Actually, most businesses do have buyer personas. They may not know it, but if you asked them and they were to rifle that drawer in the boiler room marked “Gretchen’s Birthday – 1995” you’d be as surprised as they were that there was a folder there labeled “buyer personas”. However, these buyer personas are, more often than not, useless. They might as well not even have taken the time to make these profiles because making poor buyer personas is as bad as not having buyer personas at all.
In fact, we’ll tell you right now why you need buyer personas and how to keep them relevant.
Buyer Personas – The Common Misconception
A buyer persona should never be confused with a customer profile, and yet many personas are full of facts that are useless to companies, especially in the B2B game. For example, if you’re a company that provides cloud storage for businesses, you won’t need to know that the company employees prefer hybrid cars over standard gas cars. Instead, you’d want to know what kind of data is the company looking to store, what will it be used for, how often will it be accessed, and will they need to make it available to several groups. Questions about what the company does and how the company does it are infinitely better to know than how many company outings a year they have.
When meeting with someone, you ask them about their home life or their relationships or their hobbies and then you make a mental file of them in your brain cabinet so you can relate to them later on. Buyer personas are not meant for staying in touch with clients but rather what the client wants and needs. That should be the goal of any buyer persona you make, and any buyer persona that isn’t up to that standard should be redone.
The Important Questions
Though buyer personas have become a buzzword in the professional world lately, it appears that most businesses don’t understand what they’re actually meant to do. Smaller businesses will run through a checklist of things they need to have for a successful marketing strategy and will make buyer personas just to check that box off. A lot of the time they don’t know why you need buyer personas because they don’t know how to make them, so here is a list of questions that every successful buyer persona should answer:
- What is important to them and what determines its importance?
- What are they looking to change about themselves and what’s keeping them from doing it?
- Where do they get their advice from?
- What do they expect the decisions they make to bring them?
- How willing are they to accept change?
- How will change help them reach their end goal?
These questions are geared around change, “change” here meaning looking at new services or changing the services/products they currently use, because change is how companies stay in the forefront. By understanding how they want to change, you can understand how to best serve them.
Buyer personas are your key to understanding what needs to be supplied even when the demand isn’t obvious. You need to understand what people are looking to buy and why, if you want to be successful, you have to keep your buyer personas up to date.
Photo from 13 Marketing Musts for 2013
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