Here’s the catch, in trying to please everyone you end up pleasing no one. There isn’t a product, service, or blog which would suit each one of us. Here comes the concept of buyer persona.
It’s an imaginary character, a made up person, someone, who buys your products or services.
My buyer persona at PayLane (years ago)
One of the first things, which I did after recruiting the first people to marketing department in PayLane was a meeting with the aim of identifying our ideal customer. The person, who could be interested in our services; a person, to whom we are going to direct our ads; in the end a person who is going to read our company blog.
And thus Tom Banks was born
Tom Banks (or otherwise Mr. Banks) is an imaginary character who was supposed to be that person, to whom we direct our services. In a nutshell: it was a young businessman, wearing a suit and yellow trainers. On the one hand, someone serious and elegant. Entrepreneur. On the other hand – a person still young at heart, not afraid of innovative solutions. Someone involved in business (web business / online business) in a modern way. In my mind it was always a startuper (or serial entrepreneur). Though not necessarily a startuper… but rather a SaaS owner, thinking about doing global business.
Our Banks had an account on Facebook (now it’s gone).
We also had photos of his birth.
He also had his board on Pinterest and has also shown up on some of our sites.
We’ve had some periods in our company, in which we forgot about Mr. Banks. When companies come to us from outside this characteristic, and whose names made an impression on us so great that we paid too much attention on them. That often went bad for us. When we came back to our roots, to Mr. Banks – I always felt, we were back on track. The track which were following till the end of my presidency at PayLane and which I were holding onto as much as I could.
Why do I need buyer persona?
Buyer persona is nothing but a person, on which you should focus your business on. It is they who you should target. It is they who will buy your services. With them in mind, you should make an offer, or a website. Having them in the back of your mind, you should think about the language that you will use to communicate with users, or fans. It’s about their needs you should think about when designing new functionalities in your web-based product. With them in mind you should finally choose team members in your company. Buyer persona is nothing but your customer. Your dream customer.
Buyer persona – example
Let’s suppose that you run an online shop. You sell sports equipment for water sports. Suppose that this is equipment for sports such as windsurfing, kitesurfing, wakeboarding.
Who could be your buyer persona? A man, aged about 25. He’s just finished university, he wants to take advantage of his final free remaining holiday moments – before going to a real, full-time job. There isn’t really too much money, since he’s just graduated from university. He’s looking for experience. Equipment, that will provide him with such an experience. Cool events. He looks rather casual, holiday dressed. A loose t-shirt, hoodie, shorts, trainers. He’s athletic and likes sports. He likes to be around people who like a variety of physical activities, especially in water activities.
A couple of things which result from this description:
- This is a guy – offers should be targeted above all for guys; the site should be designed for guys; the photos on the site should be appropriate for guys
- A young man, 25 years old – calmly, without awkwardness you can use the form “you” in all communication
- He won’t really have a problem with technology, with buying online
- Probably he prefers visual content – if you want to be present in social media, focus primarily on Instagram, YouTube; could be also TikTok, Facebook and Pinterest; I guess you won’t use Twitter and LinkedIn too much
- He’s just finished university – he’ll pay attention to the price of the equipment; there is no point in getting hold of and selling the product from the top shelf price
- He’s looking for cool events – he wants to actively spend his final holiday moments – it’s worth thinking about additional activities; perhaps some kind of house party for the fans of water sports(?)
- He’s dressed like a surfer – perhaps a t-shirt as a bonus to large orders or as an apology for the delay in delivery goods(?)
- And so on…
How much exactly should you describe your persona?
As accurately as possible. The better you know your customer, the more things you will know about them – and the better you will accommodate them with your offer, the better they will feel with Your service, and the more willing they will be to become Your customer. The more likely they will recommend You.
Do you need to inform users of your ideal customer? Does your customer need to know who your buyer persona is?
Of course not. That is for you. That is supposed to help you in designing web pages, business, preparing offers etc. It’s definitely worth getting to know all your colleagues with your buyer persona (so everyone would know exactly who their target customer is). As for the customers? You can inform them, but you don’t have to. As you wish.
What if the customer is not of my buyer persona characteristics?
As long as your products or services meet their needs – nothing. You can have 50-year-old buyers in your online surf shop designed for 25-year-old guys. There’s nothing wrong with it.
It’s important not to focus on them. Do not change services under their dictates. Do not conform your product to a user who isn’t your target, ideal customer.
Can the buyer persona change over time?
Of course! It’s not always that, at once, from the first day we find the ideal customer. Sometimes you need a pivot, sometimes you need to change your initial plans, adapt to market realities.
If at all costs, you try to get your product to a group of people, who aren’t willing to use it, it might be worth thinking about changing the target group to one that will need your service.
Of course it’s important here to do nothing by force. Don’t you feel good wearing a suit, talking with managers of huge corporations, with an average age of 50+? Nothing by force. If it is to them you will direct your service – sooner or later you will have enough. It’s Your business, Your product, Your service. Too much time you spend daily on work, to work with people, among whom you don’t feel good.
Is it worth visualizing your persona?
It’s not necessary but I highly recommend it. It’s always easier to talk with someone, who we see or at least someone, who we know what they look like. Photos also reveal a lot about a person. It’s easier for us to adapt to their needs, knowing how they look.
And so, in the end the buyer persona can be a fictional character, created by a graphic designer (just how we did so in the case of Mr. Banks), but I’d still recommend actual photos of a real human.
Does your company need to have only one buyer persona?
No, there can be more. But not too much, as it would blur the picture of your target group.
You can have a variety of products in your offer, eagerly bought by different people. In one shop you can even sell men’s and women’s clothing. Another buyer persona will be in the case of men’s clothing, in another case will be women’s clothing.
You can have a service or an app, that is used by people in various positions. Let this be a project management tool. Projects can be carried out by various departments… IT, marketing, lawyers. Different departments mean different buyer personas.
Even more than that, let me give you an example of my own situation.
Let’s look at Zielinski&co. We have a service called FinTech software development. In this case the buyer persona for us is a CTO of a FinTech company located in Europe. Which is different than CTO of a marketplace (for which we target marketplace software development services) and completely different than FinTech’s CEO or a compliance/operations c-level executives (to whom we target fintech regulations service) or some fintech’s/marketplace’s CEO/CMO to whom we target fintech marketing or marketplace marketing services. One company, different buyer personas for different services.
The same is with Deor. It’s a marketplace, so we have at least two sides of a business: supply side and demand side. And here we have the same situation. Different buyer persona is on a supply side (b2b cooperation) and different one is on a demand side (pet parent/owner/keeper; b2c cooperation). And even so, if you look deeper, you would realize that there are even more buyer personas here, because different buyer persona is when you talk to e-commerce site about adding their products to our marketplace and different one is if you talk to a vet, or a groomer about adding their companies to our database of pet/animal specialists.
How to create the ideal buyer persona for my company, app or service?
Through research. It’s not worth focusing solely on your own intuition, and your own preferences. You aren’t creating a service for yourselves, but for your customers. Buyer persona doesn’t necessarily have to look like how it was originally thought. Before determining who might be your dream customer, I recommend proceeding according to the following plan:
- Setup yourself a framework, e.g. we want to target SMBs operating in a SaaS model on the Spanish market, with at least 10 000 unique users per month on their website
- Do market research, e.g. check exactly which companies suit, designated by your framework, what they do, how many employees they have, in what positions
- Check whether there is enough number of such companies, is there a chance to build profitable business based on them; if not – you need to go back to step 1 and change your general framework; if yes – you can continue
- Find out who’s a decision maker at these companies, who decides on purchases, investments, new implementations (in range of your solutions – after all, you won’t be going to the head of the legal department with the proposal of purchasing marketing platform); find out who holds the position
- Select one of these companies as a model example of a dream company/customer
- Check a decision maker in the model company (check them up on google, check out the various social media sites, find out how they look, what they do, what they write, their age, their interests, who’s their friends)
- Check a similar way a person in a similar position from another company in your sphere of interest
- And another one from another company
- Compare all checked people, check whether the first-exposed person from your model company is similar to people occupying similar positions in other companies, if these people are somehow alike, look for a common denominator
- On the basis of these common characteristics – imagine (or paint) a picture of your dream customer; your buyer persona is exactly what stands right in front of your eyes
So are you ready to create your own persona?
Give it a try. It’s worth to.