As a marketer, you know that marketing is all about telling a story and making a connection with your audience. Someone who feels connected to your brand and trusts you is going to be more likely to continue to buy, interact, and share your products and services. Building a relationship with your audience can be tricky, especially when it’s a new concept to your team. What does your audience like to read? How do they prefer to communicate? What challenges do they face and how can you help solve their problems? Does your brand target more than one audience? Knowing these details and crafting a strategy around them will help you start to build and foster that relationship. Buyer personas are an integral part of that strategy.
Buyer Persona: “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.”
But what actually is a buyer persona?
A definition of a buyer persona is helpful, but what does that actually mean? If you’re a visual person, this might help. Take a look at the pictures below.
Meet Kreative Kyle and Modern Melissa. Kyle and Melissa each purchase from an online retailer that sells home décor products. They both buy from the same brand, but each persona has their own style, purpose, and reason for purchasing from the retailer.
Kyle is a graphic designer in New York City. He is creative, outgoing, and has an affinity for fun and unique artwork. He is a 20-something and lives with roommates in the city. He likes to entertain and be entertained, so he frequently has get-togethers with close friends, roommates, and coworkers. He likes to show off his creative side, and sometimes he finds it hard to find unique and fun home décor items to fill his apartment. He turns to online shopping to find the perfect item for his bookshelf or entry way so that his guests can see his personality through his belongings.
Melissa is a sophomore at a university in Michigan. She just joined a sorority, is involved with many different organizations on campus, and always has her phone at her side. She communicates mostly through social media apps like Instagram and Snapchat and lives for creating ‘Instagrammable moment’ photos that will get a lot of likes. When she shops for gifts for her sorority sisters or her dorm room, she looks for modern, on-trend décor. If it looks good on Instagram, she wants it.
Both of these descriptions just barely scratch the surface of who Melissa and Kyle really are, but they helped you visualize who might be shopping on this retailer’s website, right? What kind of lives do they lead? How do they prefer to communicate? What problem are you solving with your product or service? Melissa would likely be better reached with a social media ad showcasing the perfect dorm décor while Kyle is more likely going to notice and react to a piece of content that plays to his creative and entertainment-focused lifestyle. Now it’s important to note that while you’re referring to each persona as an individual, you’re actually referring to a whole audience. Melissa represents all other people in your target audience who matches this description and demographic makeup. Same with Kyle.
Why are buyer personas important?
A buyer persona helps you visualize who you’re talking to as you create each piece of your marketing mix. Everything from email marketing and social media content to website and video content should be crafted around a buyer persona. Imagine you receive an email from a local bookstore that says, “These Deals Are a Home Run!” but you’ve never watched a baseball game in your life. Maybe you don’t know what a home run is. The message isn’t going to resonate with you and you might not be inclined to click through and read the email. Now, if you were a huge baseball fan and the World Series is in full swing (HA – get it?), then you’d probably be way more interested in see what these ‘home run’ worthy deals are all about. The email might even include some baseball player biographies or books about the sport. That’d be really targeted and valuable to the baseball fan getting the email! Now how can you apply that type of strategy to your buyer personas?
Many brands have multiple buyer personas depending on their target audiences, especially if you’re serving different markets with your various products and services. The way you talk to Melissa is going to be different than the way you talk to Kyle, and that’s how it should be. You want to build that relationship with each of them and when there is a disconnect, your relationships won’t be as strong as they should be.
Buyer personas take a long time and a lot of research and data to craft. You want to make sure you’ve built the right person for your marketing team to focus all of your efforts towards. It’s important stuff! The work is well worth it though because once you know who you’re talking to, you can create an extremely effective marketing strategy – online and off. And that’s where the gold is.