Posts Tagged persona
Companies that really understand their customers and their needs are more successful. They have better insight into what drives their customers and so can deliver products and services that are a close fit to their requirements. In smaller companies you develop that understanding day-to-day by talking with customers and prospects. But as businesses get larger, that closeness to the customer can get lost. Managers and sales staff may still meet with customers regularly but often production and operational and even marketing staff are isolated from regular client contact. Eventually this lack of interaction leads to products and marketing campaigns that don’t work because you are building and selling something your customers don’t want. You are busy creating “solutions to non-problems”, to quote Lucky Jim.
Buyer Personas are a way to keep your business aligned with your customers. They are a way to “step into the shoes” of your customers and see the world from their point of view. You use them to gain deeper understanding of your customers and then share that understanding across your business. Buyer Personas are summarised descriptions of an ‘imaginary person’ who represents your typical customers. Personas are based on customer interviews and direct observation. Combined with standard customer profiles and market research they provide a very powerful way to keep your marketing and product development focused on real customer needs.
Why Should You Use Buyer Personas?
- They will help you to promote your products and services more effectively by understanding what your customers want, what criteria they use when selecting a vendor, their online habits etc.
- They will help you sell more effectively through understanding your customers’ industry, business and terminology and the issues that are of most concern to them
- For online businesses, they should help you increase your customer acquisition rate
- For marketers, they help you understand what kind of content will bring customers to you online and how their buying process typically works
- Overall, it should reduce promotion costs because it enables you to focus your efforts and resources to generate better results
How Do You Develop Buyer Personas?
Step 1. Define your ‘Ideal customer’
The first step we recommend is to define your “Ideal Customer” – what kinds of businesses and people within those businesses would you like to win on a regular basis? The best way to do that is to think about the customers you already have. Which customers are your favourite and why? Which customers really value and understand what you do? Try ranking them using factors like revenue, profitability and ease of doing business.
Once you have a ranked list of your favourite customers, start categorizing them into groups using factors like:
- Their industry sectors
- Their location
- Size e.g. typical turnover, number of staff
- The markets they target
You will now have a list of ideal customers categorized into one or more target sectors.
Step 2. Identify the Typical People You Interact with at those Companies
Now you’ve identified your ideal target customer companies the next step is to think about who you commonly deal with in those companies. Do you regularly have to convince a technology buyer before you can make a sale? Do you have to present to people in finance or other departments? Who are the users of your product or service? Who generally makes the final purchase decision? Typical roles can include one of the following types of people (but this may be different for your product and company):
Step 3. Interview Some of Your Customers
To create your first Buyer Persona, pick one of these roles and list the last 4 or 5 people you have dealt with who has that function at your favourite customer companies – for example, the last 5 Technical Buyers you’ve dealt with. Pull together a set of questions you would like to discuss with these people. The questions will include things like
- How do they describe their role and responsibilities?
- What are their major work goals now and for the future?
- Why did they choose you and your product?
- What do they use your product to do?
- What do they like about working with you?
- What do they think you could do better?
- How do they typically buy new products and services?
- What are the main criteria they use?
- Where do they gather information?
- Where do they go online for work purposes?
Now schedule some face-to-face meetings or telephone interviews with your customers. It is important to do this on a person-to-person basis – you can’t build a Personas using email surveys, focus groups or research reports. They have to be based on direct conversations between you and your customers.
As you complete your first interviews you will start to build up a clearer picture of their jobs and their requirements.
Step 4. Draft the first personas
Now try creating a composite description of an ‘imaginary’ buyer who represents a version of the people you’ve been talking to. This should be a one or two page document that lists the key characteristics and attributes of this type of person at your typical customer. This will include data like their age, gender and role. But unlike normal ‘customer profiles’, which describe things like demographic data, Personas also try to capture a richer picture including the buyer’s attitudes, goals, behaviours and preferences. You are trying to build a description that sounds like a real human being, not a statistical snapshot. The Persona should describe how and why they make decisions, what their goals and aspirations are, and what their needs and priorities are in relation to your type of product or service. Add a photograph or some other image of a person to help make the description seem concrete and real.
As a checklist when writing your Persona , ask the following:
- Does the Persona sound like a real person?
- Does the Persona highlight useful insights e.g. buying preferences, concerns, unmet needs?
- Will this Persona help me when I’m making decisions about how to market to them or what features to add to my product?
- Is my Persona description usable by others in the organisation – sales, product development, marketing?
Step 5. Enrich Your Personas with Market Research and Other Data
When you have completed your first draft you can start looking at market research and other quantitative data as a way to enrich the picture you have of your customers. For example, reports that predict change in the use of technology among your target buyers might be useful, or survey data that provides additional insight into their needs and preferences. But as we already emphasized, this secondary information should only be used after you’ve actually spoken with a number of your customers to get first-hand insights into what they want from you and your products.
Step 6. Rinse and Repeat
Try building out personas for the 2 or 3 key roles at your main target customers. It will be hard to develop and use more than 5 or 6 compelling Personas so try to keep it simple – focus on those customers and buyers who are really important to you and your business.