What is a Buyer Persona?

The days when companies could rely exclusively on raw sales data, statistics, charts, and graphs to identify their target customers are gone. Today, savvy business owners take a more holistic approach to targeting and interacting with customers. Instead of adopting a numbers-driven approach, these companies strive to obtain a clearer picture of their clientele, and the buyer persona is a key ingredient in that strategy.

You can think of it like this: buyer personas aim to personalize and bring to life all the sales data, statistics, charts, and graphs mentioned above. The idea is that you can learn more about your target customer if you paint a more complete picture of him or her. To create a buyer persona, companies generally consider their customers’ traits and personalities, including:

  • gender
  • age
  • education level
  • socio-economic status
  • profession
  • marital status
  • shopping habits
  • lifestyle
  • a buyer’s anticipated use of a product
  • a buyer’s experience with similar products

The exact checklist for creating a buyer persona will likely vary from company to company, and many businesses will ultimately have various different buyer personas to address the diversity among their client base.

Buyer personas are extremely helpful in growing a business in 3 key areas:

1. Product Development

A good buyer persona will tell you a great deal about the interests and desires of your customer base. That information is critical in determining whether the products you currently offer satisfy your clientele. It is equally important in helping to plan how your brand should evolve. Buyer personas will help a business anticipate how changes in our culture or economy create shifts in consumer needs. That way, you can remain on the cutting edge and will be prepared to launch new products even before the masses realize they need or want them.

2. Marketing and Advertising Strategies

Buyer personas can help companies from a marketing standpoint in two major ways:

  • Determining the Proper Medium of Advertising. As a very basic example, if your buyer persona subscribes to popular fashion magazines but rarely watches television, you’ll clearly want to focus on print advertising. But buyer personas can provide even more detailed information, which will provide you with the means to target your niche much more narrowly. For example, while knowing the basic television channels your buyer persona watches is helpful information, knowing exactly which shows he watches and what time of day he typically tunes in will enable you to sharpen your marketing focus. That strategy maximizes efficiency, saves money, and will ultimately lay the foundation for a more successful advertising campaign.

In addition, the need for creating an online presence for your company’s brand has never been more important than it is today. Buyer personas can direct how you focus your social media outreach. Does your buyer persona tweet? Is he exclusively a Facebook user? Is he using Pinterest? All this information can shape how you use social media outlets to reach out to the public.

  • Determining the Proper Content for Advertising Material. A good buyer persona will reveal important information about your customers’ personality and what motivates them. Some companies may find that silly humor will likely attract attention. Others may determine that detailed product information and current customer testimonials are compelling to their target base. On the other hand, celebrity endorsements can lure some consumers.

3. Financial Projections

Understanding your buyer persona’s spending habits will help your company grow responsibly. For example, if your customers shop seasonally, it’s best to track those habits and strategically launch new products in peak times during the year. So, rather than blindly producing vast quantities of a new product in the middle of the year, a business that has this kind of buyer persona may choose to wait until the holidays. Similarly, if economic fluctuations tend to impact your buyer persona’s purchasing habits, you should proceed conservatively during difficult economic times.

The most important thing to keep in mind about buyer personas is that, like the real customers behind them, they constantly change and evolve. Therefore, while relying on buyer personas can provide a boost to your business, keeping track of consumer activity, interests, and needs will help you keep your buyer personas current.