Why success in scaling a business is like training for the Seven Summits

Scaling up with Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are not the document to be built by marketing and used by the marketing team only. When we demystify the buyer personas, it becomes evident that every stakeholder involved in the customer's journey can benefit from buyer personas too.

Buyer personas are an important resource in the organisation's playbook. They are living documents that need to be used, updated, discussed, and fine-tuned regularly. Just like a purpose-driven organisation that keeps on going irrespective of environmental upheavals, buyer personas help at a foundational level to the mission of the company and in the long run contribute to the robustness of the brand.

Digital Genie's 10-Point Buyer Persona worksheet is a great starting place to build a buyer persona. Grab your copy now.

The 10-points include demographic, psychographic details as well as the customer's problem statement. These are the foundational points which can be enhanced as per the company's requirement. In the digital world, information about your target audience might be available online but nothing supersedes a first-hand survey or interview with your clients while building a buyer persona.

To make buyer personas actionable, businesses should progressively work towards the details such as who the target audience is, their purchasing behaviour, and observe how their behaviour is shifting over time. Also, buyer personas differ in B2B versus B2C settings. There are two major differences:

1. B2C brands build user profiles based on emotions and feelings they want their brands to elicit whereas B2B brands build profiles on logic and benefits given by the product or the service.

2. B2C personas are focused on the day-to-day aspects such as social circles, hobbies, personal preferences while B2B personas focus on challenges and motivations of the gatekeeper and decision-maker of the organisation.

Companies at the start-up stage can leverage buyer personas to create and test a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and run pilots. In essence, companies of all sizes can leverage Buyer Personas.

There are long term benefits of buyer personas:
- Attract the ideal customers resulting in higher conversions.
- Build a trustworthy brand as the communications will address the biggest pain points of the customers.
- Prioritize leads and knowing whom to say no to and whom to say yes to.
- Allows staying relevant in a fast-paced digital environment.
- Generates brand coherence between products, between employees, and across the business.
- Last but not least, a well-designed & researched buyer persona can help businesses get a competitive advantage.

In the pandemic-ridden world, buyer personas can help companies get a better understanding of their customers. If your business has been using buyer persona as a resource to drive strategy, the following questions will help to optimise existing buyer personas:

1. Has your business evolved in terms of its products and services?
2. Have your customers evolved, perhaps now you have a new sub-segment of customers?
3. How has the customer journey changed? Shorter time due to high-tech collaboration? Or are customers accessing new perception points such as increased consumption of digital content?
4. On the competitive landscape, how has your positioning evolved?
5. What are the new trends emerging from the shifts during a pandemic when it comes to your customers?

Communications that are personalised appeal to the customers and to clarify that, buyer personas come in handy. It is more effective to target cold leads with persona-based content than targeting warm leads without using persona-based content.

Buyer personas creation is great, the important part is leveraging it. Some of the most common mistakes we notice while using buyer personas are as follows:

1. Buyer personas are created in a silo.
Key stakeholders across the organisation's departments need to be involved in building buyer personas.

2. Buyer Personas are developed in a rush.
Creating buyer personas is not an hour's task. It needs the time to simmer in, get inputs from different people and build it step-by-step.

3. Failing to see the client's perspective.
Buyer personas are ideally built by taking into consideration the client's inputs. In case it is not possible to interview a client, there are different ways to get your target audience to share their voice. Research is the most important way to get to know the client's perspective.

4. Making too many personas.
Too many personas or too few personas are both not helpful for optimising personas. Ideally, the bull's eye ideal customer needs 2-3 buyer personas for developing a marketing communications strategy.

5. Not updated regularly.
Buyer personas are a living resource so they should be referred to and updated regularly. Update buyer personas at least once a year.

6. Information
Too little or too much information on buyer personas is both not helpful. Too little does not allow different stakeholders to understand their target audience while too much information dilutes the understanding of the target audience.

Buyer personas provide the blueprint for marketing communications team and business strategy if the information captured is adequate.

Businesses looking to scale up should leverage on this ultimate business resource year on year.

This article is a collection of discussion points from the Live conversation on LinkedIn Dare To Scale Power Hour: Demystifying the Buyer Persona.

Author: Surbhi Dedhia
Founder, Digital Genie and JotMybio.com | Host of The Making of a Thought Leader podcast

Surbhi Dedhia is a brand strategist and a seasoned digital marketer. Surbhi partners with SMEs and their marketing teams to unlock business growth with the power of modern marketing. Her work experience across multiple industries and geographies within the B2B spectrum allows her to craft big picture innovative strategies and distill them into result-oriented actionable tasks for her clients. 
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