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Why your marketing needs buyer personas

February 26, 2020 -  By
Photo: Weekend Images Inc./E+/Getty Images

Photo: Weekend Images Inc./E+/Getty Images

When I talk to people about buyer personas, they dismiss them as being equivalent to ideal customer profiles.

This is a problem because there is an important distinction.

  • One of them describes the horse that steps up to the water trough.
  • The other tells you whether or not he or she is likely to take a drink.

Here are my definitions for each.

Ideal customer profiles — Demographics (statistical data)
Buyer personas — Predictive behaviors

How many times have you encountered ideal customers who don’t buy? They acknowledge your solutions will work but fail to take action. We also encounter buyers that do not fit the ideal profile and become good customers anyway. That’s what makes this a slippery slope.

Every business and its markets are unique. However, this is a data-driven world, and it makes sense to build filters that address demographics and predictive behaviors.

According to the Buyer Persona Institute, there are five “Rings of Buying Insight” that people think about as they go through their buying experience.

The five rings of buying insight

Priority Objective:

This is the most compelling reason why your buyer decides to invest in your solution. You want to develop strategies that trigger these actions.

Success Factors:

These are the results your buyer persona expects to achieve from a solution like yours and the risks involved with achieving it.

Perceived Barriers:

Every industry has its perceived barriers. Removing them often involves pulling back the curtain to share honest and relevant stories that resonate with buyers.

Buyer’s Journey:

Buyers seldom make decisions in isolation. Family, friends and others influence their decisions. Understanding these influences enables a business to manage them.

Decision Criteria:

What motivates buyers can be a complex process. It can be almost entirely based on emotion. Decision criteria often surprise companies that are in love with their products and services.

How buyer personas enhance your sales and marketing

You may be wondering how you create buyer personas.  Surveys do not work. You have to interview existing customers in person to get meaningful data. If you offer a range of services, you will most likely have more than one buyer persona.

Probably the most revealing buying insight is the priority objective.

There are many reasons why buyers choose to invest in your solutions. You’ll want to note all of them but work hard at uncovering the most compelling one.

There is always one priority objective that stands above the rest. When you discover it, the success factors for achieving it will be readily identified.

Here are a few priority objectives for a design-build business. Maybe they will spark ideas for yours.

  • A showplace. One that lights up the neighborhood and delights visitors.
  • Understated elegance. More about tasteful functionality than showing off.
  • Resale value. We’re flexible and want to someday recover our investment and make a profit.
  • Entertainment. A place for families and children to interact and play together.
  • Quiet retreat. This is for our family and the people closest to us.

These objectives have nothing to do with the home or the property it sits on. They are windows into the lifestyle that is important to these buyers.

One of the keys to the priority objective is getting everyone together on the same path without cluttering the conversation with landscaping elements. That comes later.

Understanding the typical priority objectives informs your sales and marketing. The same is true of perceived barriers. Speaking to them signals how well you understand your customers and the systems you have in place for serving them.

Here are a handful of perceived barriers that exist in this industry and many others.

— Lack of trust
— Confusing pricing
— Incomplete information
— Unreliable timelines
— Too many choices
— Lack of control
— Vague warranties
— Inconsistent communication

Companies that address these barriers with their marketing and sales conversations can knock them down. If you do that, you’ll greatly increase your odds of being the one that gets them to take a drink!

Jeff Korhan

About the Author:

Jeff Korhan is the author of Built-In Social, founder of Landscape Digital Institute, and a Duct Tape Marketing Certified consultant. Jeff works with service companies that want to drive growth and enhance their brand experience with digital platforms. Learn more at www.landscapedigitalinstitute.com

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