Many brand managers and entrepreneurs are given to making big budget marketing decisions without thinking who their prospective customer is. It is a move fraught with absolute danger because the paybacks on such investments could be disproportionately less compared to expectation. It is the equivalent of starting a business with no business plan and hoping to make profits.
Marketing Automation company Hubspot very appropriately defines buyer personas as the following:
Semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer based on real data and some select educated speculation about customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals.
But why do buyer personas matter?
We all need clues to match our products and service with the customer needs but we do not know how our offerings fit the customer needs. Additionally, it serves a great purpose to find behavioral handle onto a customer profile, the dependencies around decision making and the constraints that could hamper the prospects of a sale, or, enabler buttons that can quickly close a sale.
If you start communicating with your prospective customers and don’t factor in buyer personas, your communication will lack the persuasive power to steer her towards a sale. For instance, you may just about be emphasising on cost savings whereas the customer could be looking at a high-quality outcome in a shorter delivery cycle. Personas provide us with clues on possible behavior and helps you position your offerings more appropriately. This is especially true in the services business, particularly in technology led services business, where sales is not in standardized packets custom to every transaction.
Let’s examine the concept of personas. We take the case of a Dance School, a Dental Service, and a Furniture Store to illustrate the point.
Let’s examine the above persona. In this case, we can clearly see an aspiration to learn dance driven by social visibility needs (clue 1), Ritika is probably lonely at times because of her husband pilot’s nature of job (clue 2), fairly independent(clue 3), has the ability to spend(clue 4), having difficulty managing her waistline (clue 5). It is clear that the communication to her should emphasize on how dance can get her fitness and social inclusiveness without interrupting her routine. On the other hand, a price point positioning in the newsletter or pamphlet by the dance school as the cheapest dance school will be absolutely disastrous!
In the above case we can see that the family has a single income(clue 1), family has a loan, the lifestyle profile is frugal which indicates low propensity or ability to spend(clue 2), the family has academic aspiration for the children which indicates possible emphasis to save money (clue 3), family wants to buy another house, which indicates upcoming loan/mortgage(clue 4). The family has to necessarily visit the dentist every month on account of a child’s dental treatment (clue 5). The missus cannot go a far away dentist on account of her driving inhibition (clue 6). [Note: Most Indians don’t have insurance that covers medical treatment].
Taking the available clues into account, the dental clinic would do well not to pitch very expensive dental implants or the most expensive cosmetic dentistry. Also, ‘best-in-town’ messaging may not win them patients from all over the time, but the neighbourhood reassurance may work well. And localized newspaper inserts might work better than emailers in such cases!
The last example is a furniture store.
By examining the above persona, it clear that though they have clear triggers to buy furniture on account of their impending wedding and need to furnish the house (clue 1), they are keen to emigrate to another country (clue 2). The lady, though carrying a student loan, is the key decision maker. Such customers may not but an ivory studded bed, but more of functional furniture.
With some clever work, businesses can develop buyer personas that help in hitting the customer with the right communication message. Typically, large enterprises can develop hundreds of personas but it is recommended to build 8-10 to be operationally viable. Smaller enterprises can develop 4-6 buyer personas.
Developing buyer personas can help shape an organisations inbound and outbound marketing strategy. It can help define the website, emailer and social media content. Above all, it can help in achieving better conversion of leads. Give it a try.