Step-by-step instructions to build a buyer persona
How well do you know your customers, and how did you come by that knowledge? Do you really know what makes them tick, or are you just taking a blind shot in the dark?
You are doing your company a huge disservice if your buyer personas aren’t based on accurate facts and research.
Without a solid understanding of what drives your target audience’s purchase patterns, the product or service you offer will quickly become irrelevant. Luckily, developing buyer personas is not as difficult as it may sound.
The right strategy will earn your customers’ adoration and loyalty, along with leading to more effective copy and better product development.
Most Consumers Feel Misunderstood
It’s common knowledge that alienating a customer base is one of the worst moves a business can make. However, if this knowledge is so common, then why are so many organizations getting it wrong?
Click image to enlarge (source: Edelman Insights)
A recent study by Edelman Insights shows that approximately 51 percent of consumers feel brands are underperforming when it comes to asking about their needs. Out of the 11,000 people surveyed, only 10 percent reported that they feel brands are doing a good job in that regard.
Creating effective customer personas, collecting candid feedback, and connecting with your audience are the best ways to avoid contributing to this astonishing statistic. Learning how to create an amazing customer persona is simple, but you must proceed with caution and avoid all-too-common mistakes.
Customer Personas: Building Relationships that Demonstrate Value
If your buyer personas read like job descriptions straight from HR, then you are probably doing it wrong.
“Buyer personas are archetypal representation of real people. If they sound and look like stereotypes — they probably are. They must sound believable and represent believability as well.” — Tony Zambito
You need to focus on identifying the right attributes and goals to achieve true understanding of your customers. Give your personas names, not numbers or bullet points. Make your personas people-centric, not product-centric. Keep your personas simple enough to easily digest, yet detailed enough to paint an accurate picture.
Basing research on identifying concerns and motivational factors will bring you much closer to portraying an accurate snapshot of your customers.
- What are their behavioral drivers?
- What stage of the purchase journey are they currently on?
- Are there any obstacles preventing a potential sale?
- What mindset are they in while evaluating your product or service?
Before you go any further, take a moment to reflect on this all-too-relevant quote:
“We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.” — Anonymous
One of the most important things you can do in business is remember that the relative value of what you’re selling depends on the buyer’s perception of it. If they can’t see the value, then they aren’t going to buy it. The burden is on you to present your product in a way that makes sense to the people buying it.
How to Create a Mind-Blowingly Effective Customer Persona
The best marketing personas will always be based on qualitative research performed directly with buyers, and quantitative research strictly derived from relevant and accurate sources. Consider trying the following simple and actionable steps to gather high-impact information.
- Conduct surveys with open-ended questions: This allows your customer base to feel appreciated and valued, while giving you priceless insight on what their wants and needs.
- Solicit in-person and phone interviews: Speaking one-on-one with your customers will boost the appreciation factor even more, while allowing your representative to ask crucial follow-up questions.
- Identify why your customers purchase what they do, even if it isn’t your competitor’s product: This can lead to uncovering valuable insight about what’s important to them in a product or service, along with what motivates them to actually spend money on it.
Need help getting started? Download The Perfect Persona Template
Google Analytics Reveals Hidden Buyer Personas
As Google Analytics continues to improve their service, you now have more options than ever to drill down and learn more about your web traffic. Pay close attention to your conversions. Where are your customers located, and how were they referred to your site? Do any particular ISPs correlate with unusually high purchase rates?
Learn more about how to use Google Analytics to define your buyer personas here
A quick side note: while you’re at it, closely monitor dips in any particular browser or platform traffic. This could be a red flag for possible compatibility issues.
This approach, when properly utilized, can be highly effective at both identifying customer groups and boosting sales.
Watchfinder Finds Success with a New Customer Persona
Check this out:
As you probably know, high-dollar products traditionally see lower conversion rates than more budget-friendly alternatives. Watchfinder (a marketplace for expensive watches) reported that their average online order was around $5,000, and only 1 percent of visitors to their website were actually completing purchases.
After utilizing Google Analytics to create highly focused lists (including aspects like location, language, behavioral traits, and brand interest) Watchfinder discovered that an unusually large amount of sales were coming from a particular ISP in London’s financial district. By building intuitive customer personas based on the bankers in that area, they were greatly rewarded.
Within six months, their average orders increased by 13 percent.
BlackBerry: a cautionary tale of ignoring your customers
One of the former leaders in the smartphone market serves as an important reminder to take your customers seriously.
BlackBerry started out strong, marketing the first mainstream smartphone as early as 2002. However, things quickly went downhill for this nearly-defunct company following the release of Apple’s first iPhone. This 2007 quote from former co-CEO Jim Balsillie is a fairly transparent indicator of how BlackBerry met their demise:
“The recent launch of Apple’s iPhone does not pose a threat to Research In Motion Ltd.’s consumer-geared BlackBerry Pearl and simply marks the entry of yet another competitor into the smartphone market… It’s kind of one more entrant into an already very busy space with lots of choice for consumers,”
By overlooking their customers’ desire for a responsive touchscreen, expansive app store, and capable web browser, BlackBerry lost an edge in a market that they were never quite able to regain. This is a prime example of how dangerous it can be to simply assume you know what your customers want.
In 2007, BlackBerry was worth $40 billion; in 2013, they were willing to sell for a mere $4.7 billion.
Final thoughts (and a free customer persona template)
As you go about researching and building your fancy new buyer persona examples, keep in mind that they absolutely must be actionable and able to enable leadership decisions. You will be implementing these personas in all key customer interaction areas, such as marketing, sales, service, support, and operations.
The benefits of customer personas are very valuable. Making your customers feel less alienated and more valued will go a long way toward driving sales and increasing brand loyalty. Are you ready to get started? Check out our Buyer Persona PDF and get ready to have the time of your company’s life.