How Many Buyer Personas Do You Need?
Personas are representative of behaviour. In business they are used to model buying behaviour, giving us a buyer persona. All you have to do is identify how many different buyer personas you have then understand what problems they all face and how you can help them.
Think about your ideal customer; the person you have in mind when selling your product. Chances are you already know them; they are usually the ones currently buying from you.
You might think that hundreds of buyer personas are needed because for every buyer there is a different motivator, but from an inbound marketing perspective you need to focus on the most important ones.
It's not selling to all the people you can possibly sell it to, it's really about focusing on the ones you want to sell to.
Why is a buyer persona important?
Establishing your buyer personas is one of the first things on the list for an effective marketing campaign. It defines the ideal type of customer you are looking for and identifies their needs, pain points and purchase behaviour.
Knowing your ideal customer gives you an advantage in your marketing, because you can then tailor your content to specific interests they exhibit.
In short it narrows your focus in attracting customers who meet your criteria and make your marketing efforts and search rankings more effective. It helps your marketing determine the following:
- The kind of content to produce
- Your content topics
- The style and tone of your content
- How buyers get their information and where they go.
There isn't a standard number of buyer personas your company should have - but key to creating them is ensuring that you are acknowledging all the different behaviours that result in purchases.
Analysing your business niche
Your business might sell just one product in one market, or it could sell a single product across a number of different markets and sectors. Depending on what these sectors are you might need to come up with different sets of marketing analytics to create your buyer personas.
If you offer financial products then you will be covering every imaginable sector from tech startups selling SaaS products to hotels, small businesses and large construction firms. The reasons for requiring finance can be many.
In this situation you will discover there are many different buyer personas, each with different motivators, daily pain points and job titles. Yet each still requiring your services.
However if you just sell razor blades, then your buyer persona will be quite broad - either men or women.
Taking a good look at your business niche will help you identify who you currently sell to and what traits and motivators they reveal in their buying habits.
Creating your first buyer persona
Your first buyer persona should be the most important one, it shouldn’t define an individual, but rather generalise the traits your customers all have in common.
These are the most important questions you should be asking of your first buyer persona:
- What is their job title? - You can group more than one job title here, because more important is their job role. A financial director might make the decisions, but an accounts administrator will also experience similar day to day operations.
- What does their day involve? - Think about their aims and what tools they use during the course of their working day.
- What are their goals? - Look into what they are trying to ultimately achieve in their position and what they value most about their job or company.
- What are the pain points? - Everyone has difficulties and much of what we purchase is used to make our jobs or lives easier, think very hard about the relationship between their pain points and your products/services.
- Where do they go for solutions? - With pain points comes complaints and a search for something better, so find out where they are going, what they are saying and finally what they are doing about it.
Can you create another buyer persona?
After going through the above list, do you have enough information to form a clear picture of another unique buyer persona you can sell to?
If you can, then create another buyer persona. Remember there are only so many 'ideal' customers you can have. If you have a product that works on many levels and across many different sectors then create more, but eventually even the best of marketers will fail to convince an eskimo to buy an ice-maker.
Identifying your best customers
Sometimes going forward means retracing our steps. Think of the customers you already have, the loyal ones that make up the top 20% of your business. These are the customers you have already won over. So take some time to analyse what makes them your best customers.
In your analysis you should be looking at what they buy from you and their reasons for doing so. You'll find this already forms the basis for a buyer persona and targeting people who match up to it is at the heart of all your buyer personas.
Can you have too many personas?
After you have created your first buyer persona (and maybe your second and third), it might be tempting to keep narrowing down the list of attributes and buying behaviours. While tempting, sometimes fewer is better, having too many personas can make it difficult to create enough different content for each persona and your lines will become blurred.
There should be very clear differences between each of the personas you have outlined. With different job roles, and different industries often come different pain points, but you may find there is a lot of crossover too.
However, if you have analysed your data from successful leads and you can see clear differences in how they have reacted to your content, then it will clear the path to creating more defined buyer personas.
Changing and adapting your buyer personas
A buyer persona will never be a stagnant resource. The more information you gather, the more evolved your buyer persona will become. That means your marketing and content efforts become more aligned.
Feel free to amend, change or remove your buyer personas over time.
Buyer personas aren't about the prospects you could sell to, they are your ideal customers, the ones you are already selling to - hopefully successfully. You can create many buyer personas or just a few, but each should represent a different buying behaviour and you should be supporting each persona with the right content to encourage them along your sales funnel.