If you are in the business of selling, who are you selling to? Do you know the characteristics of your customers? To target your marketing well, you need an archetype, which marketers call the ‘Buyer Persona’ or sometimes the customer or marketing persona. And sometimes they use ‘Avatar’.
Each of these terms means the same thing. If you do the work, up front, of characterising the people you want to sell to, you can better target your marketing.
Why do we need a Buyer Persona or a Customer Avatar?
Quite simply, the answer is ‘targeting’.
The more precisely your advertising and marketing match the needs of your potential clients, the better they will resonate. And so, the more effective they will be.
To tailor your messages, images, and campaigns to your target customers, you need to know what they are like, and what they like. To do this, we define an archetypal model of each group of customers. These models are known as ‘personas’ or ‘avatars’ of the customer. And hence, customer persona, or buyer persona, or marketing persona, and so on.
What is a Buyer Persona?
When you have identified a particular type of customer, you will find that a lot of them have the same characteristics. So the technique is to draft a short biography of each one.
A buyer persona is a rough profile of one segment of the target audience for your marketing. It allows you to deliver content, messages, and adverts that this part of your audience will find most relevant, interesting, and resonant.
If you get your marketing persona right, and you tailor your messaging effectively, your strike rate in attracting them to your brand or products will be high.
Marketing Persona, Buyer Persona, or Customer Persona
I have been using these terms as though they are interchangeable. And, for most of us, they are.
But pause for a moment, and reflect on the differences.
Marketing persona refers specifically to the persona or avatar you create to help you engage potential buyers, through your marketing and advertising. We use these to help craft brand messaging, advertising, point of sale marketing, online content marketing, and other awareness-raising communications.
Buyer persona refers to the characteristics you harness to convert an interested prospect into someone who will buy. We use them to help a potential customer to make the decision that your product is the one they want, and so become a buyer. So you will appeal to a buyer avatar in packaging, sales copy, detailed product information.
Customer persona refers to the avatar or persona of the segment of people who have bought from you. As you want to retain their confidence and custom, and perhaps sell more and new products, it is to the customer avatar you will shape your after sale services, instructions, post conversion marketing, and surveys to appeal to your customer personas.
Persona or Avatar
I can find no consistent difference in the usage of these two words, except that persona is more common than avatar. I suspect this is because avatar has a vaguely (Hindu) religious connotation that may make some people wary of using it in case it seems disrespectful. That did not stop computer games makers co-opting the term. This, in itself, may be a reason why the term is less used by marketers.
So, take your pick; Sanskrit avatar, or Latin persona.
How to Create a Buyer Persona
Different adverts for different people. The end goal of advertising has always been to serve just the right ad to each person, at just the right time, via the right channel. Personas allow us to approach that ideal – and it is starting to seem like the internet’s capabilities will make this personalisation a reality soon.
So, create multiple personas; one for each group of people whom you want to attract.
The more precise you can be about each one, the better you’ll be able to craft your communications with them. Here is a list of the characteristics to work on.
The Characteristics of Your Buyer Persona
Who are they?
Start with basic demographic information, like:
- Social group
- Location – urban, suburban, rural
- Educational level
- Computer literacy
- Family life and status
- Work life, employment status and job type
- Training and work skills
- Financial status
- Income level
Often, from all of this, we come up with a name for our avatars. I use the simple expedient of choosing a first name taken from someone I have known, who best resembles my persona. Agencies often choose catchy labels like ‘soccer mom’ or ‘work-away dad’.
What are they Interested in?
Next, think about their interests, as relevant to your product or service:
- Work or professional interests
- Their leisure interests, like sports, music, hobbies, or social activities
- The sort of places they like to visit, such as particular shops, events, cultural places
- Their online activities, like websites, social media
- The brands and personalities they follow
- Where they buy products like yours from
- Where they get their news
- The magazines they read
- The type of books they like
What will Grab their Attention?
How will you hook their interest?
- Pain points and challenges in their personal or working lives
- Values and personal preferences
- Wants, desires and aspirations
- Needs and requirements from the work or lifestyle they follow
- Frustrations, problems and fears
- What is their self-image?
How can You Convert them to Buyers?
Now you need to understand their buying choices and how they make their decisions
- How do they make a buying decision?
- What objections might they make?
- Who influences their decisions?
- What decision-making values drive them?
- Speed and getting things quickly
- Safety and doing things right
- Cost and getting a bargain
- Features and getting the best
- Quality and having reliability
- Prestige and fitting in
- What outcomes do they want?
- How do they like to feel, when they buy?
What is Your experience of Marketing, Customer, or Buyer Personas?
We’d love to hear your experiences, ideas, and questions. Please leave them in the comments below.