Why are some brands more successful than others?
Why does a seemingly no-brainer idea take off in a few hours?
How can you match the work done by $300-per-hour Marketing experts? [How can you charge $300 per hour, too?]
Find your way in the article:
- Breaking through
- What are buyer personas?
- Are B2B buyer personas different from B2C?
- Why do we need buyer personas?
- Which are the gains of buyer personas?
- How to get started with creating a buyer persona
- Brand and the Buyer Persona
- Mission & Vision, and the Buyer Persona
- How to create buyer persona templates
- How to create buyer personas – Quick Overview
- In a nutshell
We were in.
We had just booked ourselves in the CEO’s agenda for Monday 9 am and there we were.
As a matter of fact, she was not scary at all. [And nope, I had no action plan for that one.]
At the time I was working for this startup and we were designing our platform for event sponsorships, so we were trying to get to know both sides of the marketplace. We had been talking to event planners for a few months and we had just gotten our foot in the multinationals’ HQs.
Were we finally cutting it? Far from it.
We checked in at the reception desk, walked around with those “GUEST” labels, the equivalent of Intruder Alert. After a while, the tour around the different departments was complete.
At this one department behind those glass walls, I could see young women about my age. Then, I heard the Marketing Manager (tour guide for the day) vaguely specifying
“… and this department is almost exclusively made up of young mothers, you know, because of the way they can connect to the product and the concerns of the target audience, and over here we see…”
My A-ha moment!
We choose our Marketing and Sales people based on their knowledge of what customers want from the brand. If they belong to our target group, too, then they know the available options (competition), they can talk to our customers using the right words, identify with them, give them the right messages.
In this case, for example, it is impossible for someone who is not a young mother to identify with this very special target group, in a way that would come out as effortless and genuine, natural.
This is where buyer personas come in.
A buyer persona is like averaging all the characteristics of our most loyal customers into one.
The closer we are to our target audience, the better informed our buyer personas are.
And, ultimately, meetings with the advertising agency would be way more targeted; the actual concepts would be approved by a sample of the target group. It would be like the department is seeing itself in the mirror.
I mean, after all, was it not the reason why that particular department drew my attention? I saw myself in those women- we were the same age, and probably grew up listening to the same songs or watching the same cartoons on Saturday morning. I noticed them because we were similar.
What are buyer personas?
Simply put, a buyer persona is a user mirroring. Consider it your ideal customer.
Think of it like reflecting your customers’ brains and hearts. Everything your users like, listen to, are passionate for and so on, is reflected in this mirroring. You are creating a doppelganger.
Essentially, to design buyer personas we create a number of “in vitro” personalities which reflect the qualities of our target audience.
These characteristics derive from customer research, market research, interviews, focus groups, customer service, demographics, psychographics, etc.
Buyer personas come with a comprehensive list of personal details, such as:
- Name – Give your persona a name.
- Country – Describe the country and city he/she lives in, as this influences consumers’ priorities or decisions.
- Age group – Name the age range of the primary target group for your persona.
- Education – The level of education a person has received plays a decisive role in brand communication.
- Marital status – Are the single or married? Do they have kids? What is their family size? This will shed light in their priorities.
- Type of employment – Does your buyer persona work full time, part time, or not at all? What is their job title?
- Income level – How much money does your buyer persona make? Income is known to influence purchasing behavior.
- Favorite hobbies, music genre, TV shows, radio station, social media network – These details are employed by major companies using advanced techniques such as fMRI scans to reveal visceral feelings and emotional connections to brands, jingles, aesthetics, and so on. (If you are keen on finding out more about the particular Neuromarketing practices, I strongly recommend reading Martin Lindstrom’s books titled “Buyology” and “Brandwashed”).
- User engagement level – How likely are your customers to engage with your brand on social media? Craft your marketing messages and taglines accordingly.
- Languages – What languages are they fluent in? If English is not the official language of their country, what is their level of familiarity with English words? This will determine your level of flexibility with the language when crafting marketing messages.
Are B2B buyer personas different from B2C?
True or false? Buyer personas are effective for all organization types. True!
But B2C and B2B buyer personas are not all that different.
The two major differences between the two types are:
i) the emotional component: In B2C buyer personas, we build users profiles based on emotions and the feelings we want our brand to elicit. This is not the case in B2B profiles where the most important aspect is making a decision based on logic and benefits sought.
ii) the locus of the profile: In B2C buyer personas we focus on the day-to-day aspects of our persona; their preferences, their hobbies, and so on. In the case of B2B personas we focus on the gatekeeper (the person to make the final decision) and outline their needs, current challenges, and their motivation.
Remember, creating buyer personas is all about spending a day in your target audience’s shoes!
Why do we need buyer personas?
Buyer personas are key to designing a perfect product/service, and keeping it that way.
How many reasons do you need?
– Buyer personas align with your branding
To seamlessly integrate your brand with your buyer personas is to create an invincible brand.
Primarily, focus on building your buyer personas around your brand values, brand mission, vision, etc.
We will discuss this in more detail further down.
– Attract the right consumers
Think of it this way: by creating buyer personas, you give shape to your target audience.
Now, this shape must go through the communication tunnel, therefore the two must match.
As a case in point, a buyer persona that is extraverted rather than introverted will have social media accounts in more networks than the latter. or at least it will demonstrate higher engagement posting and updating its status, in comparison.
– Achieve coherence throughout the brand and various teams
With buyer personas, there are no slip-ups. You know exactly who you write for.
There is consistency, brand-wide, site-wide, and internally, regardless of internal mobility, etc.
So, even if a member of your Marketing team tries out the Sales team and you have to hire someone else or bring someone from another department, no branding misalignment will occur.
This might sound superfluous if you are still a small company, however, this is of the essence for when your company grows.
You see, it might be easy to maintain brand alignment if there are only a couple of employees working for you, but what happens when your business grows to 5o, 500, or 5,000 employees?
So, before it is too late, invest in updating your brand guidelines/brand manifesto/brand playbook with your buyer personas.
This way you will never have to go back on any of your published website or other content due to misalignment.
Plus, you will never create confusion among your followers and there will be no friction among different departments creating content/designing product or service.
Essentially, buyer personas serve as the frame of the total of your inbound marketing efforts.
At the same time, the various departments can inform your buyer persona and vice versa; customer reviews, or complaints or FAQ to Customer Support could help with designing a more accurate representation of the average user.
– Prioritize leads with buyer personas
Knowing who to address and who to leave out helps rationalize your spendings and streamline your budget decisions.
With the right buyer personas in hand, you are sure to be making the right decisions when choosing one segment over another.
It’s easy and foolproof because you focus on the segments that best resemble your preset buyer personas.
Save time and money in the long-term!
– Stay relevant
It will be considerably easier to globalize your marketing strategy both internally and externally.
You will only need to consider a few regional adjustments.
Staying relevant cross-culturally is another of the perks
– Differentiate your brand from the competition
Mark your territory in the industry.
Assigning your buyer persona a particular attribute could resonate with a very niche group; your target group.
For example, a video stabilizer that gives videos a silky smooth recording could turn out to be especially useful across downhill athletes or dancers.
The more niche you go, the easier it will be to formulate a buyer persona that represents the target group.
For instance, say you are aiming to target krumping dancers.
Now, krumping started in LA (USA), and it turned out to be the way to release tension and avoid gang life.
In this case, to develop buyer personas, you can’t start by naming one “John Doe”- there is an entire culture behind this.
Your persona has a distinct name and a middle name (or street name, if you wish).
So, it would sound like this: Ty’ “Dem Feelz” Valdez.
Ty is a second-generation American citizen, his parents are originally from Mexico, and had a tough time growing up in the city.
Now, you can pick it up from here by getting to know as many real-life “Ty”s as possible!
Additionally, there are more benefits of establishing buyer personas are multifold:
– Buyer personas help make brand extension smarter
You can supercharge your established buyer personas with added features, trending topics.
Remember, buyer personas are alive. Everything, literally everything, informs the buyer persona; from sociopolitical changes to discoveries and trending anecdotes, helps create a more well-rounded profile of the buyer persona, thus making it look even more real, even more representative, even more genuine.
As such, buyer personas have a past, present, and future.
These correspond to past experiences and TV shows watched, songs sung and references in general, current dreams, ambitions, plans, fears, and optimism for what the future holds, as well as exploration of new ideas, etc.
– Buyer personas are the red thread of the brand.
Knowing that you are creating content or products/services for Karina, the average 35-year-old woman from Russia, with a powerful Instagram account and a highly-engaged following of fashion aficionados and an ambition to become a digital nomad is indeed ALL THE INSPIRATION you need to create your Pinterest boards, your mood boards, your products.
We are talking about content as targeted as can get. From wording to inspirational quotes to items that complement the life of a lifestyle traveler, your buyer persona is right at the heart of your branding.
– Buyer personas help create new potential for the target audience’s personal growth.
A successful buyer persona can help shape the future of an entire generation, in the exact same way that endorsers have, for all these years.
You see, my point is that when choosing an endorser, the ultimate goal for a company is to redeem everything that the endorser stands for, in connection to a specific product or service.
Same goes for the buyer persona which will serve as the personification of your ideal customer.
What Jungian Archetypes are and HOW they can help you do the trick
To further understand the purchasing behavior of our average customer, we must delve deeper into buyer archetypes.
These are derived from Karl Jung’s theory about the characteristics of the collective unconscious.
In marketing, we use archetypes as a way to compare and contrast a brand against a cultural symbol.
More specifically, we have twelve archetypes to choose from, some of which are the Outlaw, the Hero, the Magician, the Explorer, and so on.
For example, Red Bull relies on the archetypes of the Explorer and the Magician. The Explorer is out to collect experiences and get to know more of the world, while the Magician is the one who drinks the magic potion which “gives you wings”.
These archetypes add to our user profile because they come with an “expected” set of characteristics that help us outline our users. In the case of the Explorer, we know he/she is outdoorsy, non-conformist, dislikes comfort zones, is ambitious, follows his heart.
Cool, isn’t it?
If you want to find out more on archetypes, a book on branding and the use of archetypes I really enjoyed was “The hero and the outlaw”. Here’s how to start building extraordinary brands!
Which are the gains of buyer personas?
This is the immense power of buyer personas. In the following section we are going to explore the benefits of designing a buyer persona.
But before we get there, I must set the standards for what is to follow:
I wish I could tell you that you design a buyer persona once and you are done for life. But this won’t be the case.
To get the best of what buyer personas have to offer, your buyer persona must grow as you grow.
On Day 1 of your business, your buyer persona is a vague understanding/expectation/wishful thinking of your ideal customer.
After a year, you have a far more informed view of what your customers want and expect when they buy from you.
And then, maybe you upgraded your product or service and attracted many more customers. And that influencer posted your product and more followers dropped in. So what does your buyer persona look like now?
Check your Buyer Persona Day 1 and your current one. See how far you’ve come?
Now, beyond a time-related aspect of updating your buyer persona, there are two more aspects to explore:
- Develop the buyer persona because you wish to take your customers to the next stage of their lifecycle (customer journey).This means that, if they are regular users, you are looking for other ways to make the product/service useful to them so that they become heavy users. Therefore, your buyer persona, who should by default have an innovative approach to all things new (so that it can introduce users to the next level).
- Be the top-of-mind choice for your customers.The human-like qualities a buyer persona exhibits are reflected by the brand. Thus, it is easier for consumers to relate with it over any other brand in the market. With a buyer persona that talks, lives, breathes like your target group, is in every right event, wears all the latest trends (depending on the target group; even no trend is a trend) you get more.Besides consistency throughout your communication and employees, buyer personas grace your brand with a competitive advantage.
How to get started with creating a buyer persona
How do you take an educated guess about your persona?
You need to go out there and meet your persona. There’s no way to cut corners in this one.
- Go to the coffee shops, bar, malls, flea markets, concerts, events where your target group goes. Mingle. Make friends. Talk.
- Visit forums where your niche talks about what it is interested in. For example, if you are a car manufacturer then you should check out all these forums, facebook groups and fan pages, fan blogs of your most dedicated customers. Take notes of the language they use, their concerns, their worries, what they do in their leisure, and so on.
- Throw an event for just these communities and pump raw, original, genuine insights of what these users expect to see from the brand. Use the best version of these attributes to improve your buyer persona.
At the same time, there are more things that your team could do to keep the buyer persona up to date:
- Hypothesis testing – Start with a draft of the preconceptions of your target audience. Pick up a central idea and slowly build around it. For instance, let’s say I own a fashion ecommerce store for women aged 25-35. I am primarily targeting upbeat, extroverted women, dedicated to what they do, and highly likely to excel professionally in the near future. I will create 3 different hypotheses about what I believe they are like. (Tip: Use Jungian Archetypes to draw inspiration.)
- Internally – You are going to love this. This step involves small talk with various teams in your business. Time to make some friends and give your colleagues the opportunity to contribute actively to the company marketing. Essentially, anyone who communicates with customers can provide information on this. Ask employees from Customer Service, Technical Support, Sales, even those who deliver your products, they know the product or service. At the same time, you will be upgrading your buyer persona, and updating your colleagues on the latest buyer persona attributes. You see, for the very same reason why employees from these departments can bring in information, they can also communicate this information on their way out.
- Here, I’m sharing with you an interesting way that Zipcar went about employee contribution. This is a great example to see how company employees translated this into external communication with customers over round-tables.
- Google Analytics – Your website holds tons of insights about your website visitors and their behavior on your website. While you are in the process of designing the most detailed buyer persona for your brand ever, use Google Analytics to add details to your customer profile. Those of you reading this article who are determined to make it to the top will also do this: I understand that it can be hard to keep up with all this information on Google Analytics but this is where Email Marketing can help you out. Simply by installing website tracking (for free on Moosend – register here) on your website, you can set up in minutes drip campaigns which automate these processes for you. Drip campaigns such as Loyalty sequence (used to keep track of views or purchases of a specific product, for example) are where this information becomes actionable automatically. Find out more about how these 10 drip campaigns can help you (or save the article for later)!
- Ahrefs – You need a tool like Ahrefs or Moz or anything that might work for you to see how users find you. What did they google to land at your website? How can you use this information?
- Social media – Your social media also can give you access to an insightful log. For example, Facebook can give you access to the age groups arriving at your page. More specifically, depending on the country you are in, Facebook can provide you with details on your users’ profiles, namely their age group, their income level, their interests, and so on. Also, if you have a business account on Instagram you can also find out the number of impressions your every post is generating organically, and then you can take it from there, to see which posts are more popular with your followers, that is, what they are most interested in seeing.
- Sumo – Find out what your customers are talking about. Look for tools which can track your users’ public conversations online.Add everything from the actual expressions that they use to the exact wording for their reviews of your product or another product, find out what products or services they love (or hate!), and so on.
- Email Marketing – Your email marketing can help you cherry-pick your most engaged users/customers and address some of your most burning questions to them. Employ advanced segmentation (free on our platform across all subscription plans, in case you were going to find an excuse to procrastinate) to trace your most engaged users across your mailing list and then invite them to take an online questionnaire.This questionnaire will be made up of questions tapping into the Emotional Quotient of the recipients, and their emotional connection with the brand, as well as their outlook on life. We’ve talked about something similar in our previous article about visual storytelling examples.You can also get inspiration for your tests through a Myer-Briggs test. By adding multiple such questions (and with the help of an expert) you can discover which type of personality the majority of your customers belong to.
- In the end – This is the most fun part of the process. Start bringing everything together: all the information you have gathered will help compose user profiles (maybe more than one). Based on this, you can confirm or decline your original hypotheses. Subsequently, adapt your marketing message, pitch, and craft taglines for every primary and secondary target group.
Brand and the Buyer Persona
Setting your brand values straight
With regard to designing a buyer persona, you must first have your brand values in place.
Most marketers won’t be shocked to find out that the majority of businesses don’t have a brand book, a brand manifesto, with their brand values all spelled out.
You see, brands are set up so fast nowadays that some essential parts of their identities are overlooked for the purposes of efficiency.
When designing your buyer persona, these values can serve as inspiration for the profile you are building.
After all, brand values are really the pillars on which one brand will be built. These will also define the course of the marketing decisions such as the CSR program.
For instance, how would you know which NGO to support between a children’s protection NGO and rehabilitation and social reintegration of prisoners NGO?
It would all boil down to finding the red thread that connects your business with the NGO; ultimately, if all businesses were active to a similar extent, it would be an institution of sorts.
In turn, this would inspire their customers to do the same, and follow suit – provided they were aligned and the match was a successful one, well-supported and properly articulated and communicated by the company.
Mission & Vision, and the Buyer Persona
Can you link in your mission with your brand values?
If so, then you can link your mission with your buyer personas’ goals and dreams. The vision is your brand in the future, after it has developed and grown. The mission is what it has set out to do now, as an ongoing task.
The past of the brand is reflected by the quality of the branding that you have been working on. This is how you can bring together past, present, and future of the brand and the reflection of your consumers, in a realistic way.
How does this connect to buyer personas?
Your mission and vision must overlap with your persona’s goals, dreams, plans, and wishes. There must be a common ground for value-sharing and ethics.
Branding and the Buyer Persona
Your branding is a set of visually identifiable components (visual identity; colors, symbols, aesthetics, etc.) and your positioning.
Your buyer persona needs to qualify as a brand ambassador in that it should bear the same branding.
To design the perfect buyer persona, keep in mind that positioning is the ultimate step of the golden threefold method of Segmentation – Targeting – Positioning (STP).
STP is essential in that we differentiate our brand from the competition through positioning.
Essentially, this involves mapping the industry, finding your spot.
For example, if your branding consists of electric blue and purple elements, then you should make sure that these do not clash with your target audience’s favorite basketball team(s).
I’ve seen my fair share of fans going to extreme lengths for the clubs they support, including not wearing the colors of their biggest opponents’ jerseys.
You can’t afford to throw away a fantastic marketing concept because your marketing communication was built on the wrong foundations.
If you are laser-targeting an audience down to their favorite teams, then be prepared to make such decisions carefully.
Not to mention that doing so will also help you contextualize your buyer persona attributes.
Mapping your buyer personas
Having mentioned the aspect of choosing the right colors (or avoiding to choose the wrong ones), I would like to bring to your attention the aspect of higher ROI.
Now I have your attention, don’t I?
I’m going to share with you one of the secrets when writing my 2oo-page thesis on [a very, very interesting three-line Marketing topic].
So here’s my [non-billable] secret:
What does your creative process involve when designing ads and packaging? How conscious are the decisions you make about color or shape?
How can you tell that you are not projecting your personal aesthetics to your target audience? In other words, how well-informed is your communication design?
Successful advertisements and packaging design mirror their target audiences’ preferences on many levels. So, beyond designing the perfect product (surely, quality is the unquestionable number 1 factor) we need to consider color, wording, design, use of humor, etc.
All these increase the likelihood to be accepted by the target audience, to be identified as of the same clan, and thus be embraced.
But this must take place in a way that appears most genuine, in the form of simulacra almost! The consumer must see in the brand what they believe in.
How does this connect to buyer personas?
Aesthetics and design can be matched to art shows and gallery events that are of interest to your buyer persona/audience.
Making it to the event and sponsoring the right event for your target audience shows you empathize with your customers/users. And THAT is how emotional bonds are formed.
How to create buyer persona templates
Before we start, maybe you can think of somebody who could be your ideal customer!
Could it be someone you know?
If not, then pick the friend of your who could be closest to what your target audience would be, and then proceed to add more characteristics.
I have set out to create buyer persona examples for Russian women who love traveling and aspire to become travel bloggers.
Given the fact that I know not of any Russian women personally, I will resort to a friend of mine who qualifies for every other characteristic of the target audience [except for the origin].
Following this, to achieve a most realistic representation, I will be carrying out a full-depth research on all Russian mid-80s trends, from music to toys that that generation grew up playing, to TV commercials airing back then, to scandals, and so on.
In the meantime, given the cultural gap (besides the time gap), I will turn to either forums of 35-year-old women to look for the language they use (with the help of a Russian interpreter; it should be specified that an interpreter will not simply translate from one language to another, but will provide equivalents of the words used in the target language.
Also, an ethnologist’s contribution will be highly appreciated in the process, along with a cultural analysis of the nation – see Gertrude Hofstede’s cultural dimensions.
To better design my buyer persona, I will extend my study to other influencers in the industry, of different origin this time, since due to the globalization trend there is a notable convergence trend across nations.
Don’t forget to add extra touches to encourage identification among your target audience.
How to create buyer personas – Quick Overview
- Describe the company: brand values, mission, vision, history.
- Regarding your business, what is your Why? Why are you offering this service/product? This is your mission.
- What do you seek to fix? What is your vision?
- Where do you come from? How are you connected to this brand and field and purpose?
- Describe the landscape of your product/service: Is it trending, growing, stable, up-and-coming?
Is this about to change any time soon? What is the speed of development?
- Describe the target audience: demographics, etc. What country are they based in?
- Do they travel regularly? Where to? If not, why not?
- What is their average income? Where does it come from? Are they entrepreneurs? If so, are they digital entrepreneurs or traditional ones? Do they work for major businesses or SMEs? What is their role (Management, etc)?
- And what about their influences in music/food/fashion? What were their role models as kids? Where did they use to get inspiration from? What are the most intimate memories they have of their childhood?
- Are they active on social media? Which channels? How engaged are they?
- Why do they need your product?
- Why do they prefer your product over your competition?
- What are their concerns regarding your product?
- How about their most common complaints regarding your product?
- What are their favorite aspects of your product?
- According to your expectations, what product will your users be looking for next? Is it going to be an enhanced version of your existing product or a new product altogether? How innovative are your customers?
Start putting together the buyer persona. Remember, since there can be more target groups, i.e. primary target group, secondary one, etc., you can have more personas.
In a nutshell
✔ Congratulations for reading this far (unless you skipped your way here, in which case…Buckle up, scroll your way to the top of the article, let’s get some work done, I promise it’s fun)!
✔ Start small; create the most vague/minimal/tentative buyer persona. This is good for Day 1.
✔ Now we need to dig a little deeper. Do a little research on your available insights and logs to find information you can use in your user profile. Good enough for Day 2.
✔ Let’s get social! Ask around at the departments interacting with customers on the daily. Ask them to share anecdotal stories with you, or incidents that stuck with them. You can also ask them to directly chip into your developing buyer personas. Your doing so will increase engagement on their part and they will be more likely to channel their expert, critic approach to help you out. End of Day 3.
✔ By now you have covered the most major aspects of creating a buyer persona. It’s about time for you to go back and skim through this article for the bonus tips and ideas to walk the extra mile in your design.
Thanks for sticking around until the end of the article!
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