MaRS Library Buyer personas for effective sales and marketing
A buyer persona is essentially a story about your typical buyer. They represent your company’s real or target audience. Understanding your buyer will help to ensure the effectiveness of your sales and marketing strategies.
A “buyer” is the person who gives approval for the purchase of your product (for more information on the other types of buyers, read the article Stakeholder management in technology sales).
- Your buyer persona is a brief biography of the typical customer. It includes:
- The buyer’s job description
- A description of the person
- The buyer’s background and daily activities
- A look at how that person deals with his or her current set of problems
Multiple buyer personas
You might have more than one buyer persona. You should have a different buyer persona for each target market and for each version of your product.
Keep in mind too that with a consumer-oriented product, the buyer and the user may be one and the same person. They will have different priorities based on their buyer persona and their user persona.
Your level of experience in the market will dictate how much you know about the buyer, as well as the relative accuracy of the buyer persona.
A well-crafted buyer persona will enable your marketing department to clarify the goals, concerns, preferences and decision-making processes most relevant to your company’s customers. A strong understanding of your buyer persona will enable you to more effectively target your marketing message.
The importance of buyer personas in sales and marketing
Buyer personas are essential for helping your organization to understand who it is selling to, what their pain points are and how your solution can be applied. By grouping buyers into distinct groups, understanding the problems these groups have and how you can solve them, and documenting what you know about each buyer persona, you will be able to craft a marketing message that speaks directly to your buyers by:
- Grouping buyers into distinct groups
- Understanding the problems these groups have
- How you can solve these problems
- Documenting what you know about each buyer persona
Five steps for creating buyer personas
Follow these steps to get started on creating a buyer persona:
- Interview your customers and the people who comprise your market.
- Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes, and in the buyer’s world, as much as possible. This involves developing an understanding of their education, their role and their approach to their job. By understanding their day-to-day activities, you will be able to paint a picture of their day and expected behaviours.
- Name each buyer persona, and provide each one with a background. By naming them and making each background fulsome, you will develop a memorable persona for your entire organization. Their background could include their education (for example, high school vs. graduate school), family situation (single vs. married with children) and setting (suburbia vs. downtown). The intention is to paint a picture that allows your organization to envision each persona.
- Develop a written document (see sample below) that outlines each buyer persona. Write each persona like a narrative that outlines that persona’s preferences and background.
- Share your buyer personas with all key members in your organization. As you expand into new target markets, or learn more about your customers, revisit the personas to ensure that they are still accurate.
Example: Buyer persona for a mobile phone company
Background: Martin lives in Oakville with his wife and three teenage children. He works in an office in downtown Toronto where he manages a department of 10 employees.
Martin likes to golf and play squash. He and his wife divide their household duties. He is in charge of the household finances. He likes to find deals and ensure that he’s getting the most for his dollar.
Martin and his wife like to know where their kids are, so they’ve purchased mobile phones. He wants to make sure they are safe, but also doesn’t want to break the bank.
Note: In this example, you can decide what type of mobile phone plans Martin may want, and what type of features they should have.
Buyer Persona Blog. (2010). Retrieved July 14, 2010, from http://www.buyerpersona.com/adeles-blog
Pragmatic Marketing. (2010). Understand Buyer Personas. Retrieved July 14, 2010, from http://www.pragmaticmarketing.com/tunedin/steps/understand-buyer-personas
Revella, Adele. (2010). Don’t Confuse Sales Support with Marketing: A Case Study. Retrieved July 14, 2010, from http://www.pragmaticmarketing.com/publications/magazine/3/4/0508ar
- Rise of the Business User: Enterprise IT and the effect of consumerization - MaRS Market Insights.
- Elements of a product’s value proposition: Functional, self-expressive and emotional benefits.
- Industry competition and threat of substitutes: Porter’s five forces.
- Earned Promotion: Getting attention in a digital world.
- Value proposition and Blank’s customer discovery method—Phase 1: State your hypotheses.