A marketer or an ad agency creative? Thought so!
Well, you are on the right page if you want to learn the secrets of the fine art of psychographic analysis or what the “inbound” driven marketers of today are calling buyer personas.
Chances are you:
– Have heard the term tossed around and are starting to feel the need for a tool to better understand your market(s)
– Know the basics, even implement them in day to day work but are looking to take your persona crafting skills to the next level!
In either case, keep reading because we at Workzone have the relevant information and resources for you.
Today’s edition of #ManagementMonday deals with the description of a buyer persona, some basic and advanced strategies to create an insightful one and the business advantages of using them in order to “speak” to prospective clients in a friendly, knowledgeable voice.
WHAT IS A BUYER PERSONA?
We are guessing you Googled “How to create buyer personas?” in order to land up on our page. And if you did, you have already taken note of the heavy jargon marketers and experts tend to indulge in around the topic. So we have decided to take a different approach. Without trying to complicate matters, for beginners and newbies:
“A buyer persona is an imaginary character (either male or female) who possesses all the characteristics of your ideal client.”
And that’s it! If you had a magic wand which consistently sent hot leads your way, each lead would look like your buyer persona.
In order to facilitate proper utilization of a persona, the related information is generally divided into various sub-categories and documented into what is called a persona template. You can create your persona with as little or as much input as you have readily available.
WHY USE PERSONAS?
This one is a biggie and the reason behind us writing this piece in the first place. Workzone as you know is a robust project management tool for creative industries and there is little reason for us to dwell upon so obviously a marketing oriented topic.
But we have taken a pledge to help businesses maximize their profits by learning the tricks of management – the obscure, little discussed tid-bits which actually bring in results. And a buyer persona satisfies our imperative.
First and foremost, a buyer persona is not just any marketing tool; it is the marketing tool of choice for new age marketers because there has been a massive shift in the way buyers behave. Brand loyalty is no longer sufficient! With choices abounding, it is better to understand why people purchase (or do not purchase) your products and services. How do you do that? With a buyer persona of course!
Some other obvious advantages include:
- Better lead management – when you assign a buyer persona to each unique section of the target market, you can better track prospects and anticipate actions of leads. With personas you become active instead of assuming a reactive role!
- Better alignment between final deliverable and actual requirement – we at Workzone in fact recommend the creation of a buyer persona for every project. If you are a marketer or an ad agency personnel, you directly need to craft communication to influence your target and a persona is non-negotiable. However as a manager if you take time out to create a buyer persona for the demographic your client is targeting, you can in fact tweak features and suggest improvements to the deliverable and ultimately create something that is useful and a profitable proposition.
- Better trend prediction – No matter what business you are in, your resources can never be fully utilized if you are not prepared to be on top of changing trends and client sentiments. With thoughtful buyer personas, you can do just that.
BUYER PERSONA BASIC STRATEGIES:
If you do not have a buyer persona in place, the following rapid fire Q and A should help you get started!
Q: What is the format of a buyer persona template?
A: A buyer persona template can either be a MS PPT slide or it can be an excel sheet. The form doesn’t matter as long as it has the right information.
Q: What basic information is necessary to create a buyer persona?
A: With a buyer persona, the more the merrier! However to avoid getting overwhelmed, the following sub-heads should give you a complete persona to start your efforts with. For project managers who are not marketers, this is enough in terms of giving your clients’ buyers some context.
- Social status (marital status, education and so on)
- Geographical location
- Biggest concerns/pain points (which can be potentially solved by the product or service in question)
- Benefits of the product/service which can address the pain points
- Persona terminology (if the product/service is aiming people from a certain niche or industry, it is important to understand how they speak)
To this effect HubSpot has some extremely helpful templates which can get you started.
Q: How many personas do I need?
A: Industry experts say anywhere between two to seven personas is considered standard. However this issue is highly subjective and depends upon your product and how targeted you want to get with your messaging. Marketers typically need more personas but project managers can do with two or even one. Just to understand the people who will be ultimately using the deliverable.
Q: How do I collect the information I need to populate my persona templates?
A: The best way to gather the required input is from existing clients. If you do not have a sufficiently large client base, you can supplement the gathered information with the help of perspectives from your customer support team members. They deal with the queries and problems of prospects as well as buyers and are an untapped gold mine.
BUYER PERSONA ADVANCED STRATEGIES:
What if you already have a buyer persona in place or you need something extra to set your personas apart from the rest in the market? Glad you asked!
Most personas deal with very superficial categories like pain points and benefits. The true masters like to delve a little deeper. The truly helpful personas are not more psychoanalytical than the profiles created in general and this is how you can craft one too.
The Buyer Persona Institute is a super-specialized outfit helping premium marketers understand the people they need to communicate with. This Institute recommends the following sub-heads within a persona:
- Priority Initiatives – Simply understanding the problem is not enough, a persona must also tell you the circumstances under which a buyer may be willing to invest time and money in the solution you are creating or promoting.
- Success Factors – This sub-head should list the changes or improvements a buyer expects to see in himself or his organization after purchasing the product. It goes beyond benefits and works on the presumption that people actually want to become more evolved versions of themselves when they purchase a solution.
- Perceived Barriers – These are potential snags scaring the buyers. A barrier may be high cost or it may be an unpleasant experience with a former company or solution. Perceived barriers are important and this information can be culled from forums, social media groups and one on one focus groups.
- Buyer’s Journey – Potential clients go through a typical buyer’s cycle of identifying symptoms-diagnosing problem-purchasing product. A persona must tell you the influencers these potential clients come in contact with at each stage of the journey. This helps you identify the most important personas – the ones who are the real decision makers.
- Decision Criteria – This section should tell you the exact product/service features which can help the potential clients achieve the desired success factors. There will be a unique set of decision criteria for each persona.
If you wish to download a sample advanced persona template, click on the button below. This template has been issued by the Buyer Persona Institute which you can visit to hone your persona creation skills even further.
A successful product or campaign always solves pressing problems. With buyer personas you can actually articulate these issues better than your clients building the “like-Know-Trust” factor.
Image Credit: “Egg Carton” by Gualberto107