Five Effective Ways to use Buyer Personas

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To remind you a buyer persona is handy way of grouping customers or users together into archetypes with common needs and if we’ve done our job properly they are grounded in market research (not just built on assumptions). Here we look at five applications and uses you can put your personas to once you’ve got them in place.

If you’ve not yet arrived at your groups of buyer personas yet I’ve blogged previously about how to run a successful buyer persona workshop here.

Just to explain my terminology a little I’m using the term buyer personas as a generalisation as it could refer to user personas, supporter personas, customer personas or consumer personas. This will vary depending upon what sort of organisation you work in but the same principles apply as long as they represent a group of people with shared needs and common behaviour patterns.

Let’s assume we’ve done all of that work and we are confident that our set of buyer personas is validated and we’ve taken the time to give them a credible personality. What then can we use them for?

1.     Sharpening up your proposition(s) and portfolio

 When you have a set of personas that you feel covers the main buyer groups in the marketplace you can then go about assessing the degree to which your product or service portfolio delivers against their needs. This can then identify ways in which the portfolio needs to be shaped and evolved going forward to maximise coverage of the market space.

Note that in order for this to work you need to have defined your personas from a market perspective and not from an existing organisational perspective. In other words, if you’ve defined your personas based exclusively on the basis of your existing customer or user base then you may miss growth opportunities by being focussed too close to home.

A simple way of doing this is to plot your buyer personas against the services you provide and see which ones are relevant to which personas. This will quickly highlight any potential gaps – then as a team you can determine whether this is a gap you want to fill in the future or are you happy to let it pass.

Defining product portfolio strategy is one of the main elements of market strategy so you can see that buyer personas do not need to have a role only in the execution of service development but can have a more fundamental strategic role for the organisation.

2.     Mapping out your customer journey

Customer journey mapping is one of the key tools in developing new services, user experience or optimising existing services. Using buyer personas as a focal point for customer journey mapping is a handy way to keep things focussed around customer needs and allows you to acknowledge that different user groups may have differing requirements throughout that journey.

Customer journey mapping is another tool that is pretty intuitive to understand and visual in nature so makes it easy for people from different disciplines in the team to relate to especially when coupled with a well-crafted set of buyer personas.

3.     Aligning your employees and teams on the same page

Personas can be used to share insights about your customers across different departments or even across the organisation. They are characters that can be used to align an interdisciplinary team and help them get on the same page.

When used wisely they can help the broader team to build empathy with customer groups and envisage stepping into their shoes.

4.     Bringing your customers to life

In order to help everyone in the business engage with these personas seemingly trivial aspects such as the persona name become important as they can take on a shorthand for that perspective on the services we provide. What would “Data-led Dan” think of this?

The way the personas are brought to life needs to be accessible and understandable to all the audiences you wish to engage. Existing in a powerpoint deck somewhere on a hard-drive is not going get people aligned – what about posters, cardboard cut-outs, image collages?

5.     Defining and briefing your tone of voice

In a world where content is king and great content is the foundation stone of marketing it is pretty key to be talking in a way that your personas find relevant and engaging.

If you are speaking “laid back techy geek” style and your personas understand and relate to “optimistic business-speak” then there’s going to be a mismatch.

If you need to cover both these bases then finding a positive way to align without resorting to lowest common denominator becomes the challenge.

Professional copywriters prefer to be briefed on what tone of voice you are striving for and the good ones will be able to adapt their style to suit. 

Brand Fruition is a marketing consultancy that helps clients to create new services and strategies. If you’d like to know how we can help you develop your buyer personas get in touch.