Marketers, of course, consider the market to which they want to sell a product or service. While they might target a certain demographic, say, millennials living in the Pacific Northwest, more sophisticated marketing teams nowadays will instead develop buyer personas or buyer personas. These personas are fictional characters — based on real characters — that stand in for the group you are targeting.
Buyer personas allow marketing teams to truly think deeply about the wants and needs of their audiences. This results in more efficient, effective marketing campaigns and higher ROI.
Let’s have a closer look at buyer personas and how to create them.
What Is a Buyer Persona?
A buyer persona is a detailed description of someone who represents a member of your target audience. As already mentioned, the persona is fictional, but it is based on real customers’ needs and behaviors, which have been uncovered thanks to deep research on buying behaviors.
A buyer persona could represent the entire audience for your product or service. However, as companies roll out new products and expand to different markets, they will most likely find themselves developing multiple buyer personas to represent these disparate audiences.
The idea is that the more detailed a buyer persona, the more of a background you have to tailor your products to that persona. With a fleshed-out persona, you have more evidence on which to base your campaign, content, and design decisions.
What Is Included in a Buyer Persona?
The following pieces of information should be included in a buyer persona:
- Name (yes, marketing teams even create fictional character names)
- Photo (stock photograph)
- Demographic details
- Education level attained (and even the names of the schools)
- Current job
- Past jobs
- Salary information
- Personality/behavioral traits
- Goals—personal/lifestyle, career, household
- Shopping/buying habits
While this might seem like a simple list of characteristics, it is actually a very specific description of one ideal potential customer. The deeper the quantitative and qualitative research you perform to uncover who exactly your perfect buyer is, the more complete a picture you will have.
It allows you to think about your future buyer in a human way, instead of simply as a collection of data points. Although a buyer persona cannot possibly represent every single purchaser of your product or service, it helps represent an archetype in a tangible, functional way.
“Basically, you want to think about and speak about this model customer as if they were a real person,” explains Stacey McLachlan on the HootSuite blog. “This will allow you to craft marketing messages targeted specifically to them.”
Why Use a Buyer Persona?
In general, a buyer persona supports team decision making. Whether a product should be packaged in a certain way, be sold at a certain price point, be marketed through social media channels, carry a certain advertising slogan — these decisions involve the buyer persona, engaging the marketing team in a discussion of “Would this be effective for [Buyer Persona]?”
If the answer is no, then the decision is scrapped, plain and simple.
Buyer personas also help guard against team members using individual preferences or personal bias. Data and insights are currently able to inform marketing decisions, but the use of buyer personas adds another layer of proof of the validity of a decision, because it is what the persona would want.