It can be easy, after a while, to equate your customers with numbers on a spreadsheet. You become hyper-focused on profits and loss reports, sales goals, ROI, inventory, and so on. And when this happens we lose sight of our customer’s humanity. But they are more than sales numbers. They are people with wants, needs, and desires. And it benefits both you and the customer to keep this in mind.
But you have a large number of customers — how are you supposed to think of each of them individually?
Or for new businesses, you don’t even have customers — how are you supposed to get to know people that haven’t found you?
This is where buyer personas come in. These helpful representations of potential customers afford your company many decision-making advantages in digital marketing, branding, and many other areas.
But what are they? And how can they help your company?
What Are Buyer Personas?
Buyer personas are fictional representations of your customers. They are used to generalize the demographics that have the potential to purchase your products or services. This allows a company to better understand its ideal customer. And the more you understand your customers, the better you can relate to them on a human level.
The connection built through buyer personas directly helps various departments within a company — digital marketing, customer service, sales, etc. — as well as the customer.
The customer understands the difference between a company that is simply throwing their message out there and hoping it gets picked up, and a company that speaks to them directly. The latter is likely to be rewarded with the customer’s business.
Why You Need Buyer Personas
Buyer personas give a business the information they need to better connect with their customers. This informs every stage of your business from production to communicating your message to delivering the end result.
Your tone, the language, and your imagery convey your brand identity. But if all of this isn’t aligned with the audience that actually has a use for your services, it will fall flat. Well-constructed buyer personas help avoid this.
How to Build Buyer Personas
You will likely have more than one group of people interested in your product or services for different reasons. Multiple buyer personas will be necessary to account for all of your business’s potential.
But how do you get to know these people? How do you find out whom to use as a model for your personas?
You ask them.
There are a few methods of finding customers willing to speak with you. First, you can simply speak with people that visit your physical location (if you have one). Ask them what brought them in, what they’re looking for, and how it will be used. The motivations behind their interests are where you will get the best insight.
And if you don’t have a physical store, you can call them on the phone. Use contact forms on your website for free consultations, ebooks, and things that will be of use to your customers. Include a field for entering their phone number and email address. A survey can also be sent with this information.
You should interview at least five people to build each buyer persona. There are bound to be differences between each person’s answers, but the similarities will be a great help.
As we said, the motivations that brought them to your company provide the best insights. So ask questions that get to the heart of how and why they found you. What are their needs? What are their goals? What are their interests?
It’s also helpful to get to know them individually — where they come from, their age, their likes and dislikes, etc.
Learning about their shopping and spending habits can help in marketing decisions down the road. How do they research products? Do they buy them in person or online? What do they consider when deciding whether to make a purchase or not?
Imagine every interaction your potential buyer will have with your product, as well as what leads them to seek it out in the first place. How do they navigate the process between recognizing a need, finding a means to satisfy that need, and deciding to complete a purchase?
Putting It Together
Organize all of your collected data.
- The needs they are looking to fulfill
- How your service addresses these needs
After separating your information by type, start to compile it. Analyzing the motivations, where your customer comes from, and how your service aligns with that will give you a much better understanding of your customers.
Think of these personas like actual people. Give them names. And then when you need to make decisions about how you will address your customers, pretend you are speaking directly to these personas in your digital marketing, signage, and products. Will they respond to your message? Will they identify with it?