Buyer personas can feel like a bit of homework before we start the “real work” of creating advertisements and running marketing campaigns.
I mean, come on. We all know who we’re marketing to, right?
The truth is that if you haven’t created buyer personas, you’re limiting the potential of your marketing efforts. You run the risk of running marketing campaigns that are too broad, unfocused, deliver a low ROI, and confuse audiences.
Before we go further, let’s make sure we’re on the same page and cover the basics.
What is a “Buyer Persona,” Anyway?
Hubspot offers a great definition:
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.
When creating your buyer persona(s), consider including customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better.
Breaking that down a bit further, a great buyer persona tells you everything you need to know about this semi-fictional ideal customer. Jot down a name, their job title, the company they work for, their hobbies and interests, their beliefs or values, and so forth.
Imagine them as a real person – not just a caricature or a stereotype. If you craft the buyer persona based on data and with care, they will accurately represent some of your existing buyers. Hence the term “semi-fictional.” The persona may not be a real person, but they’re awfully representative of real live human beings!
So why do buyer personas matter?
Buyer Personas Offers Clarity and Direction to Your Marketing Efforts
The most obvious benefit of creating buyer personas is the clarity and direction it offers your marketing efforts. It ensures that everyone on your marketing team knows exactly who you are trying to connect with.
Any marketing team will have an idea of who their audience is, and we usually know the general details. What teams without buyer personas miss is their audience’s age, pain points, interests, concerns, and so forth. Consider the effectiveness of content that’s written for a vague of audience of “manufacturing professionals” versus “30-60 year old plant managers in the automotive parts sector concerned about the disruption of the Internet-of-Things.” As you can imagine, the latter is a lot more likely to connect.
It also helps to know about your audience’s buying habits, where they spend most of their time, how to reach them, and so forth. You can’t sell to someone unless you know why they would want to buy, as well as where and when they are spending their money.
When you know exactly who you’re trying to reach, you can fine-tune every element of your marketing and advertising to resonate with this group. You’re able to create ads that make it crystal clear to audiences that “yes, this product is for me and it offers a solution to my problems.”
Buyer Personas Keeps Everyone on the Team on the Same Page
Let’s face it, keeping a marketing team on the same page isn’t always an easy effort. We might start from a point of clarity regarding our audience, but as time wears on and we juggle a hundred different tasks at once, it’s easy to lose sight and get mixed up. Buyer personas offer you a reference to bring new team members up to speed and stay focused on your ideal customer.
Buyer personas are also invaluable for illuminating audiences that may otherwise seem foreign and unfamiliar. In our increasingly specialized and divided world, marketers often lack firsthand experience with the people we are trying to engage. Specific details regarding their behaviors, beliefs, and values help us visualize them and speak to them more effectively.
It’s important to note that it can be helpful to have several buyer personas for a given product or service. In fact, these personas may be vastly different. You might want to create a buyer persona for your commercial vs. residential customers, athletic vs. casual customers, and so forth. This can help you keep in mind the amount your customers differ and the breadth of your audience. It can also be used to craft highly targeted email and social campaigns with different messages for the same product speaking to different demographics.
They Remind You That There’s a Real Person Reading Your Ads
Last but not least, buyer personas humanize our audiences. The most effective marketing and advertising campaigns are crafted by people who never lose sight of the living, breathing person on the other side of the screen. The greatest marketers understand the fears, passions, loves and the motivations of their audience, crafting content that speaks to these unique emotions with genuine empathy.
This is why it’s so critical to include pictures and names for buyer personas. While some might look at these “fake” details as irrelevant and unnecessary, they help us get a lifelike portrait of the real people buying our products. At the end of the day, that’s the stuff behind every legendary advertising campaign.
Know Your Audience
We get it: creating buyer personas can feel tedious. However, it really is a vital tool for unlocking a comprehensive, intimate understanding of your target audience. That’s half the battle in marketing, and unfortunately the empathy created by this understanding is in short supply these days.
The upside is that you have a remarkable potential to create head-turning campaigns if you truly know and understand your audience. If you work in marketing, you have to ask yourself: who is your audience…and what do you have yet to learn about them?