We may be halfway through 2018, but it’s not too late to make this a special year for your business. You’ve probably considered all of the important changes that small business owners should be aware of at the present moment. You’ve boosted your marketing efforts and even promised yourself that you’ll blog more. You have it all figured out. You’re just waiting for that avalanche of purchases to hit you.
Unfortunately it’s not always that easy. If that avalanche hasn’t happened yet, it may be because you’re forgetting about an extremely important element that drives sales: the buyer persona. You can’t simply set your target audience and have a clear focus. You have to understand that your target audience is quite versatile in its essence. The buyer persona will encompass all characteristics of your ideal customer, and it will give you a much clearer focus.
What’s a Buyer Persona, Exactly?
Let’s start with the basics, shall we? A buyer persona is not something fictional. It’s a pretty practical concept in its essence (although it may sound complicated).
A buyer persona is a realistic representation of your ideal customer. It’s based on in-depth market research and data about your existing customers.
A well-formulated buyer persona will result from a thorough examination of your customers’ demographics, purchasing decisions, behavior patterns and goals. It’s an extremely detailed process. I’ll be honest right from the start: it does take lots of time and effort. You’ll have tons of data to analyze, so be ready to sweat it up.
Or, you can hire a marketing expert to define the buyer persona for you. It’s a good investment — although a pricey one. And when we’re talking about a small business, you may not have a lot of excess funds to spend on experts. Plus, you’re the one who understands your business in the best way possible, so the least you should do is try to develop your buyer persona on your own. It won’t be that hard. Promise! We’ll make it as easy as possible through the tips that follow.
How to Write the Buyer Persona
- Step One: Collect Your Data
The data you get through your website and social media profiles presents the digital body language of your buyer persona. Each email they open, each link they click to land at your website, each survey they complete, each Google search that involves your brand, each share on social media… all these behavioral patterns are part of your customers’ digital body language. You have to analyze it!
Google Analytics gives you more than enough info related to the activity at your website. As for social media, you have to get that data, too. It shows how your posts perform and when you attract the activity of your audience, so you’re getting insights into the behavior of your buyer persona. You can get such analytics from each platform you use, but you can also rely on independent social media analytics tools to make things simpler.
This is why all this data existed in the first place – to enable you to analyze and track the behavior of your target audience. If you want a more specific answer, I’d say it’s all about developing your buyer persona. That’s how you put data in direct use throughout your marketing strategy.
- Who Is Your Buyer Persona?
Once you have the data, it’s time to start creating the buyer persona. This is the first question you need to ask: “Who is he/she?” Let’s take an example: a small beauty shop that sells organic cosmetics and high-end perfumes that are not available in drugstores. How will we create the buyer persona?
We have to provide very specific answers, based on the research of the existing customers. Who is the ideal customer?
It’s a woman in her 30s, who earns a lot and spends at least $400 per month on face and body care. She is not afraid to take risks and try different brands. She is looking for a professional to assess her needs and offer the best products. She likes face-to-face consultations and prefers to buy in-store. Once she finds the perfect products, however, she’s happy to order them online.
Do you get the point? You take the general characteristics of your target audience and you narrow them down to a very specific personality. This will help you target the potential customer on a more personal level.
- How Does Your Buyer Persona Find Your Business?
Was your buyer persona referred by a loyal user of your business? Did they find you on social media? Did they find your website through organic search?
You need a specific answer to this question. In our case with the beauty shop, the buyer persona was referred to the business by another woman, who is interested in perfumes and organic cosmetics.
These details are important, so you’ll identify the most important marketing channels.
- What Does Your Buyer Persona Want?
Value for money is an inevitable answer to this question. Try to make it even more specific. Your buyer persona probably wants professional advice regarding the products or services they purchase. This means you’ll have to invest in content marketing. If you’re not really good at writing, you should definitely consider outsourcing that task to a skilled freelancer or at least hire a professional editor to improve the quality of your content. The buyer persona won’t have a good impression of the business if they see flaws in the content.
Dig into specifics. What exactly does your buyer persona want?
- Why Does the Buyer Persona Buy from You?
Maybe it’s because you offer the lowest price for a high-quality product. Maybe it’s because your brand means prestige. Maybe it’s because your shop is the only one of its kind in your area. Define the major points that attract your buyer persona.
- More Details!
Don’t stop now, your buyer persona is not yet complete. There are a few other important details to define, including:
It’s a lot of work, but you can get all this info if you simply analyze the data you have. If you don’t have enough data for some of these questions, then send out surveys to the subscribers of your email campaign or ask your social media followers for answers.
- Write It!
- Age and gender
- Household income
- Career goals
- The type of environment they live in (urban, rural, or somewhere in between?)
- The lifestyle they aim for
- Favorite shopping destinations
- Online behavior
- Factors that prevent them from buying your type of products or services
At this point, you’ll have all the answers you need to craft your buyer persona. You need some structure, so you’ll easily understand this person. The best way to “write” a buyer persona is to follow a template. That will prevent you from forgetting important aspects.
HubSpot offers some great persona templates you can try out.
How to Use Your Buyer Persona to Drive Sales
Now that you have your buyer persona, what do you do with it?
Your entire marketing campaign will change. Thanks to these efforts, you’ll be able to make it much more focused and relevant. Don’t worry, you’ll still attract an audience with diverse backgrounds. However, you’ll be able to identify every single member of your target audience with certain aspects of the buyer persona, so they will feel like you’re directly addressing them.
Here’s a hint: if your target audience is very versatile in terms of age, occupation and interests, you may create multiple buying personas. In fact, that’s a recommendation. Don’t worry; once you learn how to create one buyer persona, the others will be a breeze.
Essentially, the buyer persona will simplify many of your business processes, so there’s no excuse to not make these efforts.
So, what do you do now?
- Create Personalized Experiences: Thanks to the well-defined buyer persona, you can create a very personalized experience for your customers. You’ll tailor a message that directly addresses their needs and problems. For example, the beauty shop we mentioned above will focus its content marketing campaign on luxury, since that’s what its buying persona is after.
- Create Ads for Different Personas: You know that Facebook allows you to create targeted ads, right? Well, the buyer persona allows you to deliver highly relevant ads to the right audience! If you create multiple buyer personas, you can customize the content of your ads so they will be more attractive for the people they reach.
- Write Awesome Blog Content: Your blog will become much more targeted and relevant when you plan the posts in accordance with your buyer persona. How much time does this person spend reading blogs? Do they like short or long-form content? What tips do they need? What would they like to read?
With this strategy, you’ll attract loyal readers and subscribers with your blog. Certainly, you’ll also be able to turn them into loyal customers.
Most important of all, your buyer persona will help you mold your sales process in accordance with buyers’ decision-making habits. You’ll understand what information your customer wants before making the purchase, as well as what triggers quick buying decisions. In short, you’ll improve your sales processes, and that’s what matters most — and makes all the difference — for a small business owner.