AT A GLANCE
- A buyer persona is a tool that can help you drastically surpass your marketing benchmarks.
- While buyer personas are popular among marketing professionals, most of the documents are missing essential ingredients.
- You can create a best-in-class buyer persona by incorporating personality science into the process.
What if we told you that you could almost double your marketing-generated revenues? Or that you could surpass your campaign’s benchmarks by 75%? Or that you could make your website at least two times more effective and easier to use?
None of those is an over-promise. The above stats were collected from reputable companies like Intel and Thompson Reuters. You might be wondering, “How did they achieve those results?” The answer is simple: by using buyer personas.
WHAT IS A BUYER PERSONA?
A buyer persona is a research-based profile of your ideal customer. It depicts the demographics, psychographics, needs, and irritants of your target audience. A customer persona describes what your customers’ days are like, the challenges they face, and how they make decisions.
You can use personas to guide all your marketing efforts. They would ensure that your product design, marketing, and customer experience activities are tailored to the needs of the buyer you target.
If personas are such a useful and effective tactic, every company will leverage those. Not quite. If that were the case, why would 85% of marketers say their content doesn’t deliver business value?
“85% of marketers say their content doesn’t deliver business value.”
MOST BUYER PERSONAS DON’T WORK.
Today, any marketer worth his or her salt would use customer personas. You probably have one too. That said, most of the buyer personas we see are missing essential ingredients. They lack depth and breadth, not offering many tactical insights.
The language of the document is one of the more common problems we encounter. Most personas are written in a third-person way, which puts a psychological distance between the reader and the buyer. In return, writing in first-person captures the buyer’s perspective better, making the persona more believable.
Another problem is the tendency to use the real customer as a persona. While the logic behind that decision is understandable, the results tend to be somewhat restrictive. Instead, a buyer persona should not be a real person but an amalgamation of research about what a particular segment cares about, who makes them tick, what type of content they may relate to best, and how they may prefer to engage with it.
A third common problem is perfunctory buyer personas. It seems like some marketers carry out the persona development process without too much interest, feeling, or effort. They go through an exercise, fill the boxes, and create a document that looks good on the surface but has no real meat on its bones.
HOW TO DEVELOP A BUYER PERSONA?
Developing a buyer persona requires conducting interviews and research. Depending on the size of your business, you may need to create multiple personas. That said, starting with one and adding more over time is the sound approach.
As per interviews, you may want to talk first to your salespeople, marketers, product development and customer service departments. Those people would know a great deal about your target audience, their demographics, needs, and pain points.
Armed with that information, you can conduct external interviews with customers as well as prospects. It would help if you harped on about their objectives, obstacles, problems and questions. Capturing keywords and -even better- phrases would be ideal. To structure the user interviews, we recommend using the Jobs-to-be-Done methodology.
Finally, you can enrich your customer persona with the help of research. If you have access to primary research, you can use those insights. If you don’t, you could study trend and analyst reports to sharpen your document’s content. Additionally, examining social channels and news might be helpful.
BUYER PERSONAS MEET CUTTING-EDGE PERSONALITY SCIENCE
While interviews and research are a must, what makes Maven Insights’s buyer persona development process unique is the proprietary survey tool that we use.
Academic studies show that marketing messages which reflect the personality traits of their audience are more effective. Our experience suggests that target audiences tend to cluster around a particular personality trait, which informs what types of messages are likely to resonate with them.
“Academic studies show that marketing messages which reflect the personality traits of their audience are more effective.”
To pinpoint the right personality traits of a target audience, we use an internationally-validated and robust personality theory: the Five-Factor Model (also known as the Big Five or OCEAN.)
Most scholars think that our personality traits are reasonably well baked-in by the time we are in our mid-20s. Moreover, personality is about 50 percent heritable. And the Five-Factor Model is the most precise -and predictive- personality trait science to date.
As its name suggests, the model is built on five traits, each having six facets (or sub-traits.) Together they create a kind of fingerprint for one’s personality. Each trait is a spectrum on which an individual could be below, middle, or high. Neither end of the spectrum is positive or negative – desirable or undesirable.
Thanks to a self-report online questionnaire, we identify our buyer persona’s Big Five score. That, in return, provides us with a precise tactical direction.
For instance, we can predict -with a high degree of certainty- the buyer’s political tendencies, attitudes towards money management, preferred type of advertising, exercising motivation, music preference, parenting style, hedonic or utilitarian shopping preferences, and more.
“We can predict -with a high degree of certainty-the buyer’s political tendencies, attitudes towards money management, preferred type of advertising, music preference, and more.”
THE NEXT FRONTIER OF BUYER PERSONAS
Buyer personas are research-based profiles that allow you to understand your target customers on a deeper level. The mere process of developing a buyer persona is highly beneficial. It creates organization-wide self-awareness. The company starts paying attention to the way it presents itself. Marketers begin to notice that instead of talking about the customer’s problem, they spoke about the company’s solution.
However, if you want to improve your reach, boost conversions, and increase loyalty, you need a scientifically-sound buyer persona. With its help, you can describe the types of people you serve with great precision and explain to them how your solution solves their problem in the most compelling way.
November 4, 2020