You may have the best product in the world, but if you don’t know your customer, you’ll never make the sale.
This adage rings just as true for B2C sales as it does for face-to-face transactions. Profitable sales strategies never stop at addressing the correct target audience or marketing the most relevant product.
To secure a good market share, the first thing businesses need to acknowledge is Who is their customer. This is where the term “buyer persona” becomes important to understand.
What is a buyer persona?
A buyer persona is essentially the profile of the key purchasers of your product or service. It represents the demographic, financial and psychological aspects of your customers.
In essence, it can be viewed as a barometer of what makes your audience “tick” from a sales point of view.
Why are buyer personas important?
Simply put, only by knowing your buyer persona, you will be able to understand what he or she desires and thus become confident that you are targeting the right people with the right product.
This will save you time and energy as well as help you run your campaigns more effectively and understand and address the specific needs of your buyers. Some examples of companies that have well profiled buyer personas include Apple, Zipcar and Procter & Gamble.
What do I need to create a buyer persona?
What needs to be determined to correctly identify a persona is a mix of basic psychological drivers as well as motivational factors.
The variables listed below may be used for various sales models:
- Expectations – what does the customer expect from what you are offering?
- Buying Decisions – what factors will a lead consider when deciding whether to buy your product?
- Involvement – how often do buyers use your product? (this can help correlate to the effectiveness of the product itself)
- Enthusiasm – how happy are they with what they have purchased and the level of support (if applicable) they have received?
- Barriers – what would your buyers change about the product, customer engagement, or both.
- Demographics – this is a powerful metric that shows you where the majority of your customers originate from. It can be measured in geographic area, gender, income or a host of other concepts.
How can I measure the buyer persona variables?
A great place to begin is the most logical area: your existing customers. They will represent most accurately the future type of leads that you wish to qualify. The advantage here is that, since they are already involved with your business, they will be much more open regarding what their specific needs or desires are.
One-time or periodic voluntary surveys are an excellent way to profile the persona of your customers. At Advanced Web Ranking, we are using Survey Monkey to run customer surveys. This information is then aggregated with the data we collect on Support channels.
Conversely, when visitors are interested in your products but not yet ready to be an active customer, signup and registration forms, comments and other various techniques can be very useful in determining their interests and other applicable information. We are using Lead Converter, an engagement tool that we developed initially as an in-house solution to help us improve our website conversion (you can read the full story here).
How many buyer personas should I have?
While it is an industry belief that between two and seven personas should adequately represent most types of purchasers, this number is highly dependent on your ability to differentiate the discreet motivators and characteristics which turn a lead into a sale.
The number also correlates to the size and scope of your operation, the current amount of customers your business provides for, and the actual product you sell (for instance, a very specific product such as spelunking equipment will most likely represent a niche market and therefore you will encounter less buyer personas then if you were mass marketing running shoes).
People are not binary, they are not categorized by simple “yes” and “no” questions and neither should sales campaigns take on such a characteristic. The criteria described above are adaptable and fluid, just as marketing campaigns may need to be.
The most important thing here is that by identifying different traits you have the ability to adjust your sales campaigns and ensure an efficient process of qualifying and converting leads.
Once you become aware of the different buyer personas that represent your customers, you should be able to focus more on the marketing for the audience that is most likely to convert.
I’d love to learn what other variables you take into account when profiling your buyer personas. Please share your thoughts in the comments section.
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