In our latest MEG meet-up, we discussed buyer and user personas, and what potential they might have to help us market ourselves.
With modern consumers and service users increasingly sophisticated in their decision-making, businesses must work harder to understand the motivations of their target audiences.
What is a Buyer Persona?
The buyer or user persona is a fictional character, based on solid research, who embodies a specific user type for your product or service.
Behind this is the idea that it will better help you understand the goals and motivations of your ideal customer.
It also helps in recognising the different needs your customers can have, and that they are not simply a broad demographic you can market and sell to.
Personas provide meaningful archetypes, which enable you to ask the right questions for assessing the design, creation and marketing of your product or service.
Archetype vs Stereotype
If the archetype is the ideal of something, then the stereotype is the oversimplification of this ideal.
It happens a lot in politics, where the combined demographic and psychographic profile of an economic group with a voting intention gets watered down to a glib phrase such as Workington man, as the typical middle England voter.
Stereotypes are formulaic and conform to a set image, and are therefore an inaccurate basis for targeting customers.
A detailed, forensic analysis of your target market should enable you to go beyond surface assumptions.
Think about things like the customer’s genuine voice. What insight can message boards and online forums give you?
It is a process of building up knowledge to give you a depth of understanding.
The Progression of Market Research
Discovering more about your target market is a filtering process, which runs from broad to specific knowledge about them.
At one end of the scale are geographic and demographic factors.
From these, you progress to psychographic data, finally arriving at the archetypical persona.
Demographics and Psychographics
Segmenting audiences into demographics is not a guarantee of being able to engage with them effectively.
Psychographics delve deeper into the motivations of prospective buyers, so while demographics can provide some idea of who they are, psychographics look at why they might buy from you.
This exploration of motivation helps to flesh out a more generalised picture of a segmented target market.
It is like sketching in the details and, in so doing, helping to shape a buyer persona.
Fleshing Out the Archetype
You discover more about your prospective customers if you can empathise with them.
Taking this to its logical degree, in a marketing context, it becomes pathological empathy.
In other words, it is a systematic process, whereby you endeavour to learn all you can about your customers by listening to them.
What drives their decisions emotionally? Rather than lecturing them about how your products or services work, discover what they are looking for in terms of benefits.
These benefits are not simply the immediate end-result of their purchasing decision.
They can be more indirect, but still powerful.
For example, status is a huge driver in people’s buying decisions, and this applies as much to B2B as B2C.
People will often make decisions based on how they think they will fit in with the image of themselves that they wish to project to the outside world.
What we know about our own businesses is only useful, practical knowledge if we also know enough about the people we want to buy from us.
What’s Your Objective?
The main benefit of developing personas is therefore to sell to people better.
For many brands providing B2B services, this requires a two-tier approach:
- Understanding their clients’ needs, and
- The needs of the clients’ own customers.
More About MEG
MEG is Manchester Enterprise Group. We meet fortnightly for breakfast networking and a roundtable discussion at Colony, Piccadilly in central Manchester.
It’s like an informal boardroom for business owners and professionals.