I was sitting in a hookah bar one day, enjoying my sheesha when a woman walked over to my table and asked if I could give her two minutes.
After a quick greeting, she started asking some general questions like how I earned a living, what my typical day looked like, whether or not I smoked cigarettes, how much I spent on smoking each month and a few others.
I immediately understood that she was working for some upcoming cigarette brand and was researching personas.
I liked how they had chosen hookah bars for this purpose as people who smoke hookahs are easier to convert to a specific brand of cigarettes, compared to those who are already addicted to a certain brand of cigarette.
The incident made me realize, once more, that regardless of the size of a business, or whether it’s an established one or a startup, businesses always need buyer persona research to better understand their target audience to create marketing strategies that are highly-effective and engaging.
In my opinion creating and executing marketing strategies without the buyer’s persona is like shooting arrows in the dark. You don’t know if you’re going to hit the mark. In simple words, buyer’s persona is essential to making informed and powerful marketing decisions that save costs and bring desired results, faster.
Why is buyer’s persona important?
- Researching buyer’s persona for your company has multiple benefits, including; Your marketing campaigns are based on your target audience instead of a random study that you found online that might or might not apply to your business.
- Your customer service will be better aligned to the values and needs of your customers. Buyer’s persona will help guide you about your target audience and the kind of service they expect from your company. You can then train your customer service department accordingly.
- Your buyer’s persona will provide you with clear directions on how to create your messaging, product and service in a way that resonates strongly with each of your customers, instead of reaching out to everyone with the same line of reasoning. .
The alignment in your messaging, marketing and customer services that your buyer’s persona will afford you will naturally result in an increase in sales and better customer retention.
What is a negative persona?
The buyer’s persona discussed above helps you find out who your ideal customer is, what he does, where he works, his problems and the kind of solutions he expects from your business.
Negative (or exclusionary) personas are people who do not fall into your target audience or are generally a misfit with some or all aspects of your product or service, are too expensive to retain or are over or under-qualified for your product or service.
Let’s suppose you offer beginner or intermediate level digital marketing courses. People who have worked for six years or more in the digital marketing industry or are currently holding senior managerial positions within the industry will fall under the negative persona category for your business.
How to create buyer’s persona?
Buyer’s persona can be created via interviews, research and surveys.
In order to make up the various business personas, we have to interview existing customers, prospects and referrals.
The answers that we get from all three of these categories will provide us with valuable data, and help us learn about our own products and services, understand customer expectation, recognize areas that need improvement, and better comprehend practices that are a big hit with customers.
Here are the three types of people you can interview to create buyer personas.
Your customers are one of the best resources to help you create your buyer’s persona document. However, this is not applicable to new businesses that are still working to create a customer base.
People who have purchased from your website before are better able to explain more about how they felt, whether the product met their expectation or not and what else they want to see happening in your business.
While interviewing your existing customers, make sure you also include a few unhappy ones in the list because their feedback will shed light on those areas of your business, product or service that require improvement.
Your Business Prospects
This is the second step in developing the buyers’ persona. It’s also important to interview people who haven’t bought anything from you yet.
Understanding your prospects better will not only give them the impression that you are a responsible brand that is concerned about its customers, but the information provided by them will help you build a better and more detailed buyer’s persona document.
If you are new business, you are pretty much left to depend on referrals only as you might not have substantial number of customers or prospects.
Interviewing referrals is still important even if you have a large customer base because referrals will gives you varied buyer personas to work with.
The best way to find people via referrals is through your contacts, or you could also find your target persona on LinkedIn and then catch up with them through mutual friends.
You can try tools like UserTesting and similar services to run questions and get answers from different people. The website also allows you to run remote user testing (with some follow-up questions). You’ll have less control over sessions, but it’s a great resource for quick user testing.
When interviewing people, it’s always good to invest whenever required.
So, if you want to give away some gifts, discounts or special bonuses to your referrals or customers for their support, by all means do.
Also, remember that their time is as important as yours, so your questionnaire should be concise and to-the-point. Most importantly, do not sell. You are trying to collect the data, so stay focused.
What questions should you ask?
This one is very important. What kind of questions should you ask your interviewees to get a detailed understanding of your buyer’s persona?
You need to know the Who, What, Why and How…
Here are the few questions you should be asking;
- What do they do? (Job title, position in the company.)
- What does their typical day look like?(This will tell you more about his routine.)
- What skills are required to do their particular job? (Ask this question only if your product requires it.)
- What industry is their company part of?
- Size and revenue of the company?
- What is their biggest challenge?
- What do they read? (Both online and offline)
- Which social media platform are they most active on? (Facebook, Twitter or any other?)
- Personal and educational background? (This covers everything from name, age to location, educational background and anything else that’s relevant.)
- Preferred purchasing method and why? (Also, discuss their most recent purchase and understand the philosophy behind it)
Now that you have some substantial raw data, the next step is to sort it out, find commonalities between people, and then organize those points into different personas. It should look something like this:
Sort that data and make a list of fictional characters that explain in detail the characteristics of your current and potential target audience. If your marketing strategies will be based on your targeted persona, there will be more chances for you to increase your customer’s lifetime value
Once you have a better idea of your buyer’s persona you will know how to train your customer service team to serve your customers best, and see the changes required within the marketing and sales strategy to acquire and retain customers.
So if you don’t have a buyer’s persona document, start building one today!