How to Know your Buyer

22 February, 2013

Buyer PersonaIf your target audience is still a bit of a mystery to you and your organisation, read on. One of the biggest challenges business owners face is limiting their market. They are quick to quote their buyer as ‘anyone who eats’ or ‘anyone living in their geographical area’ or ‘anyone needing wall-painting/recruitment/graphic-design services’. This is not a target market. This is a bunch of people who are as difficult and expensive to find as the very rare egg of Dr Seuss’ three-eyelashed Tizzy.

Often this broad-based, generalist approach arises from the desire to attract as wide an audience as possible in order to get more customers. Business owners are fearful of missing an opportunity, yet in this very action of trying to be all things to all people, they dilute what makes them special. Consumers want to deal with businesses that understand their specific problems and can provide tailor-made solutions. So focus on the market you serve best – and ignore the rest.

To do this you need to find more of your best clients – possibly easier said than done – but a great tool to help you do this is the Buyer Persona. “Buyer Persona” is a marketing term for the description of your ideal prospect – the person for whom your product or service is intended. It is the profile of your ideal buyer that goes beyond statistics and demographics and defines the softer characteristics like behaviour, motivation, likes and dislikes. It is a composite picture of the real people who buy, or who might like to buy the kind of products or services that you sell. It helps you create new products, services and content aimed at someone, not everyone.

Importance of Buyer Personas

Savvy marketers will admit that far too much guesswork goes into determining who their buyer actually is. We presume an awful lot. The Buyer Persona is a tool that can help you see a lot deeper into your buyer’s thinking. Most often, once you get down there, you will uncover unexpected answers and may even discover that the person you thought was buying your product has no interest in considering you at all. At least now you can stop annoying them.

Buyer Personas are valuable because:

  1. They take the focus off you, your product and your business and put your ideal customer in the driver’s seat. Surprisingly, your products are not the center of anyone’s universe except your own.
  2. They help you understand your customer’s dreams, hopes, fears and desires.
  3. They allow you to focus your marketing efforts where they will be most effective, letting you lower your cost of sales by not chasing dead-end leads, and closing the sale with customers you want to keep.

Essentially, Buyer Personas provide critical insights that guide strategic business decisions, through a process that is straightforward and repeatable.

Where to start

This really doesn’t need to be a complicated process. The trick is to talk to your best clients and recent buyers and not make stuff up. Making stuff up won’t get you anywhere. Solid research will.

Ask them:

  1. What are their problems and priorities i.e. what triggers them to search for a solution?
  2. What factors do they use to select a solution?
  3. What are their perceptions about your products and services?
  4. Who is involved in each step of their decision-making process?
  5. What factors prevent them from choosing your solution?
  6. What does success look like to them?
  7. What’s at risk for this person in the buying process?
  8. What could go wrong for them if the purchase is a failure?
  9. What has prevented them from considering your products in the past?
  10. How do they typically seek new information and keep up to date with the industry? What events do they attend? What do they read? Online and off?

Next steps

You’ve gathered the data, conducted the interviews and answered all the questions… you’ve finally figured out who your Buyer Persona is. Fabulous. Now you can paint a fairly clear picture of the human being with real life issues that you are trying to reach, which you can reference when creating new products, new content or an effective marketing campaign.

Here’s an easily understood format for your Buyer Persona that’s palatable and organised:

  • State the background of the persona: basic details of their role within their business, key information about their company, relevant personal info like their education and hobbies.
  • List their demographics like gender, age, marital status, income level, location and education.
  • Describe their psychographics: personality, values, attitudes, interests and lifestyles.
  • Illustrate the relationships they have with their colleagues, superiors, subordinates and competitors.
  • Describe their identifiers, their buzzwords, mannerisms and gestures.
  • State their goals and challenges and how your business can help to achieve or overcome them.
  • Include a few real quotes taken during your interviews that represent your persona well.
  • Identify the most common objections your persona will raise during the sales process and your response to them.
  • Relate the marketing message that describes your simple solution to their biggest problem.

Now you have a profile of the person who is most likely to see the value in the service that you provide – from his demeanor, to his favourite websites, to what keeps him up at night.

If you are still spraying and praying in your marketing, please think again. It makes sense to build your business on the type of clients you’ve already had success with. Spend the time figuring out who they are and then put your energy into getting more of them.

Common sense will make you more money. And you’ll have more fun.

As printed in Your Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2013.


Robyn Young - Personal Leadership Branding for Executives

About the Author

Robyn Young

As a personal leadership branding strategist, Robyn Young helps individuals identify and articulate their unique strengths, values and goals, empowering them to build an authentic personal brand that resonates with their stakeholders.

Robyn has a keen eye for aligning personal attributes with professional aspirations, helping her clients project a powerful and compelling image in their chosen field.