Buyer Personas: Do you really need them?

There’s a lot of buzz about buyer personas. Google the term and you get about 860,000 results, including definitions, blog posts, tutorials, offers, templates – even an institute dedicated to the topic. But is it all really necessary?

credit: HubSpot

HubSpot defines a buyer persona as “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.”

That pretty much sums it up. A persona is a collection of all the information you’ve got about a specific target pulled together into one nicely packaged, perfectly pretend prospect. You come up with a persona by asking yourself and your team questions about the target. The answers to these questions come together in a document that will help focus your team on a well-defined ideal prospect.

But do you really need it? I mean, getting your team to answer questions about, well, anything can be tricky. Time is short. Resources are scarce. Marketing and sales are under immense pressure to deliver leads and close sales. Who has time to make up stories about your target market?

Besides, don’t you know them well enough already?

In short, no.

Marketing to a target without a persona because you “know them well enough” is like deciding to build a house without a blueprint because you know how to use a hammer and nails.

When you really dive into building a buyer persona, you get to know a lot more about your target than basic demographic data. You think through their motivations, challenges, disappointments, frustrations and fears. You hypothesize their personal interests, likely hobbies, career aspirations, and glimpses into their life outside the office.

Why? Because the better you understand your audience, the better you can appeal to them. Think about it, is it easier for you to pitch an idea to your best friend or to a complete stranger?

Personas are important. Very important. They’re worth the time and effort because they will help you deliver campaigns that deliver results. When you understand your audience like you understand your best friend, you can really get creative about how you market to them. You will be able to find the words, offers and hooks that personalize your messaging. Your audience will begin to feel like you have a friendly relationship, not a business arrangement. They will begin to believe that you actually understand them and have their best interests in mind. They work.

Interested in getting started? Here’s a great article from HubSpot about a few rookie mistakes to avoid when building a buyer persona.

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