What if I told you there was a magical tool that makes your business more successful. It makes your product development or buying decisions, as well as your marketing and promotion 100% easier. Best of all, it’s completely free and simple to use.
This is not a pipe dream, and no, it’s not the future. It’s called a Buyer Persona, and it will completely change the way your business operates.
What is a Buyer Persona?
A Buyer Persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. -HubSpot
When done right, a Buyer Persona is used as a reference for virtually ALL promotional and customer service activities. It’s also perfect for forward planning products or services your business offers. The more detailed your Buyer Persona is, the simpler your business operations become.
Why do I need a Buyer Persona?
Let me tell you a story.
Nine years ago I was in the process of starting my very first business (as a mobile wedding makeup artist). I didn’t bother developing a Buyer Persona. I figured I should appeal to as many people as humanly possible. It seemed to make sense to price myself at a similar rate to other artists in my area. Oh, and I was a makeup snob, so I would use designer cosmetics in my kit. I thought I’d be rolling in customers within weeks. After all, I was basically the same as all the other options out there, so why WOULDN’T someone book me?
The only clients I was able to attract with this strategy were on a very tight budget, and in order to secure their bookings, I had to offer deep discounts. They would then recommend me to their friends, who would contact me, expecting the same deal. I couldn’t figure out why I was only attracting budget, “low rent” clients when I wanted to be working with premium clients.
The answer is simple. By trying to please everyone, I had unintentionally set myself up to work with clients I couldn’t afford to work with (because they couldn’t afford to pay much). To make matters worse, I was working with brides whose sense of style I didn’t share, on weddings that I didn’t love enough to put in my portfolio. It was a disaster.
A year or so later, I was well and truly sick of working with the wrong customers and not making money. The first thing I did was figure out exactly who I DID want to work with. Yep, I designed my Buyer Persona, in the form of MY ideal customer. Once I developed my Buyer Persona I reworked my entire business to serve this customer. Suddenly, I was perfectly OK about not just increasing, but DOUBLING my rates. After all, my ideal customer valued their wedding makeup artist as a premium service, and was willing to pay for the best.
This made me far and away the MOST EXPENSIVE makeup artist in my area, but I was OK with that too. There were no other artists in my area who shared my specific expertise.
I ruffled a few feathers on the way, both of prospective customers and other artists. I also had more than a few moments of wondering if I had made the right decision. Money was TIGHT and I wanted to compromise on many occasions.
It wasn’t all bad though! Before long I was regularly booking premium clients with insanely gorgeous, pinterest-worthy weddings. I was being paid what I was worth to travel to beautiful locations, to be a part of the type of weddings that I loved. Best of all, I was booked out months in advance. This gave me the holy grail of the freelance worker – a predictable income.
Having a very detailed and specific Buyer Persona saved that business, and has been a major part of the success of every other business I have been involved in.
What can you do with a Buyer Persona?
A detailed and accurate Buyer Persona offers clarity in your business operations. When you know who you are servicing, almost all the client-facing aspects of running a business fall into place. It helps you to brand your business. It helps you to market it to the right people. A good Buyer Persona can tell you how to reach your customers, what they want or need, and how to actually reach them. It is a key tool for both marketing and product development.
When you know what your customers want, you can give it to them.
When you REALLY know your customer through a Buyer Persona, you learn the needs, wants, desires and pain-points of your customers. It’s only logical to use this information to meet their needs and solve their problems. When you can solve their specific problems, how could they NOT become a paying customer?
When you know where your customers hang out online, it’s MUCH easier to find them.
Social Media is an incredible tool. But let;s be honest, if you try to be active across all Social Networks, you’re probably not doing any of them well. Your Buyer Persona tells you exactly where your customer spends their online time, so you know which network to focus your time, energy, and potentially, ad spend.
When you know your customers taste, you can design your visual brand identity to appeal to them.
Visual branding is “the face” of your business, and in most cases, is the first impression a potential customer will get of your business. It’s important that it communicates the right message. When you understand your Buyer Persona, you learn exactly what style and imagery they respond to. This can (and should!) help you to shape your visual brand.
How do you create a Buyer Persona?
Creating a Buyer Persona when you have no data:
It’s all well and good to talk about Buyer Personas, but if your business has not yet launched, or is very new, chances are you have no data or past customers to work from.
That’s perfectly OK.
You have to start somewhere. Think about your business. What inspired you to do what you do? Who do you serve and what problem do you solve?
Think about the people you know. Who do you know, that would be interested in and genuinely benefit from your product or service? When you have figured out the MOST LIKELY PERSON to have both an interest and a need for your product or service, you can use them as your very first iteration of a Buyer Persona.
Creating a Buyer Persona when you have an existing website, social media accounts, or customers:
The more data you have access to, the more accurate your Buyer Persona can be. If you have access to analytics on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, or your website, this information can help you to paint the most accurate possible picture of your ideal customer.
On social media, analytics or insights are generally only available on business accounts.
If you have installed Google analytics on your website, you have access to an absolute GOLDMINE of data.
Look at the majority of your site visitors and social media followers. You can easily figure out the gender, age range and location of your current visitors. In Google Analytics, if you have the demographics feature activated, you can drill down to find out what topics your site visitors are interested in, what technology they use and more. You can check where the majority of your website visitors are being referred from (under “Acquisition”) and find out which websites or social networks are referring them to your site.
This is all valuable information in understanding your Buyer Persona.
Finally, if you have an existing database of customers or clients, you can send a simple survey. Survey building tools like surveymonkey, typeform and google forms are easy and free to use. Make a questionnaire and email it to your database. Explain that you are trying to learn more about the people who are interested in your products or services, and the true brand advocates (the people you really want to hear from!) will generally be happy to help.
Grab my handy-dandy Buyer Persona planner and start targeting your business activities now! There’s a printable version for the pen and paper fans, and a digital version if that’s more your jam.
If you’re not already a member, head on over to my awesome FB Group and share your Buyer Persona with me. The more specific you can get, the better for your business. Catch you on Facebook!