What’s a Buyer Persona?
A buyer persona is a description of your ideal customer. They are the person you choose your stock for, knowing they will want every item. You write product descriptions to answer their questions and use social media to share content you know they’ll enjoy. Even if you haven’t sold anything yet, this is the person you’re confident is just waiting to become a loyal customer for your brand.
Whatever you want to sell, however you plan to market your business, knowing your customer is the first step. The more in-depth your understanding of your target’s internal motivators, the easier it will be to persuade them to buy from you.
But how can you know your customer before you’ve even sold something?
Socrates said that people appear ridiculous when they try to know obscure things before they know themselves – advice as true today as it was 2,400 years ago.
For you to find your ideal customer, you’re going to have to do some personal inventory. You need to know your brand story before you can decide how it will fit into your customer’s story.
- What inspired me to start this business?
- Does my main product or service fulfil a need?
- What are the advantages and drawbacks to using my main product?
- How is my service different to/better than others out there?
Speak to the individual
Now you know yourself, you’re ready to get to know your customer. Note that I’m using the singular ‘customer’. That’s because it’s far easier to speak and capture the attention of one person you know very well than it is to connect with a crowd of people you vaguely recognise. Writing to capture the attention of a passive crowd is like hearding kittens.
All the best performing copy speaks to the reader as if it was written just for them.
As a brand, you shouldn’t be presenting information about yourself to a passive audience. You should be looking to find where you fit in and establishing the role you can play in your customers’ story. Sharing stories that help your customer answer their own questions and complete their own journey. The story centres around them, not you.
Let the customer be the star
Your ideal customer is the focus of everything you put out. They are the star of your story and you speak directly to them. The role of your brand is to support and enable them.
But here’s the good part; as the brand storyteller, it’s up to you to define your star’s characteristics.
That’s right, you get to decide who you want to do business with. Isn’t that liberating? Instead of desperately trying to be the perfect match for anyone and everyone (a mistake many businesses make — thus coming off as bland and boring customers) you just need to stay true to your brand and send the call out for people whose journey you want to be a part of.
It’s up to you to find the real-life customer that fits those characteristics so you can sell your product or service to them. So how do you decide on what the ideal characteristics are for the star of your brand story? How do you fill out that buyer profile?
Through a combination of spycraft, psychology, and imagination.
One of the easiest ways to get real-world information is to look at who’s going to your competitor for the same products you offer.
The first thing you need to do is identify the top competitors in your niche. That’s super easy. Just do a quick Google search for your main product and look at what appears. Look for brands and retailers who focus on products you sell. Go to their websites. Familiarise yourself with how they speak to their customers.
- Which product features do they focus on?
- What kind of product and lifestyle images do they use?
- How do they use language and tone?
Sign up for their mailing lists. You can learn a lot from looking at the mail your competitors send to customers.
Another place where your competitors can feed you with valuable information for your buyer persona is social media. Look at your competitors social accounts and see which platforms and kinds of posts are getting the most interaction for them. Note how often they post and at what time of day. Although you’re not looking to copy these details, you can certainly learn from your competitor’s behaviour and hopefully improve on it.
Marketing is full of assumptions. But e-commerce is just as full of stories of businesses that prove the assumptions are not always true. Millennials can only digest 140-character blurbs. Older people don’t know how to use the Internet or mobile devices properly. Only middle-class mums, professional men, teenage girls, or senior citizens buy things like mine. Assumptions like these block any chance of learning about and reaching the people who are truly interested in your brand.
Collect data, analyse, repeat.
Study all of the insights and analytics you can get from your social media accounts and how your target customers interact with you. Think about the back end of your website too. With all this data, you’ll be able to see who is following you and looking at your content. You’ll be able to identify what’s boosting user activity and what’s not making an impact at all.
As you learn more about your customers, don’t forget to go back and continually re-define your buyer personas to ensure you’re targeting your potential customers most effectively.
Regularly collecting data can help you keep refining your marketing efforts to target customers you want. Everything you learn will help you fine tune future marketing campaigns and zero in on your potential customers.