Misjudging your audience can see a venture go spectacularly wrong – just ask the BBC.
Its decision to sign-up Chris Evans (eesh) as the presenter of Top Gear has been described as a “disaster” - and it’s not hard to see why. The latest episode attracted less than two million viewers, lower than any episode in the Jeremy Clarkson era.
According to The Sun (large bucket of salt required here), in the end, Evans was left pleading with the crowd during filming: “If you find things vaguely funny or you think they were supposed to be funny please laugh.” Ouch.
But, Evans never has been that funny (soz Chris, we’re just trying to illustrate a point about buyer personas here). Or, he's not the right kind of funny for the Top Gear audience - and the producers really should have decided he wasn’t right for the job on that basis.
They might claim that they wanted to take the show in a new direction, but ultimately they showed a lack of understanding about what their audience wants.
Enough of the analogies, let’s get all advisory
Now we can get into the detail of why buyer personas are so important to every business, whether you’re B2C or B2B.
First things first, though, it’s worth just making sure we’re all just reading off the same page on what a buyer persona is. You can have a read of our blog post on this very topic if you fancy, but as a general rule we define it as fictional, generalised representations of your ideal customers.
Buyer personas are the product of the interviews you conduct with your customers, the data gleaned from marketing campaigns etc., the information picked up during sign-ups, and the impression your sales team get about your customers from their one-on-one conversations.
The gaps in your buyer personas are filled in with a bit of good old calculated guesswork. You’re not going to be able to find out everything about your ideal customers – what they have for breakfast etc. – from what they have told you. Unless you’re a breakfast café; then you might have to ask them what they like for breakfast…
Ahem, anyway, we firmly believe that unless you’re creating buyer personas, you run the risk of upsetting your audience (hi again, Top Gear).
Now, you might have the generalised data of who your audience is - i.e 52% female, generally earning around 30k, mostly have brown hair. That kind of thing. But do you really, really know them?
We’re talking background, values, demeanour, annual salary – the things that give your ideal customers discernible features, as opposed to just this:
Generic person is generic.
Ultimately, that’s the aim of building buyer personas: giving your ideal customer a face, a story, a name even! Having this information, documented for all to see, serves as a constant reminder of your ideal customer’s background, needs and challenges.
We'll be straight with you, personas require you to put in the research work to create the relevant personas. As we touched upon earlier, you’ll need to conduct regular surveys with your audience, split-test different options on your website to see what hits the spot with visitors, and constantly monitor your analytics to see what content gets the most shares, the most visits, and the most subscribers. Or if you can't do that to start with, you'll at least have to use your imagination.
Let’s show you how by putting it into practice. It’s Monday morning, and you know you should create a piece of content that is current, addresses the needs of your customers, and will help convince readers/viewers that your business is trustworthy and worth listening to.
However, it’s Monday morning, like we say, and you’re not feeling all that inspired. You try to envisage how your audience is feeling this morning, but all you can think about is that next cup of coffee.
Then you remember that you don’t need to try and project an image of your ideal customer: their face is in a picture frame on your desk (not weird, at all), and next to it is your handy buyer persona template listing their likes, dislikes, goals, challenges, and more. The coffee is no longer a consideration – you’re too busy formulating another great piece of content. Clever you!
Now, that’s what we call REALLY knowing your audience. Download our template now to get started.