Understanding Your Ideal Customer Persona.
When you’re creating content, do you know who you are talking to?
Is she a mother of two who’s burping a baby with one hand while reading your blog post on her tablet with another?
Or maybe she’s a young, single woman getting ready to go out for a night on the town.
These are two very different people that might be in your target audience, but you can’t speak to both of them at the same time..
Why are Buyer Personas so important?
Because if you are selling baby products, your buyer persona is more likely to resemble the first woman.
And you need to know that woman!
Know her lingo… where she hangs out…what keeps her up at night.
In order to align your content marketing strategy with your business objectives…
Or, in more human terms:
In order to make a blog post work for you…
You need to understand your audience.
Knowing your audience and understanding what motivates them is the first step in being able to market and sell a product to them.
So why don’t you have a written buyer persona hanging next to your desk that you look at every time you begin to write?
Hopefully by the end of this article, you will…
Establishing Your Voice
How do we find the voice that talks directly to our target audience?
Glad you asked.
The solution is a simple, yet important step in marketing called identifying your buyer personas.
Here’s a quick rundown:
Buyer personas are fictional people that represent your perfect customer. These are the people who you are aiming to help with your product, service or content.
There is also another word that you might hear when researching buyer personas, and that is the word avatar.
When creating a persona, you can use a little bit of generalization like choosing an age-range to represent your persona group. But for an avatar, you want to be as specific as possible. An avatar is one specific, fictional person from a persona group.
After you build a persona, you will want to define an avatar for even narrower targeting.
There is also something called an audience persona, which would be a fictional representation of a person who may read your blog or follow you on social media, purely for educational purposes or entertainment. Woman number two in our example above is an audience persona. They aren’t going to buy anything from you, but they may help you in other ways.
Now that we’ve gotten the terminology out of the way, you may be asking, “Why do I need to identify these people? I already know who may market is.”
Having good personas in place can you help you in a number of ways:
- You can easily classify your customer’s needs and wants and create content that identifies with them
- You can understand their pain points, how to press them, and how to relieve them with your content
- You can use personas to help you improve your product or service
- Having your personas written down and distributed within your company means that everyone on your team is talking to the same person, which creates consistency and unity
- You can segment your audience more accurately and create specific, targeted content for each of your segments
- You can define your brand voice to fit in with theirs
- You can relocate your advertising spend to places where you know they will be hanging out online
You must have your buyer personas all written down, and you should hang them right next to your desk like this:
Our Top Buyer Persona Right Next to Shana’s Workspace.
Just in case you haven’t done this yet, or you just aren’t convinced, let me quickly give you three more reasons why you need to write down your buyer personas. Then I will show you how to get started.
“Talking to everyone leaves you talking to no one.”
You have probably heard this cliché by now, but it’s quite true. You need to identify one type of person that you connect with and align with, and from there you should go even a step further and create an avatar of that group, and speak to them.
So just because everyone eats doesn’t mean your food service app is for the entire world…(you know who you are). Identify the “lowest hanging fruit” of your category, or better yet, have them identify themselves to you (more on this later).
You’re voice is probably not the right voice.
I’m not saying fake a voice that isn’t yours, I’m saying you need to give yourself the proper role and frame yourself in the right way in order to maximize your connection.
Michael Port talks about this in his book, “Steal the Show.” He describes various roles such as father, husband, boss, employee, sports fan, and friend, and explains how in each role you have a slightly different candor, lingo, feel, and voice.
Think about the role you need to play to help your audience and bring them into your community, and define that voice based on THEM, not you.
Cater to your audience and win.
You think you’re talking to Lucy but you’re really talking to Lucifer.
No, I don’t mean that you are talking to the devil in disguise. What I mean is that you might think your target market is over here, when it’s really over there.
A startup founder recently talked at an event I was at and said his initial target market for an event app was wedding hosts and planners. He went to bridal bazaars and tried connecting with wedding planners to use his app, but it wasn’t gaining the kind of traction he was hoping for. It wasn’t until he started targeting large event companies and mega-conferences that he had any success.
If you define multiple buyer personas you will have a better time tracking what is working for which audience and find your product-market fit faster.
So, we’ve established that personas are important, but how do we build one?
You have two options to start getting to know your buyer personas and I will go over both:
Option 1 – Ask your customers
If you have an audience, or a list of customers, then you should ask them questions about themselves and attempt to learn more by gaining a deeper understanding of who they are, where they come from, and how they live their life. Determine what buckets they fall in and what problems they are having that you might not be solving yet.
Option 2 – Guess (and check later)
This is a bit more common for new businesses or even new products that come out of an existing business. You probably have an idea of who you are targeting, but there is no validation that they are actually the person that will be buying your product, you just think they are (or want them to be).
Let’s start with Option 1…
If you have an audience or customer list that you can survey, then stop guessing right now and just ask.
I can’t tell you how many businesses tell me that their target demographic is an older generation that “isn’t on Facebook.”
Then, when we survey them… Over 50% are using Facebook every single day!
[Tweet “Don’t trust your own assumptions about your customers!!! #BuyerPersona #SplashU”]
This stems from a cognitive bias called the confirmation bias – the tendency to remember information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions.
So please don’t tell me what your customers are doing, show me! Show me the data you collected and the surveys that they filled out, then we can make real decisions.
Until then, you’re just guessing…
So, what’s a good survey to help you find your target buyer personas? Well, obviously we can just ask them the questions we were going to ask ourselves.
What is your largest problem when pertaining to X?
What magazines do you read?
I’m not going to pretend to be a survey guru, but I do happen to know of a survey guru, so I will just point you over to his stellar book:
If you have a customer list of over 1,000, this is a must-read!!! <- 3 explanation points means I’m not f*cking joking here, go read this.
His deep dive survey outlines exactly how to bucket your audience.
And from there you should be able to extract your buyer personas.
If you’re just starting out, you might be saying, “We target millennials, it’s a $12 Billion market.”
This be ignorant.
First off, “millennials” is not a target buyer persona, it’s an entire generation.
“25-30 year old single women with annual incomes over $75,000, who live in San Diego, who like to shop” is a bit closer to a buyer persona, and starting to sound like a “low-hanging fruit” if you’re a clothing store, but we still need to dive in a bit further.
So if we are pretending we’re a clothing store, these might be some of the questions we should ask:
Where do they shop?
What magazines do they subscribe to?
What blogs might they read?
What do they struggle with when shopping?
How do they share their shopping experience? (Probably Instagram…)
Now for Option 2…
Take a second to think about your business.
Who’s your target buyer? Your lowest hanging fruit? Try to be very specific.
And if you really don’t know, that’s OK, but get to researching. Dr. Google has the answer.
After building out 3 or 4 target buyer personas, you should have a really good idea of who you plan to talk to. Now you can shape your voice to align with that segment, and create content that solves their most pressing pain points.
For the shopper example above, that might mean using lines like, “Tell the girls… this sale will be epic,” or the like.
And that is clearly not a line you would use when targeting 55 year old female shoppers, right?
If you say this line to the wrong audience, you alienate them, but if you say it to the right audience, you excite them.
[Tweet “Saying the right thing can either alienate or excite your audience. #BuyerPersonas #SplashU”]
And that’s what “talk to everyone and you talk to know one,” means…
- Find the right buyer persona
- Use the right voice in your copy
After you’ve got your persona written down, it’s time to get even more specific by picking an avatar. The best way to do this is typically to think of a past customer or prospective customer that you have actually interacted with and think about their characteristics.
Exactly how old are they?
Exactly how many kids do they have?
Are they married?
How much money do they make?
Take everything you’ve done with the persona and get even more specific until you have one fictitious person as your avatar (they should fit inside the persona).
This avatar is the person that you can write to and identify with when crafting your next article, blog post, or even video if that’s your thing.
This is what you tape on your wall, next to your desk (and next to your list of goals, because you should have that up next to your desk as well!), and stare at every day to get a feeling for who you’re talking to, who you’re helping, and who will ultimately become your customer.
Now you have no excuse to not finish this up, so do it now!
If you haven’t yet, Download Your Free Buyer Persona Template.
But, of course, this is just the first step in the greater scheme of things. Next up, we need an entire Content Marketing Strategy and it must be written down.
Update: We recently gave a talk on buyer personas that might give you some more clarification into how to fill yours out. Take a look:
Or, you can leave us a note in the comments section below.