You may think buyer personas are some touchy-feely marketing thing that has nothing to do with your business.
I used to think that, too. “Why do I need to spend time writing stories about customers who don’t exist? I have real work to do!”
Then I read some information about buyer personas while trying to complete a project for a client one day, and I realized that if I could just get a clear picture of my client’s prospect, I’d know how to position a tricky concept. In my mind I created a quick buyer persona for the prospect, gave him a name, and was able to write my copy much quicker and with a new clarity.
Since that day I’ve learned to use buyer personas in all sorts of unique ways:
- They help me choose colors and materials when we are designing customer trade show experiences.
- They help me tune out the distractions when writing – I imagine a conversation instead.
- Knowing my buyer persona helps me overcome common objectives.
- Different buyer personas respond better to different calls-to-action
Guidelines for Developing Personas
Look at your email list. Hopefully it is a reflection of your customer base. Look at the various “types” of customers on your list. Do they fall into groups? You are segmenting your email list. For Visual Creatives we had buyer personas fall into several categories, including agency partners, small business owners, and marketing professionals working in various industries.
Write a buyer persona for each significant group of your ideal customer. Notice that I said ideal! We’ve all had those customers we’d rather not work with again — you can create a “negative” buyer persona to help you identify the clientele you do not want to work with, as well!
Remember that this is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. You will be making up details based on your experience with your prospects. If you get stuck on representing your persona, do some research. Call a few contacts who share their characteristics and interview them. Believe it or not, that’s easier than it sounds and sometimes even leads to sales conversations!
Every time you create a piece of content, keep one of your buyer personas in your mind and write the piece as if you were speaking to them. Use the words you imagine your buyer persona would use. Craft the article just for them.
Get Started Writing Your Persona
Begin with a list of buyer persona questions Here are a few we use:
- Describe the physical characteristics of your persona: male or female? How old?
- Is your persona married? Responsible for others? A single parent? Consider all the demographics that you can imagine.
- What is a typical day in the life of your persona? What job do they go to, if they have one? What other roles do they play? How much leisure time do they have? What do they do in the evenings?
- Where does your persona get their information? This is an important one – don’t skip it! Do they go to Facebook first? Twitter? Google? Are they more television watchers than internet users? Do they read newspapers? Books?
- What are your persona’s goals? What are their personal goals? Their professional goals? What areas overlap with the products or services that you offer?
- What are your persona’s pain points? What are the problems that have driven them to the internet to search for answers? What are the components to their pain issues? Can you create a list of their pain components so you can craft content around solving those pains? Be as specific as possible in detailing the pain points. This will be valuable information later on.
- What experience is the buyer persona hoping to have with your company? Can you describe what the “best” experience they could have with your company?
- What objections will your buyer persona raise to your service? What will be the points in the buyer’s journey that may sidetrack this particular persona?
Now Write the Persona
Don’t just write a dull narrative. Try to give your persona his or her own unique voice. Embellish their story, and write in the first person. The more detailed your persona story, the more fully he or she will represent your ideal customer and the easier it will be for you to write a compelling piece of content.
Repeat this process with your other personas, one by one, giving each persona their own personality. If you get tired, break the job up. Skimping on your persona development will result in lifeless brand stories. And don’t forget! You cana always stop and do some more research on your buyer personas, add some details, let them changes as your ideal customer focuses or changes. This is a process — and one of the more fun parts of your marketing plan!