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What are the benefits of buyer personas?

Most businesses start with a brilliant flash of inspiration. You spot a gap in the market, think of a different way to do things and have a unique proposition.

When it comes down to it, all businesses are solving a problem – even if it’s a problem people didn’t realise they had! As we all know though, having a fabulous solution is not enough to deliver a thriving business. If only it were that simple.

Buyer personas are a helpful tool to navigate the launch and continued success of a product or service. They focus your mind on who you are serving and can guide your strategy and decision-making.

Not sure what a buyer persona really is? Check out my blog on using buyer personas to attract your ideal customers to find out more.

Let’s jump into 4 key benefits of buyer personas for your business. Spoiler alert! They’re not just about marketing.

  1. Avoid mediocrity
  2. Get some objectivity
  3. Clear prioritisation
  4. Helping you to navigate your evolving customer

Avoid mediocrity

Getting those all-important sales can become an obsession for any business owner. It can be hard to hold your nerve and you think ‘I’m happy for just anyone to buy from us’ and you ask yourself ‘Should we drop the prices?’ The clear vision you had of the problem you solve and who you solve it for starts to become a bit blurred and you try to appeal to everyone and anyone to get the sale.

The result? A big fat tumbleweed.

The mistake people make who are trying to market a product, service or themselves is to make average stuff for average people in a misguided attempt to please everybody.” Seth Godin

A clear buyer persona, on the other hand, helps you to remain focussed on who you are serving, how to engage them and the best way to communicate. A buyer persona gives you the knowledge and confidence in your decisions and helps you to remain relevant and resonate with your target market. 

Get some objectivity

It’s no surprise that the majority of people become so close to their own business and solution, that they lose some objectivity. 

Come on, admit it. 

You know you should stay close to the people on the ground and your customers, but somehow it’s the thing that gives first. It’s not that you don’t value these discussions, but other things just come up and before you know it, another quarter has gone by. Oops.

It’s also likely that these types of conversations with your customers don’t get measured, it’s hard to do. And we know, what gets measured gets done. 

I still do a shift behind the bar each month and talk to customers…it’s the best night of the month. The further away the decision-makers in a business get from the action, the more the rot sets in.”  David McDowall, BrewDog CEO*.

Buyer personas are a way to ensure you are always considering your customer. Think of it as a version of Jeff Bezos infamous empty boardroom chair. By consistently using and referring to your persona(s), it will become second nature to scrutinise your decisions with a customer lens. 

Clear prioritisation

This Way sign on a fence with arrow pointing right

Typically you won’t be short of ideas to improve or enhance your offering. What tends to be far more challenging is to decide what to do first.

Prioritisation gets way easier when you know what will make the biggest difference to your customers; what will attract new customers, as well as keep the existing ones happy. Plus, what people are willing to pay for. 

Buyer and user personas aren’t just about getting people through the door, they can feed into every area of your business, putting everyone on the same page and pulling in the same direction. You’ll all work towards what’s best for your customers and the business, rather than people or departments prioritising their own agendas. 

Helping you to navigate your evolving customer

Particularly in the tech world, but it really applies to most businesses, your initial customers, those early adopters, will feel different to your customer base in the long-term.  Although those first customers may stay with you over the years and be some of your biggest fans, they typically won’t be able to sustain and grow your business over time.

Everett Rogers introduced us to the adopter categories in his book ‘Diffusion of Innovations’, which poses some interesting questions when it comes to building your buyer personas.

It’s important to recognise and identify the innovators and early adopters amongst your target market, as they are likely to accept some bumps in the road and are happy with the value exchange your minimum viable product (MVP) provides. Basically, some cool stuff which might not be perfect or fully formed yet. 

Product roadmap including MVP on a whiteboard

However, your ‘mainstream’ customers will see you MVP as a bit risky. The excitement of a new solution and the latest tech is not enticement enough for this group. They want something tried and tested. 

The exact same messaging isn’t likely to work across the adopter categories. They might have the same overall problem to solve, but have different priorities. What entices your first 20 customers, needs more evidence and social proof to capture the imagination of the next 100.

Have you overlaid your personas onto the innovation adoption lifecycle?

Your customer’s expectations also change over time.

They will be influenced by the experiences they have elsewhere, not just in your sector, and certainly outside of your control. The introduction of new technology may shift their viewpoint or even entirely flip their problems on their head. A global pandemic might sweep across the world and change our day to day lives beyond recognition – apparently, that happens now. 

Man walking down the street wearing a face mask, looking at mobile phone

The truth is, it’s impossible to predict the future, but we can evolve with it. Please don’t be another company that produces personas and relegates them to a dropbox wasteland. Refer to them, use them, update them, make them part of your businesses culture.

If you don’t know where to start researching your buyer personas, here are some handy hints, even if you don’t have any customers yet!

Need more help? My persona workshop can guide you through the process.

Tell me more

 

 *(source: https://www.cga.co.uk/2019/03/15/david-mcdowall-on-brewdog-and-the-rise-of-craft-beer/)


If your really keen, here’s some further reading to get stuck into.

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries 

Diffusion of innovation, 5th Edition, by Everett Rogers

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