Why We Have Cardboard People in Our Office
A guide to understanding your buyer personas.
BY JESSICA ZARTLER
If you have never heard of the term buyer personas or have not yet made them a part of your marketing and sales plan, you could be wasting advertising dollars and missing out on thousands, or millions of dollars in revenue.
In this blog, we will lay out steps to get you started on optimizing the capitalization of customer understanding, and share how we use buyer personas on our team to improve interdepartmental relations, customer service and build a better product.
“Without quantified buyer personas you may as well set your revenue on fire.” -Andrew Grierer, Price Optimization Expert
Buyer personas play a key role in the development of successful inbound marketing programs. Truly and sincerely understanding who your customers are, both at a personal and professional level, lays the foundation for every marketing effort you make, and aligns those efforts with your other teams.
Without quantified customer profiles, it is impossible to make data-driven decisions, find out why your customer acquisition costs are so high and/or find out why your business isn’t making money.
Used properly, the addition of buyer personas can formulaically increase the efficiency of your marketing spend and grow your business.
What is a persona and why should we create them?
A buyer persona, or persona, is the summary of research or observations based on a key group of customers who show similar behavior and lifestyle choices. It allows us to collectively group clients into buckets or a few distinct profiles, rather than having to focus on thousands of individual needs and wants.
These summaries are then categorized and made into a fictitious person that can be referenced to guide business decisions, whether design, content marketing, branding, or even the types of products or tools a company develops and sells. The persona represents your ideal customer or potential buyer and allows you to better understand the buyer’s journey and how that “person,” i.e. demographic, interacts with your company.
With this understanding, you can see which personas are the influencers, internal advocates and decision-makers. Clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of each helps you to tailor your content and conversations appropriately.
(NOTE: You can create multiple buyer personas for different demographics to create as many personas as you need to address your targets however, I would suggest starting with three personas in the beginning and moving on from there if you find the need for more.)
The six things you need to develop a persona
1. Demographics: Knowing demographics is the first and most important step in building a persona. The details can include topics such as where the person lives (urban/rural areas), their education, age, experience, and so on. This data will allow you to begin to shape your first customer profile.
2. Industry: Every business or product is offering a solution to a problem. Sometimes, that product is addressing a specific vertical, such as healthcare or finance. If this is true of your business, marketing to anything outside of that industry would be a waste. Even if your business can serve multiple industries, identifying the particular industry will help you tailor your approach and craft a better sales proposition or marketing message to engage with the person or “persona” of that industry.
3. Role: The third step in identifying your customer profile is to understand the persona’s role within the company. As mentioned earlier, is this person an influencer/researcher? A decision-maker? Spending all of your sales and marketing efforts on a person who may not have a say in a final purchasing decision may not be the best investment of time. By adding this information to your persona, you can skip the messenger and go straight to the top of the buying journey food chain.
4. Pain Points & Challenges: Step four is perhaps the most important in understanding your customer. You cannot sell a solution unless you can understand the problem. Identifying for each persona what they deal with on a day-to-day basis and why they are beginning to look for a solution will give great insight and direction. Knowing this information can help drive better marketing and sales conversations, result in a higher closing percentage and shorter buying cycle.
5. Goals & Objections: Much like pain points, uncovering goals for each persona is critical. Depending on the individual’s role, goals can range from a specific revenue target to streamlining administrative tasks to improving the company’s reputation. Although these goals can vary significantly, aligning goals with each persona will help to further understand how your unique solution fits them. Along with this understanding, you should think about what objections they may have to your product (i.e. price, speed, etc.) and think about them beforehand, so you know how to answer any questions that may come up.
6. Buying Process: Learning where and how your audience consumes information will tell you where to promote content and in what form to produce it. For example, your persona may spend a lot of time on industry blogs, so you would know to invest your marketing spend and engage in dialogue there. For those personas who like to interact and share ideas, a consultation or project assessment could be a great way for them to connect with your sales team. Knowing where and how your personas gather information on the buyer journey is the final step in capitalizing on your newly created personas.
Sourcing all of this information is no easy feat. You can use research from job descriptions to assess different profiles, talk to team members in different departments to get different perspective or talk with current happy customers about their discovery process and buying journey. Armed with this, gather your team and sketch out your first three personas, start applying them in your sales and marketing process and watch your ROI go hockey-stick.
“So, what’s with these cardboard people in your office?”
This is a question we get a lot at Taskworld. People that come for meetings or meetups in our office see these life-sized cardboard cutouts.
Meet Ben, Linda and Jeff — our persona standees.
After developing our own buyer personas, or customer profiles, we decided to take “putting on our customer hat” one step further and have our “customers” with us, so that we are always reminded of the six details of their character -demographic, industry, role, pain points, goals and buying process.
Having Ben, Linda and Jeff with us, assures we are always mindful of their needs, so we can build better solutions into our project management software -for them. This is especially helpful as well to bring the customer service, marketing and development teams together. Because our engineers do not answer customer support tickets directly, while they are building our newest features and solutions, they can also keep Ben, Linda and Jeff in mind, as that is where the standees live — right next door.
Developing a buyer persona or personas allows you to be more targeted, have better engagement and relationships with your customers, be more efficient with your marketing dollars and can exponentially increase your ROI.
Spending some time to focus on one persona first and growing from there, is a great way to get started on the process of not only knowing your customers better, but to make the most of that opportunity. Involving all of your teams in building customer profiles draws them closer and reminds them of the bottom line —not just revenue, but helping to create solutions for real people.
Every manager can use a little help. Visit taskworld.com to learn why managers in over 4000 companies across 80 countries use Taskworld to improve their team’s performance.
About the author
Jessica Zartler is a Multimedia Marketing Consultant & Content Strategist for Taskworld. Before working in Public Relations and Marketing, she was an award-winning television reporter and multimedia journalist. When she is not hunting for the best content on the web to share with TW users, blogging or producing videos, she is teaching yoga, cooking, playing drums and travelling.