Buyer Personas: Making Real Conversation With Fictional People
Buyer Personas: The What and the Why
The concept of buyer personas can seem really dumb to the uninitiated. You might be thinking, “Come on, Katie, am I really supposed to spend time on this?”
Yeah, definitely. Buyer personas are terrific tools that can lower your advertising costs and turn your messaging into a laser beam. Too many people never get around to them, and it shows.
But what are buyer personas?
Welp, buyer personas - sometimes called “client avatars” - are sort of fictional characters you create to represent your dream client. Each is a composite sketch that’s a useful touchstone for your marketing, social media, live streams, etc.
Without them, your messaging can get so generalized that no one feels you’re talking to them.
For example, let’s say you’re a dog trainer trying to get the word out. Who’s your typical client? Well, obviously, people with dogs. So let’s talk to…people with dogs.
Well, I have a dog. She’s a priority to me. I spend a lot of time and money on her. And she can be a hot, goofy, adorable mess, so…I guess that makes me your ideal client?
But wait. What about my neighbor, Taylor? She’s your “typical” dog owner too.
Taylor’s a Martha Stewart type - everything is perfect. Her dog, Sophie, goes on playdates and to “puppy practice” every week. She’ll likely be the first dog to get into college.
So I guess talk to her too?
Or - wait - you can talk to that guy at my coffee shop, Mason. He’s ex-military and owns a dog that’s super handsome and intimidating. Mason’s dog is a hunting dog. He’s definitely loved, but he’s expected to work too. Soooo…talk to him?
See what I mean?
One “typical” message ain’t gonna do it. And we may not all be who you want to work with.
So how do you craft your message? Who do you talk to? This is a job for a buyer persona.
What Breed of Client Do You Want?
Dogs aren’t the only things that come in different breeds. You need to figure out what your breed of client is and talk to them directly. This is where buyer personas come into play.
With buyer personas, you can get way more intentional in your marketing. You can prioritize your efforts based on who you really want to see walk through your digital front door.
“Your ideal customer avatar is a customer profile that is a best-case scenario for your business,” Marketing expert Minal Sampt told Forbes.com, “Perhaps it’s someone who is a big spender, a regular who consistently returns, someone who speaks well of your business within their networks, or all three.
Buyer personas are precision tools that help you connect to the people you’re meant to work with. In this blog, we’re going to discuss how to build buyer personas. We’ll start by asking some good questions. From there we’ll weave your ideal client’s storyline.
Where to Begin
Creating buyer personas can, at first, feel ridiculous. Like it’s a school assignment. But remember, you’re laying down the foundation of how to speak effectively to your best clients.
So...no joke. Consider this real and deep work.
Treat it like any work project or appointment. Plot some time in your calendar for it, turn off your phone, and focus on the story of your ideal client.
One great way to begin is to start with someone you already know.
Do you have a customer who’s a pleasure to serve? The one that gives great feedback. The one who buys everything and tells their friends.The one you wish you had a hundred more like.
If you have a customer like that - congrats! That person is basically an instant buyer persona.
If no one comes to mind, buyer personas can be started pretty easily with just some basic demographic points. Watch!
Demographic questions good for building buyer personas are things like:
Level of Education
In fact, let’s put these together. We’ll stick with the dog training motif.
Buyer personas need a name, so let’s call this ideal client “Laurie.”
Laurie is a 38-year-old woman who lives in Austin. She makes 95,000 a year as a realtor. She almost got a BBA in marketing but began earning quickly in real estate, so she left school and never finished. She’s married to Reggie who’s a landscape designer.
You see how quickly buyer personas can create a realistic picture?
By starting just with demographics, Laurie already seems like a person you can speak authentically to.
But psychographics is where buyer personas get rrrrreally interesting.
These are the questions about your buying persona’s values, hobbies, preferences, and what drives them.
Some good psychographic questions are:
Do they seek out new things or do they value conformity?
How do they spend their free time?
What do they dream about?
Introvert or Extrovert?
What scares them?
Do they prioritize their work or their family?
Are they optimistic or pessimistic?
What charities do they support?
Do they have an active or sedentary lifestyle?
Are they a drinker?
Do they wish they had more time or more money?
Do they plan everything or fly by the seat of their pants?
What brands are they loyal to?
What kind of music do they listen to?
What social media platforms do they use?
Most of all, what’s their struggle?
Buyer personas fill out with the psychographic details.
“[T]houghtful use of psychographics will help you develop not only the messages and campaigns,” says Harvard Business Review, “but also the products and services that specific customers want and need.
This is what turns your faceless “dog owner” into a Katie, a Taylor, or a Mason. It’s what makes your messaging relevant, unified, and intuitive.
Time to Tell the Story
Now that we’ve met Laurie, we’ve dug into her demographics and psychographics, it’s time to tell her whole story.
Buyer personas are basically that - the story of your ideal client.
Laurie’s a 38 year old realtor who lives in Austin, Texas. She makes 95,000 and loves her job, but wants to earn more in commercial real estate. She’s married to Reggie, a landscape designer. They don’t have children and don’t plan to. All their parenting instincts go into their chihuahuas - Mitzi and Boone.
Laurie’s an extrovert who thinks she’s an introvert. She loves to entertain and nothing is better than relaxing with friends. She’s fashionable, but not fussy. Sometimes she struggles with a little FOMO.
Laurie and Reggie spoil the dogs. Their world revolves around them. Now that they’ve gotten Mitzi, to replace their late dog Denny, they’ve been struggling to keep harmony in the house - Mitzi is peeing inside and growling over food. They’re committed to finding an answer, but they need to have the answer fit reasonably into their schedule and not involve any kind of physical punishment.
And boom! You have a buyer persona of your ideal client.
From now on, when you speak…talk to Laurie. Calm her fears. Help her out. Answer her objections. Inspire her.
Buyer personas are there to help you reach your ideal client’s heart and mind. They open both of you up to a meaningful conversation.
Let the Rest Go
Is everyone Laurie? No. But so what. If you talk specifically to her, the people who matter most will get your message.
Buyer personas create resonance. You stop pitching and start connecting.
Yeah, there will be the others. The ones who don’t fit inside your sketch. It’s okay. Let them go. They’re for somebody else.
Your job isn’t to be there for everyone. It’s to be there for someone. Pick your someone, and then be sure to be there for them.
Worried about connecting with your ideal clients?
We talk all about FINDING the right clients in my free coaching hour, Brave Biz Lab.
Forbes.com, What Is An Ideal Client Avatar?, Henry DeVries
Harvard Business Review, Psychographics Are Just as Important for Marketers as Demographics, Alexandra Samuel