Evolving Your Buyer Persona: Why It Matters
Fact: You’re not the same person you were 12 months ago, let alone two or five years ago — and neither are your buyers. This is why your buyer persona likely needs an update.
2020 created a paradigm shift in customer attitudes and buying behavior. Thanks to a global pandemic, we’ve all had to make countless lifestyle changes in how we live, work, shop, connect and more.
Think of it like this. Your buyers have had at least three fundamental changes since 2020:
- Budgets have changed. For some, their budgets may have gone up. For others, they may be significantly tightening their budget and/or are looking for ways to cut costs.
- Buyers are much more comfortable operating remotely. In 2020, ecommerce saw a 31.8% increase in spending from Q1 to Q2 alone.
- Technology is exploding in everyday life, changing buyers in ways that must be recognized if you want to stay relevant.
These changes are why it’s more important than ever to evolve your buyer persona in 2021.
What IS a Buyer Persona?
Often people think of buyer personas as a demographic breakdown. An example of this approach would be a woman, 20 – 35 years old, who has one child under age two, lives in the suburbs and drives a minivan.
But as people, we are more than our basic demographics, so trying to put a rigid box around each person is a very limiting and unhelpful view.
Good buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal buyers. They’re based on actual buyer data and help you understand your customers and future customers better. Which, in turn, makes it easier for you to create content and offers based on their specific needs, behaviors and problems.
The best buyer personas are based on multiple sources such as market research, customer surveys, customer interviews and even feedback from the sales team on key concerns they face in the sales process.
Depending on how complex your business is, you could have one or two personas, or as many as 20. However, if you’re new to buyer personas or you haven’t updated yours in awhile, start small. More personas doesn’t necessarily mean more opportunity. You can always develop more personas down the road if you find it’s needed.
Do I Need a Negative Buyer Persona?
It’s a smart strategy to create a VIP section around your marketing, meaning you’re explicitly creating marketing and offers for your buyer persona — and you’re intentionally excluding your negative buyer personas.
A negative buyer person is a representation of who you don’t want as a customer. Examples of negative buyer personas may be do-it-yourself people who just want the research/how to but have no intention of buying your offer or companies with budgets or headcount less than/greater than a certain threshold.
By taking the time to define who you aren’t targeting you’ll be able to quickly eliminate the non-leads from your marketing database, which can help you focus your efforts and resources on the people or businesses most likely to buy.
This approach will help you achieve lower cost-per-lead and cost-per-customer, leading to a happier sales team and higher sales productivity.
How Do I Create or Update My Buyer Persona?
The best buyer personas are created through research, surveys and interviews of your specific target buyers. This could include a mix of customers, prospects and people who aren’t prospects yet, but fit your ideal buyer profile.
Some ways to go about this include:
- Conduct live customer interviews. Zoom, phone and even in-person meetings can work well. Ask customers what they like about your product or service and let them talk.
- Audit your sales pipeline for trends on the type of content that is attracting traffic.
- Audit your customer database for trends on content consumed through the sales process, where they came from and any other trends you capture.
- Append your buyer database with key demographic information from a company like Experian.
- Use forms on your website to capture important information. For example, if you specialize in companies with 250 – 1,000 employees, ask about company size so you can quickly weed out prospects from non-prospects.
- Listen in on sales calls to hear live sales conversations as they’re happening and discover more about the audience you’re attracting.
- Interview top-performing sales people and/or sales managers to get feedback on their best prospects/people they see as most likely to buy.
The Buyer Persona Template
When looking to create a buyer persona, having a template can help make the process easier. By breaking it down into four key sections, you can take time to consider each aspect of their needs and how you can serve them.
Be specific in who you’re targeting. What’s the average age range? What else do you know about them? This is where the buyer insights come in handy to help you understand more of the demographics of this persona.
Go beyond buyer demographics and into their goals and challenges and how your company helps achieve those goals.
In this section it’s important to have those customer and prospect interviews so you can highlight actual quotes that further clarify the goals and challenges your persona has. Using their actual words helps to make this persona more real as you’re creating content for them. It’s also important to understand the most common objections to buying so you can help overcome those objections as part of your inbound marketing process.
This is your value proposition and marketing message for your persona. When done correctly, your messaging will speak right to your ideal buyers and intrigue them enough to evaluate your offer.
Your Buyer Persona Continually Evolves
Buyers are not stagnant creatures, and as we learned in 2020, things can turn on dime. With that in mind, you should consider how you can measure and validate your buyer persona to ensure it’s working and address any deficiencies.
Consider validating your buyer persona on a quarterly basis and updating it formally once a year. Make use of various feedback methods and your marketing audits to ensure your buyer persona is lining up with your actual buyers.
By treating your buyer persona as something that’s always evolving, you’ll be best positioned to meet the demands of your customer base.
Do you need help building, validating or updating your buyer personas?
Accelaris is a full-service inbound marketing agency offering a customer-first approach to your marketing. Book a free consult call to discuss how we can help.
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With over 20 years of experience, Michelle Evans knows marketing. In 2012, after a successful 16-year career in global marketing strategy at Microsoft, she launched her consultancy, which eventually evolved into Accelaris.
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