Building Your Customers’ Buyer Personas
by Ray Glier
Now that consumers are fully tethered to social media and the internet with their buying habits, it’s time for brands to relax with their sales megaphones. Sellers have to tone down their sales talk and become skilled listeners engaged in a two-way conversation with the consumer.
The brand that can develop an accurate picture of its buyers – even if it is one at a time – has a powerful tool because now it knows what is actually important to its real customers.
The buyer personas – the fictional and generalized representations of real people – are sitting at their computers ready to share intimate information. The seller, if they listen carefully and ask questions artfully, can build a better buyer persona with the help of social media and the internet.
If they are ready to listen.
“It is really important brands become listeners, rather than talkers,” says Sundar Bharadwaj, a professor of marketing in the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia. Then, they need to start asking questions about what is motivating or demotivating buyers.
Building the buyer persona in today’s marketplace is all about personalization. Bharadwaj can’t emphasize that enough. Sure, your product has benefits. But, relax, you need to first find out if a particular consumer sees the product the same way that you do, or figure out why they do not.
“You can’t have the urge to pitch,” Bharadwaj says. “Building the buying persona is not your sales task. It is learning about your customer so you can communicate your offering better.
The salespeople need to know that the biggest thing they can do is go back to the company and communicate to staffthat “Our current offering doesn’t cut it.” Or, “People love what we are selling.”
The brand has to understand why the consumer buys from them. That communication forms the platform for the buying persona.
It is really important brands become listeners, rather than talkers. Then, they need the ability to follow through and keep asking the question that starts with ‘why’.
–Sundar Bharadwaj, Professor, Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia
Where to Start
So, you want to create an accurate buyer persona? Here are some suggestions from the acclaimed inbound marketing blog Hubspot.
Get basic, get personal.
Collect demographic information, such as (but not limited to) annual household income, where they live, age, if they have children and educational background.
Look for some details of their career path. How did they end up where they are? Did they switch from another industry?
Learn about his or her company. What is the size your persona’s company? What is their role inside the company?
Find out about their work day. How is your persona evaluated day to day? Do they have to hit certain numbers? If your persona had to write a job description what would it be? And, what tools do they use on the job? What is the persona’s biggest challenge at work? What is their primary goal at work? Knowing these things will help you learn what you can do to help your persona achieve their goals.
Investigate a day-in-the-life of your persona. What do they like to
do for fun? What kind of car would they like to drive? What TV shows do they watch? The key is to get personal with these questions.
Explore how they get new information. Which associations or trade groups does your persona belong to? What do they read? What social media do they use? Do they use the internet to research vendors? How do they search?