Most of marketing is really communication. When you communicate with people in your life, you don’t do so the same way for every person. Your answer to questions or your opinions on certain subjects are quite different depending on who it is you are talking to. That’s because we have been conditioned since a young age that our messages are received differently by different people. So we do our best every day to carefully tailor our messages to the people we interact with.
The same is true for marketing a business and the messaging that we put out for our prospects. You will not have much success crafting effective marketing messages without first knowing who your target market is. One of the most effective ways to visualize a target market is by creating buyer personas.
A buyer persona is a fictional character that represents a member of your target market and has real character attributes associated with them. Buyer personas are a great way to divide your market into groups that are easier to understand and design messaging for. Data for how to assign character attributes to a fictional buyer persona could come from anywhere including:
- Information you already have gathered about prospects in databases
- Market research
- Common knowledge
- Focus groups
- Customer feedback
- The types of products/services you sell
Virtually any data you collect from any source about your target market is fair game. Be creative and think of unlikely places where you might find data about people interested in your products or services.
No One Cares About You
When you go to create your buyer personas, keep in mind that you should have a customer-centric focus. One of the biggest mistakes companies make in their marketing is talking about themselves and their products or services. When consumers see messaging like this, they couldn’t care less. Buyers only care about how their needs can be met or how a product or service can deliver results for them and nothing more.
When you develop your buyer personas, don’t think about what they can do for your company, but about what your company can do for them. A good value proposition will talk about the outcomes a product or service can provide for a consumer. In order to do that, you must approach this messaging in a way that shows consumers you want to help solve some type of pain or provide value.
A great way to get started creating buyer personas is to interview the people who could be your customers. You could pick current customers or people who are similar to your past customers who have not purchased from you. Once you have people like this picked out, ask them very broad and open-ended questions that relate to your business, but that are not directly related to the products and/or services that you offer. Ask them questions related to pain they may be having that your product or service might be able to help alleviate.
You can then take these answers and develop a profile of the different buyers that you are catering to. For instance, if you were running a company that offered auto detailing, you might find people who could potentially be your customers and ask them, “how often do you clean your car?” “Is having a clean car important to you?” “Are you always able to find the time to clean your car?” “What do you dislike about cleaning your own car?” If you plan on targeting multiple markets, you should find people to interview that fit each one.
Naming Your Personas
After you have profiled your personas, you should apply a name to them as well as an image. This helps to make the entire process more realistic and visual. Keep in mind these are fictional characters and are only representative of people you have interviewed or information you have gathered. When you have a name and a face to associate your marketing activities with, you can create more customized messaging and better identify with your target audience.
Some companies have even been known to keep jelly bean charts or simple images of their buyer personas in work areas so that they keep these people in mind. In terms of your value proposition, you should be trying to figure out what results your personas want to hear about, and not what your company can offer.
The main goal in developing buyer personas should be to uncover what results your potential customers are looking for. Remember that people don’t really buy your products or services; they buy results. In line with that thought, people buy for their own reasons and not for yours. Remember also that people hate to be sold, yet everyone likes to buy stuff.
Creating a visual representation of the character attributes and desired results that our potential customers have is important to keep us on course. It is so easy in the process of trying to sell something to lose sight of who we are marketing to and slip into a process of talking about ourselves. Doing so adds no real value in our messaging.
How do you develop buyer personas? Have they helped you target a market more effectively? Join in the conversation by leaving a comment below.