisions based on a firm grasp of who you cater to as a business.

you’ll probably eventually develop multiple buyer personas for your business, and that’s perfectly fine. Most established businesses have around four or five, though, if your audience is very niche, less is fine, too. Take a look at the personas you perfectly serve currently, and then try to see where you can grow your offerings to reach even more personas in an equally perfect way. If you speak with your marketing team, you’ll also be able to determine what exactly your business is currently doing to reach, draw in and retain certain individuals.

at the base level, a buyer persona is much like a stereotype. If you can fit a buyer, client or audience member perfectly into a box, that means they fit a buyer persona. However, you can’t just tick off a few squares to determine your company’s buyer personas, because you, as an existing company, most likely already have a buyer persona, without even knowing it. By just being in business, your current services and content already fit a particular persona perfectly. Now, all you have to do is figure out what that particular persona is, which can be a somewhat arduous task, if you don’t know where to start.

not convinced yet?

  • establishing one or more buyer personas that you currently serve can help you figure out the next right steps for your business. Maybe you want to attract a different crowd, or maybe you want to ensure you stay on the right track. You’ll never be able to without first establishing buyer personas.
  • when you know what kind of client or audience you want to reach, and pinpointed down every last one of their likes, dislikes and habits, it makes your job much easier. No more wondering which way is best to deliver new marketing, and no more wondering what kind of brand image you want to build for yourself. You’ll know all this and more if you know your buyer persona.
  • you can evaluate what’s not working. If you don’t know what your perfect buyer wants to read, watch, buy or see, how will you succeed in business? You may be doing things incorrectly you never imagined, but once you know your buyer persona, you’ll know for sure.

what to do

if you’re convinced you this is information you definitely need to know, you’ll want to keep reading. Yes, discovering your buyer persona can be a bit of work and some sort of monetary investment, but the payoff will be well worth it, as your business succeeds in ways you never imagined. From marketing to content creation to the service you offer to your brand image, you’ll know exactly the right steps to take to reach exactly the right people.

the biggest part of developing buyer personas is conducting research. You can do this by studying, surveying and polling current clients, staff members and the types of people you would eventually like to reach. This research can be done by sending out a survey in the mail, conducting a phone survey, posting a poll online, etc. There are a few key points, though, that you want to make sure you address to ensure you have the most comprehensive buyer persona possible.

  • basics: what is your perfect customer located? What’s their age? Gender? Social status? Marital status? Do they make most of the purchasing decisions in their household, or none at all?
  • career: what do they do for a living? Do they like it?
  • reading habits: does your perfect buyer read print? Get all their news from Twitter or Facebook? Live under a rock? What genres do they like? Do they prefer something more serious in tone, or a bit more laid back?
  • Overall Goals: what do they want out of life?
  • Emotions: What emotions drive your perfect customer to act and overcome obstacles? What motivates them?
  • Quotes: If you can get anonymous quotes from your respondents, all the better. These help you to really humanize your persona.
  • Challenges: What’s going to keep your perfect buyer from buying? What will keep that reader coming back? What will hook your client so they never leave?
  • A Great Example: Finally, put together a great example of real marketing material you’ve actually used for your business, that perfectly fits the persona you’ve compiled.

Once you have all of the vital information, you can start putting together the pieces of the puzzle to explore who exactly this person is, and tell their story. Think of it as writing a fictional character sketch. Include everything you can think of, from your persona’s day-to-day activities to their personality. Once you have their story, you’ll know exactly how to give them what they want.

The process doesn’t stop here, though. Each buying persona experiences a buying process. This is all of the thoughts, feelings, negotiations and other aspects that occur before they finally buy into whatever it is you’re selling. If you know the persona and you know each persona’s buying process, you can’t lose.

Many buyers undergo a three-stage buying process. In the very first stage, they’re a little bit passive and just looking around for something that catches their eye. This is when the best marketing comes into play. In the second stage, you’ve caught their eye, and now they’re starting to trust you. The trust may be slow in coming, but at least they’re keeping you on their radar. At this second stage, it’s all about making sure that you retain their interest and keep them engaged. Lastly, a buyer will be in a stage where they’re almost ready to commit. This is when protests, negotiations and sometimes the hardest obstacles will come into play, but your business can prove itself by overcoming all of those.

After the purchase or commitment is finally made, you can take a breath, but not for too long. You want to get that audience member or customer hooked for a lifetime, by taking advantage of their brand loyalty. If you’re able to establish brand loyalty, you’ll be in great shape. It’s a tactic that works for the biggest and most successful brands in the world, and it takes a large amount of positive branding, great marketing and a successful, valuable and healthy relationship with the customer.

Many brands even go so far as to reward their customers through rewards programs, and offer them additional perks for being customers. Make them feel special and elite for choosing your business. Emotions, after all, are a large part of the purchasing process.

When you’ve finally reached a successful stage, your customers will practically be working for you, recommending you to their friends and bringing in new clients which fit your perfect buyer persona.

Francis has extensive experience in working on complex digital marketing strategies for ecommerce, B2B, communities, and more encompassing all digital marketing channels.

Francis Mac Aonghus