Buyer personas are generalized representations of your ideal customers. You may have heard the seemingly silly alliterative names like “Enterprise Ed” or “Small Biz Sally” before (there is a purpose – the naming devices improves memory and helps usage). Defining your own personas - as specifically as possible - helps you understand your prospective and existing customers better. This way, you can more easily tailor marketing content and channels, sales pitches, customer service assistance and even product or feature development to the needs, behaviors and concerns of different customer groups.
Buyer personas equip you to attract the prospects and customers you want – those prospects that are most likely to convert and that will benefit most from your product or service, to become the most profitable customers for your business.
You can also establish non-target personas, or negative personas, to depict the kind of customers you don’t want. These personas represent prospects and customers that will not benefit from your product or service and won’t be profitable for your company. When you weed them out, you can maximize the efficiency of your sales and marketing.
The entire organization benefits, though sales and marketing tend to be the functions that live and breathe by the established buyer personas. Here are some ways organizations can (and should) use buyer personas to inform their decisions:
Understand target personas’ preferences and habits to inform your marketing strategies, from content creation to advertising to channels of focus and so on.
Understand what resonates with prospects as you define sales and marketing messaging.
Learn how to educate your prospects at the top of the funnel so they're primed for a sales conversation.
Segment and contextualize your interactions through the funnel (and entire customer lifecycle) to each target persona.
Inform product development and prioritization according to target personas’ challenges and needs.
How to develop your buyer personas
Get the right people involved. Typically, you’ll at least want representation from customer-facing teams: marketing, sales, customer success or account management and customer service. Depending on your organization, you might bring in other functions or executives, as well.
Establish your target personas. Each persona should be unique – they may represent buyers from different market segments or different functions and job roles. If you have different business units, you may need to develop personas for each line of business. Finally, remember that the buyer does not always end up as the user. If that’s the case in your business, consider developing target buyer personas and user personas.
Start defining your personas. You want to describe your target personas in as much detail as possible, so you can most effectively target and engage with prospects and customers. Each persona’s description should have a breakdown of demographics, job and industry overview, motivations, personality and purchasing behavior, and key messaging points. (Download this free template for a full breakdown).
You can gather this information through a mix of methods:
First-hand conversations with or knowledge of your ideal existing customers
First-hand conversations with prospects during the sales cycle
Generalized trends extracted from your customer databases
Third-party market research and demographic data
This is a sampling of questions you might answer as you develop your personas:
How do prospects hear about you and how do they find you?
What was their motivation for initiating a sales conversation?
What are their challenges or pain points in their business and how do you help them achieve their goals and overcome their challenges?
What were their buying criteria?
What made them pull the trigger on a purchase?
What questions did they ask during the sales process, or what do they ask the customer care team?
Go forth and conquer
Now that you’ve created your personas, put them to use. Present your target personas to your organization and educate teams on why they should familiarize themselves with the personas and how to use them.
With the information and guidance you now have:
Refine your messaging to better attract and resonate with prospects;
Train your sales team to relate to prospects’ challenges and goals, and handle common objections; and
Optimize your marketing plan to reach your target audiences on the channels they use.
Your business will reap the rewards from efficiently targeting your ideal market.
Create your own Enterprise Eds and Small Biz Sallys: Download our free buyer persona template.