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What is a Buyer Persona and how to take advantage of them

By June 10, 2017August 19th, 2017No Comments

What is a Buyer Persona

Built from the real words of real buyers, a buyer persona tells you what prospective customers are thinking and doing as they weigh their options to address a problem that your company resolves. Much more than a one-dimensional profile of the people you need to influence, or a map of their journey, actionable buyer personas reveal insights about your buyers’ decisions — the specific attitudes, concerns and criteria that drive prospective customers to choose you, your competitor or the status quo.

A buyer persona is not merely a description of your buyer. As hundreds of our partners and customers can tell you, simply profiling your buyer results in too many personas and not nearly enough marketing guidance.

But when you have insights into what your buyers think about doing business with you, including verbatim quotes from people who have recently made the decision to solve a similar problem, you have the knowledge you need to align your marketing decisions — from positioning and messaging through content marketing and sales enablement – with your buyer’s expectations.

The ROI is this simple: When you know how to help buyers evaluate your approach on their own terms, you build a bond of trust that competitors can’t match.

5 Rings of Buying Insight™ for Buyer Personas

Priority Initiatives

What causes certain buyers to invest in solutions like yours, and what is different about  buyers who are satisfied with the status quo?

Tips and Examples

  • Do not confuse Priority Initiatives with pain points that you simply reverse-engineer based on the capabilities of your solution.
  • You want to understand the personal or organizational circumstances that cause your buyers to allocate their time, budget, or political capital to resolve the pain.
  • For example, you could guess that the marketing executive buyer persona has pain in the area of marketing metrics and campaign automation. But an insightful buyer persona would tell you which marketing executives are most (and least) receptive to your marketing automation solution and why.

Success Factors

What operational or personal results does your buyer persona expect to achieve by purchasing this solution?

Tips and Examples

  • Success Factors resemble benefits, but this insight is far more specific and written from the buyer’s perspective.
  • For example, you might currently emphasize your solution’s impact on cost reduction, but an insightful buyer persona would identify the category and degree of cost reduction that buyers anticipate.
  • Examples of personal outcomes include impressing peers, widening the buyer’s sphere of influence, or increasing their ability to control something about their environment.

Perceived Barriers

What concerns cause your buyer to believe that your solution or company is not their best option?

Tips and Examples

  • Expect to gain insights into product or company-specific barriers that are no longer (or never were) factually correct.
  • These perceptions often result from negative experiences with similar solutions, online interactions, or direct feedback from peers.
  • Other barriers relate to personal or business obstacles that prevent your buyer from investing in change. Examples include the need for business process change, gaining acceptance from end users, or other politically-charged issues.

Buyer’s Journey

This insight reveals details about who and what impacts your buyer as they evaluate their options and select one.

Tips and Examples

  • To help you target the most influential buyer personas, this insight identifies which personas have the most impact on the decision to continue to evaluate your solution at each step in the process. (Tip: the economic buyer or decision maker isn’t as influential as you think.)
  • To help you prioritize your marketing investments, you need to know which resources the buyer trusts at each step of their evaluation for this decision. For example, a marketing executive would not rely on the same resources for decisions about web conferencing and off-site event planning.
  • For persuasive messaging and content, the Buying Process insight specifies the Decision Criteria, Success Factor, and/or Perceived Barrier that has the most impact on the buyer’s choice at each step.

Decision Criteria

Which aspects of the competing products, services, solutions or company does your buyer perceive as most critical, and what are their expectations for each?

Tips and Examples

  • You will know which of your capabilities has the most impact on your buyer’s choice to do business with you. (Tip: this is unlikely to relate to what is newest or most unique).
  • This insight informs messaging and content marketing decisions, clarifying both the buyer’s questions and the answers they want to hear.
  • For example, if the buyer wants a solution that is “easy-to-use”, the Decision Criteria Insight specifies which aspects of the solution this persona expects to be “easy to use” and how they determine which solution is the easiest.