Creating a Buyer Persona to help target your communication activities
Some of you out there like to jump right into the tactics of communicating.
I get it.
It’s fun to start diving into social media posts, designing the visuals, or planning that great Instagram story that you’ve been thinking of.
But what if you completely miss your target because you’re focused on the wrong tactics?
That’s where a good Buyers Persona can help in the early stages of the communication planning process.
What is a Buyer Persona?
A buyer persona is essentially a planning product.
It is a visual and written representation of who you are trying to target your communication activities towards.
The HubSpot definition of Buyer Persona is:
A semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.
For me, the buyer persona is a method to help target your communication activities when you are starting to develop a communication campaign.
It allows you to narrow your view and focus your communication planning efforts toward a specific individual(s), and not waste time developing communication solutions for a wide group of people that you are not trying to reach.
If you burn some gray matter (brain cells) and spend a little time in the planning process developing a Buyer Persona, it could ultimately save you time and money down the road.
What does the Buyer Persona look like?
If you search for the term “Buyer Persona” and look at the image results, you will get a lot of ideas on what some of them can look like.
Here’s the deal.
Pick something actually useful for your organization.
Don’t create something that will just sit in a hard drive folder and will never be opened again.
If an 8X10 page that can be hung on a bulletin board with a generic photo and some basic information is useful for you, then by all means use that format.
If you really want to do a deep dive and develop a white paper on a specific persona, then do that.
The more data you have and the more research you can do, the more likely you will have that moment of enlightenment…that nugget of information that is discovered that takes your communication planning efforts off in a whole new direction.
If you’re just beginning to start a business, I would make your persona a little generic because while you want to target your efforts, you also don’t know yet who your customers will be.
If you already have a lot of data from previous customers like sales, testimonials, contact info, etc, then you may be able to use more specific information to refine your persona.
What does the Buyer Persona consist of?
Four areas help in the development of a Buyer Persona: Demographics, Psychographics, Geographics, and Behavior.
Basic demographics like age, gender, marital status, income, race, religion, and anything else you can think of that might be relevant for your organization.
Do you now know any of this information? Not a problem. This is semi-fictional, remember?
You are creating a representation of a person whom you think is your ideal customer.
You are assuming some details about your persona so that it can provide focus later on.
As you gain customers and get more data, you can then take some of those assumptions and replace them with known information.
While traditional demographics focus on primarily the external, Psychographics attempts to get inside the person’s mind.
It is the motivations, values, interests, and frustrations of an individual.
Using personality types is one way to help address the psychographics of an individual.
Of the four areas, psychographics is by far the hardest to address because it is not something that can be easily measured or perceived.
If you can incorporate surveys into any of your platforms, like a social media poll, a brief in-person questionnaire, or a post-purchase survey, you may be able to develop a better sense of your customer’s motivations without being too intrusive.
Geographics can sometimes be included with Demographics, but in this case, we’ll keep it separate.
Information like city, state, region, and country are some of the basic demographic information you can look for.
One additional area is crucial to communication planning, and that is Internet geography.
What are the websites that this person typically goes to?
What are the social media pages that they follow?
What are the online communities that this person belongs to and whom do they trust to get their information from?
All of this can help paint a picture of who this person is, and how, when, where, and from who do they like to receive their information from.
Consumer behavior is an area that can really allow you to develop a picture of this person.
It is a data-driven process and the information can be gained based on interactions with your website.
If you have established a conversion funnel on your website, you can then use Google Analytics to see what path people are taking.
Where are they entering your site?
What CTA are they most frequently using?
Where do they spend the most amount of their time?
With all the data, you can begin to analyze the buyer’s behavior, create a hypothesis, and utilize A/B testing to validate what you think to be true.
By being active and repeatedly conducting these “science experiments,” you will gain an appreciation for the behavioral aspects of a persona and figure out how to influence their buyer’s journey so that they are receiving the most relevant information in the least amount of time.
I’ve created a Buyer Persona, now what do I do with it?
Now that you have developed a Buyer Persona, the next step is to improve the content that you are producing for that persona.
The Buyer Persona helps provides focus.
Rather than producing overly generic products, it helps you start producing more specific and therefore, more relevant content for your semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer.
But what if my buyer persona is wrong?
You can of course have more than one persona, in fact, I’d recommend developing a variety of personas especially in the beginning.
As you continue to get more information and either validate or invalidate the assumptions you made when developing the personas, you can discard those personas that are not useful and continue to develop those personas that are useful.
So spend a little time in the planning process, burn some gray matter, and develop a good set of Buyers Personas to help focus your communication activities.
It can save you time and money over the long run.