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A buyer persona or a customer profile is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on data and market research. With the ideal buyer persona, you can quickly determine whether a prospect meets your needs that will help you achieve your business goals. A customer profile also allows you to better tailor your product development, marketing, SEO strategies and service to your desired customers. Moreover, it is much more pleasant to work with the customers who really connect with your company and the way you operate. To have the ideal customer that you would like to go the extra mile for.
How to create the ideal Buyer Persona
How does a buyer persona help you get the ideal customers?
The ideal buyer persona stimulates an increase in the quality of your products, services and customer support. After all, you would like to have the ideal customer as a loyal customer. So you provide a more personal customer approach that focuses on the customer and meets their needs as much as possible.
With such an approach you save time and money because you can attract more returning customers and have less acquisition to carry out. In addition, your returning customers will speak positively about your products and services, resulting in free word-of-mouth advertising.
Why are buyer personas so important for your business?
Buyer personas help you better understand your customers (and potential customers). You may have been targeting healthcare providers with your business for years. But do you know what their specific needs and interests are? What about your business is attractive to healthcare providers in order for them to be your customer? Does your product, service, and offerings fully meet your customer’s needs, or would your ideal customer rather go to a new competitor who is just a little more customer-focused?
To get a full understanding of what drives your best customers, it is critical to develop detailed customer profiles for your business. The most powerful customer profiles are based on market research and insights you can gain from your customer service department and from your existing customer database (how long have they been customers, what services do they purchase, how does the communication go, what problems does the customer have which you might be able to solve, what are their goals, etc.).
What drives your ideal customer to buy your product or service?
Do you know what your ideal customer looks like? When is a customer ideal for your business? With market research and interviews you can get answers to such questions. With that information you can create different buyer personas, each with their own profile and purpose. This allows you to form a clear picture of your potential customer that is part of your target group(s).
How buyer personas can be used in marketing
With a good buyer persona you can use your SEO and marketing strategies more effectively.
All your content on your website, your messages in emails and on social media, blogs, videos and other marketing materials, can be aimed specifically at these buyer personas. It is important to be able to address your target group in a highly tailored approach, so avoid creating too many profiles of your ideal customer in the early stages.
Align marketing activities with the market segments of specific customers
If you have well-defined customer profiles, then you can properly tailor your activities to meet your customer’s needs. Instead of sending the same message to all of your customers, you could do this for each segment. This allows you to engage with the customer on a more personal level and tune in to the customer’s life and buying phase.
For example, if you have a returning customer who is just getting divorced, you won’t send a generic message offering a romantic vacation for couples. If you have a customer who is about to close a deal with you, you’re not going to send this person messages intended for acquiring new customers. Creating buyer personas based on market segment will prevent you from making mistakes with your customers.
How do you get the information to create a buyer persona?
Because every business is unique, there are no identical buyer personas. The key is to create profiles that are tailored to your target audience that are interested in your product and services. When profiling buyer personas, you gather information about demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, goals, hobbies, needs and problems they are seeking a solution for.
If you have read my article about getting to your ideal customer with market segmentation, then you already have a basic format for collecting the information you need. For each market segment, determine what information might be of interest to you.
With Google Analytics you can retrieve a great deal of information about whether your customers visit your site, the pages they read, the browsers they use, from where they are logged in and whether they use a laptop or mobile device.
On social media platforms they may have posted a comment or a review about your product.
If you are giving away an e-book or scheduling a webinar that your customers can sign up for, you may include on the sign-up form questions like:
- Company name
- Job title of the person filling out the form
- How many employees the company has
- Whether they are also interested in receiving information about (name a list of different topics or product groups).
A cancellation can provide you with valuable information you can use to improve your products. If a customer cancels their subscription to your newsletter, for example, ask them the reason by providing a number of possible options that only require the customer to check a box. Also give the option to describe the reason for cancellation.
In direct contact with your customer, you can ask questions to get to know him or her and see if you can do more to further improve the customer’s experience with your products or services. You can also conduct a poll and online surveys. Of course, you can also maintain close contact with your customer service and sales team, because they are usually answering questions from your customers. In any case, make sure you know what’s on your customers’ minds.
Interview your current customers, even the ones who are not so satisfied with your products
You can learn a lot from your current customers. Have a conversation with them and ask them what they really think of your product or service. Some of these customers can serve perfectly as examples for your ideal buyer persona, which will eventually allow you to improve your business offerings.
The less satisfied customers can offer you a wealth of information. Your service may not be a good fit because the customer have larger teams and had expected more collaboration features from your product. Or maybe they think your product is too difficult to put into use. Such conversations help you to learn something about your product and what challenges your customers face. You could modify your product based on this information or provide an additional service in which you teach users how to work efficiently with your product.
Customers often like to be heard – interviewing them gives them a chance to tell you about their experiences, their challenges, what they need and what they think of your product.
Customers also like to have an impact when it comes to the products they use. If they can help you answer questions and you can be helpful to your customers, it will increase the customer’s loyalty to your business.
Ask your prospective customers some questions
People who are familiar with your brand or your services but haven’t bought anything from you yet, can tell you what they’re up against, what they’re unsure about and what exactly they’ re looking for.
Use your network
Especially if you just started your business or launch a new product for which you haven’t had leads or customers yet, your network might be able to help you. Colleagues, contacts on social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Quora), acquaintances, and your friends might be able to refer you to people interested in your company or product. You can invite these people for an informal talk, in order to learn what they think and if they see any opportunities for improvement.
Tips for recruiting people for your interviews
If you are looking for ways to contact people to pose your questions to, here are a few tips on getting cooperation.
1. Use incentives
Many people don’t think a reward is necessary if they want to talk to you, but some people like to receive something for their cooperation. You might think of a gift card for this purpose.
2.Be clear that the interview is not a sales pitch
Make it clear that you are doing research and that you want to learn from this conversation.
3. Make it easy to say yes
Make all the arrangements for your interview candidates: suggest times, but be flexible and send an invitation by email with a reminder to block the time in their calendar.
4. Decide how many people you want to interview
How many people you need to interview to create your buyer personas depends on the amount of information you already have. Maybe 4 interviews is all you need. More interviews may be needed if you want to explore each segment (customers, former customers, prospects, people unfamiliar with your company).
A good rule of thumb is when you can predict fairly accurately what the interviewee will be saying, it’s time to stop. At that point, you have enough information to fill out your customer profiles.
What questions provide information to create the ideal buyer persona?
Below are examples of questions broken down into eight categories. Tailor your questions to the interviewee and make an assessment of whether you can ask certain questions. Include questions that are important for your business, your products and your services and get a clear picture of your ideal customer.
1. Questions that may be of interest to a buyer persona
- What country/region does this person live in and what is the climate like over there?
- What social media platforms does he/she use?
- What keeps your persona up at night?
2. Questions related to the interviewee’s job function
- What is your job title?
- How is your work valued?
- What does your typical day look like?
- What skills are needed to do your job?
- What knowledge and tools are you using in your job?
- Who do you report to? Who reports to you?
3. Company Questions
- In what industry is your company active?
- How big is your company (sales, employees)?
- How powerful is your competition?
4. Goal Questions
- What responsibilities do you have?
- What does it mean for you to be successful in your job?
- When will you be successful?
- What is your personal goal/what are your ambitions?
- What makes you happy?
5. Challenge questions
- What are your biggest challenges/ what keeps you awake at night?
- What have you done to tackle these challenges?
- What do you need to make things easier?
- What does the ideal solution look like?
6. Questions on gathering knowledge
- How do you get information about the developments in your field?
- What kind of publications or blogs do you read?
- Which social networks do you participate in?
- What questions do you have and with what kind of information would we be able to help you?
7. Personal background questions
- What are your personal demographics (age, married/single, number of children, and age range of children).
- What education did you get and graduate from?
- How did you get to where you are today?
- Are you doing what you love most?
- What values are important to you?
8. Questions on buying processes
- How do you prefer to communicate with suppliers (e.g., email, phone, video chat, in person)?
- Are you using the Internet to research suppliers or products? If so, how do you find that information?
- Have you made a major purchase in the past 6 months? If yes, what was the evaluation process and how did you decide to purchase that product or service? If no, what were the considerations and what made you decide not to purchase it?
Keep asking questions when you can
To each response to the questions above, you can ask “why?” This challenges people to reflect on their behavior so they can tell you what drives them.
A question like “How do you get information on developments in your field?” is not so much about the source of the information the interviewee uses, it is about the extent to which they keep up with developments in the field. This reveals interest and ambitions.
What about “negative” buyer personas?
With a customer profile, you focus on the ideal customer, but you can also create a buyer persona that represents individuals you don’t want as customers.
For example, these can be people or companies who are very unlikely to buy your product or service. You can think of professionals who have expertise that is more advanced than what your product requires. Or people that are just too expensive to have as a customer (for example because they have a very low budget or because you know that they use a discounted first offer and then they stay away).
Creating negative customer profiles will give you an additional advantage that allows you to differentiate your ideal customers from the ones who don’t really resonate with your business. You will also have higher sales productivity, as the cost per lead and per customer will decrease.
Create your buyer personas and make sure all your employees are familiar with them
Create your buyer personas to fully understand your target audience. Make sure everyone in your company is aware of the existence of these customer profiles. Your colleagues and employees will then know how best to approach and support each of these customers. This way of working will give you better customer relations, more sales and more long-term customers.
Read also about Buyer Personas that are discriminating and what you can do to avoid that.