Do You Know Who Your Buyer Personae Are?


The industry consensus is that each brand needs to have a suite of ‘buyer personae’, or differentiated identities for all of the different sorts of people who buy your product or service.  But what are the buyer personae for your brand? Do you need them? How do you develop them, and what are the mistakes to avoid?

A buyer persona is like an individualised profile for different groups of consumers who are your customers, both actual and potential.  In order to deliver strategic and targeted messages to them, the prevailing wisdom is that you develop a profile for each of these market segments, and sell to them ‘individually’, as it were.

So, how do you develop the buyer personae for your business?  Adele Revella of the Buyer Persona Institute advises that there are four key mistakes to avoid when developing your authentic buyer personae.  In general terms it seems the key is  actually talking to buyers, and here are the 4 Key Mistakes to avoid:

1. Making stuff up about buyers

To target your buyers effectively, you will need to uncover specific insights that are unknown to your competitors or anyone inside your company. This information will be so valuable that you would never post it on your website. However, it will tell you, with scary accuracy, exactly what you need to do to deliver content that persuades buyers to choose you.  The only way to gather clear, unexpected insights about how your buyers make decisions is to have a conversation with them, so make it a priority to spend a few hours a month interviewing recent buyers, including those who chose you and those who did not, and importantly discovering both why they did buy from you, and why they did not.

2. Getting sidetracked by irrelevant trivia

It doesn’t help you when developing these buyer personas to get bogged down in the detail.  You  really need only five insights:

  • Priority initiatives: What are the three to five problems or objects that your buyer persona dedicates time, budget, and political capital to?
  • Success factors: What are the tangible or intangible metrics or rewards that the buyer associates with success, such as “grow revenue by X” or a promotion?
  • Perceived barriers: What factors could prompt the buyer to question whether your company and its solution can help with achieving his or her success factors? This is when you begin to uncover unseen factors, such as competing interests, politics, or prior experiences with your company or a similar company.
  • Buying process: What process does this persona follow in exploring and selecting a solution that can overcome the perceived barriers and achieve their success factors?
  • Decision criteria: What aspects of each product will the buyer assess in evaluating the alternative solutions available? To be useful, the decision criteria should include insights both from buyers who chose a competitor and those who decide not to buy a solution at all.

3.    Developing too many buyer personae

If you differentiate your market too much then you find your marketing strategy is too segmented and becomes unwieldy and overly complex.  Set a limit on how many market personae you want to develop and make differentiations between them only if the differences are critical to purchasing decisions.

4.    Conducting scripted Q&A interviews with buyers

Although using a script when interviewing buyers seems like a smart strategy, what you are doing is actually pre-baking your customers’ answers.  Instead, have a list of core information you need to capture, and so long as you tick those off, keep the conversation relaxed and focussed on the customer, not on the information you are trying to discover.

If you are just starting the process of developing buyer personae, then you might find the tools that Ms Revella has developed to be quite useful.  She has shared with all of us (thanks Adele!)  her Core Buyer Persona Template which is a very useful tool in beginning this process.

By avoiding the 4 key mistakes in developing buyer personae, your buyers’ needs will be the focus of your marketing strategies and tactics. You’ll become so attuned to your buyers’ perspective that you will consistently impress them, confidently delivering content that answers their questions and persuades them to choose you.

Let me know your thoughts on developing buyer personae.  Is this something you are already doing in your business? Is it working for you? I would love to know your thoughts.


Yours in PR

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