One of the most mind-blowing exercises that I have done in 2016 is to invest an entire month in creating buyer personas for my business. And it has changed how I approach marketing and digital marketing for good. Marketing without buyer personas is like flying in the dark and shooting randomly.
If you are not able to scale your marketing efforts and get the breakthroughs you've always wanted, it's probably because you do not understand your target customers well enough. If all of us take logical and sound buying decisions, then this exercise is probably not required. But people make emotional buying decisions. Buying decisions are influenced not just by the needs and wants but by a plethora of other variables that defines who our customers are. Without knowing them, your marketing will probably fail.
People do not want a quarter inch drill; they want a quarter inch hole. But it's not just the hole they want; they probably want to drive a nail into it, to hang a painting, to feel good when their guests walk into their living room. Customers needs go deep and you have to get to the bottom of it.
If you are in the business of creating a product or service for your closest friends, you would probably do an excellent job at marketing it to them. Do you know your customers that well? Do you understand what they do in their day, what drives them, their long-term goals, their deepest fears?
Understanding your customers helps you in making your marketing communication better. But you cannot know each and every customer individually. Each business has different sets of buyers. You have to create a buyer persona for each and every set.
For example, I have three sets of buyers for my digital marketing courses: students who want a future in digital marketing, professionals who want to switch to digital marketing field and business owners who want to scale their business with digital marketing.
They have different needs and wants. I have distinct buyer personas for each set, and I give a name to that persona. When I write emails to my audience, I write with one persona in mind. With every word I write, I think about this specific person who I am helping with my products. I also use personas to segment my emails list and mail them accordingly.
Your customers, though a large set, receive your marketing communication individually. When you are writing emails, ad copies, social media posts or any kind of marketing communication, you need to write to one person. And having a buyer persona helps you a lot in crafting the right marketing messages.
How to Develop Buyer Personas
Now that you have understood the importance of buyer personas, let's talk about how to develop these personas. The best way to develop a buyer persona is to understand the demographics and psychographics of your existing customers.
You can design a survey and send out to your existing clients. More often than not, you need to incentivize to get them to spend 15-20 minutes of their time to answer your questions. Usually, an online gift card works well in most of the cases. If you are selling digital products, you can give free access to your product or offer a free upgrade.
Once you have surveyed 20-40 customers, you have to collate the data and average it out and identify major groups of clients who have similar characteristics. You can even call a few of your customers and talk to them. This will help you understand them in so many levels and it will reflect in your marketing communication.
Once you start this exercise, it will build a momentum of its own. Every new information that you collect about your customer will be a seed for new marketing ideas. Most of the businesses would have 2-7 buyer personas. Be careful not to build more than 7 buyer personas, else your marketing efforts will get diluted over many personas.
Once you have a set of buyer personas, the next step is to craft marketing communication that appeals to each of these personas. When you do marketing this way, your conversion ratios will increase across all the levels of your marketing funnel. You will start seeing better CTRs, better landing page conversions, more engagement and more customers.