What the Heck is a Buyer Persona?
You’ve heard about buyer personas and how they can help you sell things online. But what the heck are they? Boy, are you in luck. I happen to know all about buyer personas, and I am going to share what I know with you right now.
What follows are the ins and outs of this marketing phenomenon that you can put in place right now to ramp up conversions and get the job done.
That job I’m referring to is earning more cold-hard cizash.
Let’s get started.
What Are Buyer Personas?
Back when I was in school, I was a huge D&D nerd.
I also played other role-playing games, like GURPS (Generic Universal Role Playing System).
Before you could play a game like D&D or GURPS, you had to design your character.
So you pulled out your handy dandy blank character sheet, and you got to work. It looked a little something like this:
To fill out your character sheet, you had to come up with the person’s:
- And even their quirks and habits.
If your character was a British Bard named Bobby, who bumbled his words and bickered with himself and barked like a dog, that all got written down. You could even draw a picture of your character if you were extra nerdy.
By the time you were finished, you had a fully fleshed out persona who could engage in whatever adventure the game master had planned for you.
That act of character creation is not unlike creating buyer personas.
Instead of a character in a game, your buyer persona is the one person you are selling to.
It’s your ideal customer.
While you might not have a name for this person (you can make up a name if you want), you are encouraged to come up with the person’s characteristics, their strengths and weaknesses, their quirks and habits.
Knowing this information can help you design your marketing materials, write your sales copy, and it can ramp up your conversions exponentially.
Who Is Your Ideal Customer?
When making up a character in a game, you are doing just that. You’re making shit up. But that’s not how you want to treat buyer personas.
Buyer personas are based on FACT, not fiction.
Therefore, to fill out your buyer persona worksheet (you’ll be provided with those at the end of this post), you are encouraged to study your current customers.
If you don’t have any current customers, you’ll have to make do with studying your competitor’s customers. That is until you can gather some of your own.
In my previous post, How to Write Sales Copy Like a Pro, I told you about three methods for writing engaging headlines.
Do you remember what they were? It’s ok; this is totally not a quiz. You can cheat if you want to. Or, you know what, I’ll just tell you again.
The three methods for getting into the heads of your target audience, which will help you write engaging headlines AND create your buyer persona are:
- Spy on your competitors
- Survey your current customers
- Use Amazon reviews
Again, if you are just starting out, there may be some guesswork involved. That’s where Amazon reviews and competitor analysis will come in handy.
If you have customers, however, well, hell, your buyer persona is only a quick survey away.
What type of information are you looking for? Just wait a second, will you? I’m about to tell you.
Jeez, you’re so impatient.
What Information Should You Gather?
Unlike role-playing game characters, where you can come up with cool stuff like the ability to pick locks or pick up women, your buyer persona character sketch will include information like:
- Financial Status: How much money does your ideal customer make? Is she rolling in dough or is she piled under mountains of debt?
- Occupation: What does your ideal customer do for a living? Or maybe the person is currently unemployed and collects a government check every month.
- Relationship Status: Is the person married, divorced or separated? Or maybe he’s in an open marriage. Or, quite possibly, he’s happily single and content with playing the field.
- Language: This doesn’t have to mean her primary language, like English, Spanish or Portuguese. It can also signify the types of things she’s likely to say when considering your product or service. It can also include the thoughts that run through her head, especially when she’s facing the problem your product or service is intended to solve.
Other information to gather includes her common interests, how she spends her free time, her shopping habits, her level of education and her location in the world.
Most importantly, you’ll want to pinpoint the problems your ideal customer faces that lead him to want your product or service in the first place, as well as a few of his buying concerns.
All of this information can help you make a deeper connection with your buyer. The person you are targeting will then see yours as a company that ‘gets them’. And that’s just why buyer personas are so important.
How to Use Buyer Personas
Ok, you’ve done your homework, you’ve designed your buyer persona, and now you’re ready to use it. How exactly are you supposed to use the information you’ve gathered? That’s what we’ll discuss next.
When you are sitting down to write your ad copy, sales copy, or whatever it is you are attempting to write, you’re often stuck with a blank page and these racing thoughts…
What the hell am I supposed to write?
Well, when you have a fully fleshed out buyer persona, the writing comes easy. For instance, you can:
- Speak Directly To Your Buyer: When you know the person’s gender, age, occupation and even the thoughts that are running through his head, speaking to him comes easy. “Stop lying awake at night, wondering if she is going to call. Do THIS and make that phone ring.” That is the message you might send to a man in his thirties who just lost his wife, and he desperately wants her back.
- Keep Your Ad Costs Down: PPC and social media advertising can be downright expensive. Instead of buckshot advertising that targets everyone and everything, go with sniper advertising that targets that special someone (your buyer persona). Facebook, for example, offers advanced targeted capabilities that allow you to input age ranges, languages spoken, locations, education levels and much more. You can just go down the list of your buyer persona, inserting relevant information, and your ads will only show up for that one type of person. This keeps your ad spend low to the ground and your ROI up in the rafters.
- Eliminate Objections: Filling out your buyer persona allows you to pinpoint and then obliterate common objections to your sales materials. When you know that your buyer often thinks that your products are too expensive, you can compare the expenditure to other things he wastefully spends money on. For example, “Think $49.99 is too expensive? Yet you spend that every weekend at the bar. Which would you rather have? A diseased liver or the power to get your wife back right now?” Who could say no to that?
To put it simply, buyer personas save you time and money while hitting your target customer right in the kisser.
It’s Time to Create Your Buyer Persona
Now that you know the who, what, and why of buyer personas, it’s time to put your knowledge to work.
The following tools are designed to make the creation of buyer personas as easy as creating a character in a role-playing game. Have fun with it and, remember, your buyer persona information may change over time. Keep doing your research – even when the going seems good – and keep up with the times if you want to keep your competitors on their toes.
- Free Templates! HubSpot offers a free Buyer Persona Template. This is just like the character sheet I mentioned above.
- Holy Crap! A Dedicated Buyer Persona Platform! HubSpot, which seems to be cornering the buyer persona market, also created the platform MakeMyPersona.
- And Another Dedicated Platform! Then there is the platform PersonaApp, which allows you to create the look and feel of your persona, which can make the person stand out in your mind.
Now you have all you need to know about buyer personas to get started. Get your surveys together or start spying on your competitors if you are just starting out.
If you want to learn even more about buyer personas, I highly recommend the book Buyer Personas: How to Gain Insight into your Customer’s Expectations, Align your Marketing Strategies, and Win More Business by Adele Revella.
Do you have another way of compiling your buyer personas? Do you use them in a way I didn’t mention here? Leave a comment in the comments section below and tell us all about it.