Your marketing relies heavily on your understanding of your audience, as well as a balanced breakfast, probably. Entire marketing strategies and plans can be made or broken by not fully understanding who the message is intended. To better understand your audiences, it’s common to create buyer personas.
What are buyer personas?
A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal target audience. The buyer persona can contain information such as demographic details, a name, behaviors, pain points, goals, and any other details that would help you better understand your audience. It allows you to better digest your target audience for planning purposes, like the high fiber in Raisin Bran.
How do we create these personas?
The simple answer: Research.
If you have customer data that is the perfect place to begin. Dive into your data like you do a fresh bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, objectively the greatest cereal made, and see what you can uncover about your target audience. Determine which segments convert more often and who these people are.
Figure out where they do their shopping or where they spend their time. What media outlets are they most interested in? Which social media networks are they a part of? Where do they live? What are their jobs? Pull as much information as you can from your data.
What motivates your customer?
This might be a good opportunity to introduce yourself to your sales team, assuming you haven’t already. Speaking with the folks who interact most often with your customers will give you insights like pain points and goals. What are your customers trying to accomplish? What problems do they typically encounter?
You can also use social listening as a tool to determine pain points and goals. Social listening is essentially using social media to uncover online conversations between your customers. If it helps, you can even pretend to be the Cookie Crisp Thief on a heist — whatever you need to do to make it more exciting. Just leave the dog at home.
Determining this information about your customer will allow you to tailor your messaging so that it provides the most value and in turn produces the greatest number of conversions.
What are some examples of buyer personas?
Once you’ve done your research and discovered who your buyers are, you’ll want to begin building the fictional representation as a singular person… or in this case character. Since I’m the blog’s author and single-handedly dictate the direction of the narrative, I will be using one of the greatest marketing tools ever put into practice: the breakfast cereal mascot. These lifetime companions of sugary snacks will act as the fictional representation of our personas.
Tony the Tiger
Start by listing some quick facts to get to know Tony.
Age: 68 years old
Works at The Kellogg Company
His family lives in a multigenerational household and are identified solely by their relationship to Tony: Mama Tony (Mother), Mrs. Tony (Wife), Tony Jr. (Son), and Antionette (Daughter).
Currently shares a voice actor (Youngstown native, Jim Cummings) with a character whose personality is his exact opposite: Winnie the Pooh
Now, get a bit more personal and mix in some of those motivations:
Tony the Tiger lives an active lifestyle, participating in every sport you can name and consistently attending the Olympics. He’s constantly on the go spreading awareness to children about how “Grrreat!” Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes are despite the dislike of flakes most children hold. Ultimately, his goal is to increase the physical activity in children’s lives by adding Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes to their diets.
However, he is facing some issues since Frosted Flakes are a breakfast cereal covered in sugar. The product itself is creating a hurdle that Tony has spent his career overcoming.
The name itself also presents a branding issue as ‘Frosted Flakes’ is so generic it can’t be trademarked and therefore shares its name with countless knock-off cereals. It’s an uphill battle for Tony to convince parents that his particular flakes covered in frosting are healthy.
Full Name: Horatio Magellan Crunch
Vessel: S.S. Guppy
Birthplace: Crunch Island (a magical island off the coast of Ohio and in the Sea of Milk)
Captain Horatio Magellan Crunch is a beloved mascot who just wants children to enjoy his sugary, crunchy corn, and oat-based cereals. He has spent his lifetime defeating cereal adversaries like the dreaded pirate Jean LaFoote and aliens called “The Soggies.”
Although a highly decorated naval captain, Captain Crunch faces more than bad guys, his issues lie in the very product description with which he shares a name: Crunch. Cap’n Crunch cereal is notorious for ruining a perfectly healthy mouth roof and gums.
What do you do with your persona now?
Now that you’ve created your persona(s) you want to keep these somewhere you and your marketing team can easily access. Any time a question of messaging or target audience arises, refer to your personas. Get to know them and make sure your marketing is creating value for these people.
Each year, when reviewing your marketing plan and strategy, you might need to make updates to these personas. Use your customer data to determine if they have shifted at all.
It might even be a good idea to add a negative persona to the mix.
What is a Negative Persona?
The negative persona represents the opposite of your customer. These are the people you want to avoid. Try not to create messaging these folks will be attracted to since they either won't convert anyway or they're a bad fit for your brand.
Mikey hates everything but is easily pressured into decisions, especially if by his brothers. This picky eater however does like Life Cereal… a bland, Chex knock off that is only purchased by parents who think it’s a healthy alternative. They even went as far as adopting “Mikey Likes It!” as a tagline as if Mikey’s opinion is enough to sway people away from cereal with flavor.
The purpose of the persona
Buyer Personas will remind your marketing team that at the end of the day it’s your customers’ needs and motivations that are most important. Providing value to your customer will result in more conversions and increased sales.