Understanding How Buyer Personas Work
There is a common accepted standard amongst those practicing digital marketing to use buyer personas. Building an “avatar” or “persona” (however you prefer to name the profile), is imperative for continued success.
The art of identifying common traits amongst your most successful clients and profiling them has been around for years now, but there are personas and there are profiles, and knowing the difference between the two will ultimately determine your success.
However, this isn’t something I can clearly demonstrate in one short blog post so I shall be writing a series of articles to help you identify the differences.
Let me explain, but first to do so I need you to ask yourself a question, which type of person are you?
- The type of person who says to themselves, I tried that digital marketing stuff before, it didn’t work and it was expensive, a waste of time!
- The person who read a few articles and downloaded some ebooks on marketing funnels and content writing and is still not really seeing success?
- The type of individual who is proficient at marketing and has used personas and is only seeing limited results?
- Someone totally new to digital marketing?
Whatever your recognition, it doesn’t really matter, I asked more to see if you were aware of your current capabilities or understanding and become open to learning something new!
The Buyer’s Journey a Brief Reference
The buyer’s journey is the most commonly discussed pillar of understanding within buyer persona development. It particularly focuses on who the decision makers are in the buying process for consumers of your businesses products or services.
I’m making brief reference to this now, because most people only focus on this part of the buyer persona development process. They believe that by identifying each individual they can create content that that person would potentially be searching for and engage them within your marketing funnels.
The Fundamentals of Buyer Personas, Pillar by Pillar
There are in fact 5 pillars of understanding within buyer persona development. Combined they allow you to truly identify the information that you need to execute high converting digital marketing campaigns.
The Pillar of Priority
The pillar of priority explains the single most compelling reasons that a buyer would decide to invest in a solution like the one your business offers.
To grasp this pillar is to uncover the the details of the personal or business circumstances that push buyers to allocate their time, budget or political influence within a company into purchasing a product or service like yours.
Be aware that the information you will glean is typically focused on items with a high value as they often have a longer consideration time before deciding to purchase and closing a sale. Think of things like cars, software, property etc
Lower value items do not need such intense focus and are usually socially referred or socially habitual, like learned from friends or family.
The Pillar of Success
The success pillar is about the discovery of the operational or personal results that your persona expects from purchasing a product or service like yours.
They will look like benefits, but once you fully explore this you will see that they may resemble benefits, but they are not. The information gained here will stop you from second guessing, assuming or trying to reverse engineer your marketing messages based on your solutions capabilities.
For example, you may think that the main reason to purchase your product or service would be to enable your persona to cut costs, but actually by researching this pillar may reveal that the customer is most impressed by the reduction of business risk.
The Pillar of Perception
Capturing the information to master the the pillar of perception will give you the understanding of what your persona considers “bad news”.
This pillar is so named because it helps you understand what prevents your persona from considering your solution as a viable choice. It will also inform you as to why you buyers consider your rivals a better choice or why they have a better approach.
If you can prearm yourself with the knowledge in advance of what your persona considers their negative barriers to be and what is supporting that belief, you can set your marketing and sales messaging to maximum benefit. You can reassure your persona that your product or service will help them achieve their priority and success pillars.
The Buyers Journey
And we now talk about the buyers journey. The one part of the buyer persona creation process that all marketers are fully focused upon.
As previously stated, understanding this pillar helps you identify who is in control, or whom you have to talk to via your content at which stage of the decision making process during the evaluation of your product or service.
Use the data gained from this pillar to align your sales and marketing strategy and produce marketing media to speak to each different persona at each step of the way.
The Confirmation Pillar
The confirmation or decision pillar helps you understand what exactly appeals to the buyer about your product or service. It clarifies what the buyer is evaluating between your product or service . It clarifies what the buyer is evaluating between your solution and others and why they consider alternative approaches to yours.
This is one of my favourite pillars. When clients finally understand that “gut feelings” and “assumption” or “what worked last year” no longer matters, it’s a true epiphany.
This is the “ego removing” pillar and enables my clients to really move their businesses forward.
This is just an introduction, a way for me to help you explore further into persona development. For those experienced you may already know this and if you do, kudos to you. If you are reading this and you haven’t got experience with personas then this is certainly the best article to start with.
There are other things that you need to do to help you establish the information for each pillar and I will follow up with that in the next article.
Please feel free to jump in and ask questions, I’m happy to help with your own persona development.
Paul Sullivan is the founder of Paul Sullivan Marketing and a Customer Development Specialist. For more information or to discuss your companies digital marketing needs, please contact the agency on 0203 637 4426.