What is a common mistake made by most brands today?
They do not build brand personas. They develop a beautiful product, design a complete content marketing strategy, and launch campaigns, all without taking into account who their target customers really are.
Sure, some obligatory data points are considered to decide the target audience. But without meaningful context, you’re essentially left with faceless, nameless users that might or might not convert. And this means that even after putting months of effort into audience targeting, you’ll see little to no results.
There’s a simple solution to this problem – building buyer personas!
Defining buyer personas can help a great deal in building a consistent brand identity. It allows you to see things from your audience’s point of view, their challenges, pain points, and objectives, which ultimately helps you build a meaningful relationship with them.
In this article, we’ll look at how buyer personas help build brand identity. We'll also take you through the process of building effective buyer personas.
What is a buyer persona?
The buyer persona, also known as the audience persona, marketing persona, or customer persona, is essentially a fictional representation of your ideal buyer. Building buyer personas give you a clearer picture of your target audience, allowing you to build targeted, effective content that speaks to the audience's challenges and goals.
We'll discuss the process of creating buyer personas in the later sections, but for now, you should know that each buyer persona is usually given a name. This is a name that describes their behavior or buying habits, like BuyEverythingBill, CarefulCarrie, or TrendyTom. Every buyer persona is also defined by other identifiers like their background, challenges, goals, etc.
Buyer Persona vs. Target Audience
Many people confuse the terms target audience and buyer persona, often using them interchangeably. Buyer personas are, in fact, very different from your target audience. They are much more focused.
With a target audience, you are defining a group of your ideal customers, but buyer personas give you an opportunity to zoom in and observe the different members of the group. Every buyer persona is an archetype of an individual buyer. It gives you insight into their buying habits, allowing you to market your product better.
In its blog post on building audience personas, Narrato - an AI content planning and creation platform - explains the difference between a buyer persona and a target audience with the help of an example. Let's assume that you have an app development tool that can make the job of tech professionals easier. Your target audience would consist of ambitious technology professionals aged 25-35, who are working in SMEs. This description gives you a bird's eye view of that market segment. Now, take a look at the buyer persona (Technology Tom) given below. This gives you a better picture of the person you're targeting.
How do buyer personas help in shaping brand identity?
You can't sell your product to an audience you don't understand. And this is why creating buyer personas are so important. Creating buyer personas can be a great way to build your brand identity in the web space. Just look at the content published by popular platforms like Buzzfeed and The New Yorker. You can immediately tell their target audience is not a faceless statistic but real people.
When you create buyer personas, you get an opportunity to forge greater connectivity with your target audience. You can better appreciate their values, attitudes, and needs. It also provides you with crucial information that you can use in product development, customer acquisition, and retention. And this allows you to communicate a value proposition that is powerful enough to encourage your prospects to take action. In fact, buyer personas have helped almost 82% of businesses in improving their value proposition.
How to build buyer personas
So, now we’ve come to the fun bit – creating a buyer persona. Although it might seem daunting initially, we’ll break it down into simple, manageable steps that you can always refer to while building a buyer persona. It’s also important to remember that you don’t necessarily have to build all your buyer personas at once. Doing that can leave you overwhelmed, and you might not be able to build a well-rounded buyer persona.
With that in mind, let’s look at the first step.
Step 1: Conducting the research
Researching your buyer personas is the most crucial step of the process, so it’s important to do it carefully. Even if you think you have a good idea about your ideal customers, it’s always worth digging in a little deeper. Your research should not be limited to the people already buying from you, but those you want to target in the future.
Let’s take a look at how you can conduct for each of these buyer types –
The people already buying from you. It is easiest to start with the people you already know. Take a look at your existing customers. Ask yourself –
- Who is the final decision maker?
- Who was it that first contacted you?
- What was their job role?
- What does their personal life look like?: Their age, marital status, kids/no kids, hobbies.
So now you know what you want to ask. How will you obtain the answers to this? There are two ways –
- Talk to your clients directly: The best way to know more about your clients is by talking to them directly. You can send out a brief survey with your questions. You can also give them the incentive to complete the survey.
- Talk to the customer-facing team: Your customer success team, sales team, and account manager would be able to provide the best insights about your current clients. Taking to them will give you a better sense of who you’re working with.
The people you would like to buy from you. The next set of people you should research is those that you want to target in the future. Is there a market segment that your sales and marketing teams cannot convert? It could also be a segment that your competition is seeing a lot of success in. So, here’s how you can narrow down your research –
- Where do you wish to see your company going? Research the clients you want to target in the future. Examine what they are interested in, what challenges they face, and what their lives are like.
- Are your competitors seeing success in a particular segment? Check out your competitors’ websites. See what audience segment they are targeting with their content. This will give you an idea about the ideal buyers you should target in the future.
- Examine your own analytics: The best way to get concrete data about your ideal buyers is by looking through your own analytics, whether it is your social media accounts, website, or PPC campaigns. Look at the pages your website visitors are viewing the most. Which of your offers is being used the most? This will provide you with more insights about your target buyers.
Step 2: Collating the research and segmenting buyer personas
Once your research is done, the rest of the steps will come fairly easily. Now, you can start collating all the relevant data you've collected. Here is how this is done –
- Start by organizing the information: After researching your ideal buyers, step away from the research for a bit. This will allow you to look at the information in a new way when you come back to it. Organize everything you’ve learned about your clients in a logical manner.
- Look for any similarities: Once you’re done organizing the information, look for any similarities in the challenges and goals uncovered in the research. This will make it easier for you to group the potential buyers into different sets of audience personas.
- Decide the number of buyer personas you want to create: The first two steps will give you a fair idea about the number of buyer personas you can create with the research you already have. But you don’t have to create all the buyer personas together. Start off by creating a buyer persona for the market segment you sell to the most. As you gather more data about your prospects, you can keep updating these audience personas.
- Segmenting buyer personas: How you segment your buyer personas is entirely dependent on you. You can segment the personas based on where they are in the sales funnel – top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and bottom of the funnel. This will make it easier for you to nurture them through the right channels and messages later.
Step 3: Create a story for your buyer persona
This is the step in which you actually start building buyer personas. The first thing you have to do is give your buyer persona a name. These names will define their key attributes. For instance, there is a market segment of people you’ve identified who love keeping up with the latest trends and buying new things. You can name this buyer persona Trendy Tom or Trendy Tracy. This exercise aims to connect with your ideal buyers on a more personal level.
After you’ve decided on a name for your buyer persona, note down every piece of information you have about the person. For instance –
- Job Title
- Personal and professional goals
- Pain points
Now that you have all the relevant information, you can build a story around each buyer persona. You can try the stream-of-consciousness writing technique to write your buyer persona’s full profile story. Use the information you have to build a story and keep writing without overthinking it. Make the process fun. After you have a first draft of the story, you can summon the creative juices to paint a well-rounded picture of your buyer persona. Your content marketing and sales teams will be able to connect better with stories, which will make it easier for them to tailor their services to the buyers’ needs in real life.
Step 4: Examine your buyer persona’s roles, goals, and challenges
To create targeted value propositions, you need to look closely at your buyer personas. More specifically, their goals, roles, and challenges –
- Buyer Persona Roles: You already have all the necessary information about your buyer personas. From this information, pull out anything relevant to the ‘roles’ of this market segment. This can refer to their roles both in and outside of work. When your marketing and sales teams know the roles of the buyer they are targeting, they’ll be able to create content that speaks to these specific roles.
- Buyer Persona Objectives: To make content that genuinely helps your target customers and builds your brand identity, you need to understand what your buyer personas want. Pull out your buyer persona's goals and objectives from the story you wrote. Even if these objectives are not related to what you are offering, you can pitch your marketing message in a way that better aligns with their goals.
- Buyer Persona Challenges: This is where you can get the most information for building your value proposition. By understanding your buyer persona's challenges and pain points, you can work on solving them (through your product). The more challenges you identify, the more opportunities you’ll get to provide solutions for them. And the more solutions you offer, the greater the chances of building brand loyalty.
Step 5: Using the buyer personas to build brand identity
By now, you have a clear picture of your buyer personas and their goals, challenges, and pain points. You can now develop tailored marketing and sales strategy for these buyer personas. To build your brand identity with buyer personas, here's what you can do -
- Familiarize the marketing and sales teams with each buyer persona.
- Create content that speaks to the buyer persona's identified challenges and pain points.
- Design ad campaigns based on the preferences of each buyer persona. Buyer personas will also help you determine which platforms are the best for launching ad campaigns.
- Examine your existing content and see if it speaks to any of your buyer personas. If it doesn't, you can update the content to make it more relevant.
Now that you know all the steps involved in building buyer personas, you can repeat the exercise to build multiple buyer personas for your brand. Equipped with a complete set of detailed buyer personas, you can build and launch your brand to be more suited to your target customers' needs. By placing the challenges and goals of your buyer personas front and center, you'll be able to generate more qualified leads and see some serious growth in your business.