Customer personas need to go a little deeper than a generic customer. Not all customers are equal, get specific. Particularly get specific with you persona about how your customer buys. What characteristics or values do they have that brings then to you.
The use of personas is fairly commonplace today. Most marketing and sales teams have worked out the general representations of the potential types of buyers their business is trying to attract. However, just about all personas I have seen do not have the one characteristic that is about why the customer buys.
As a general definition we can say that personas are a fairly generalised representation of your typical customer. They are fictional but are often based on a customer you know, and the better ones are founded on customer research, including interviews and/or surveys. Some businesses have just a handful of personas, and one business I know has 19. Newscorp lists 24 personas of their “audience” on their website – and if you are an advertiser, they can show exactly how to reach your particular customer.
For B2B, the persona will relate to the role they have, some typical information about who the person might be, some demographics, the nature they might have, what their typical goals and challenges are.
So, for example, if your business offers CRM solutions to small-to-medium sized businesses, your persona might define the typical demographic of a business owner, or even the sales manager. Their challenges might be increasing sales, getting salespeople to make enough calls, conversion rates. Their goals then are to increase sales, get more customers and such like – knowing this means your CRM offering is targeted to meet those needs.
Having a persona then, in theory, allows you to tailor your messages for that particular customer, their needs their problems. It allows marketers to develop relevant content and it allows sales people to better understand their customers.
All sounds good and seems to be a sensible approach. However, to me personas seem to satisfy the logical parts of our brains. It seems very logical to have analysed the typical customer and define who they are, their needs and goals.
But here’s the rub – customers do not buy logically, they buy emotionally.
The decision to buy is always emotional, then we seek rationale to justify the decision.
Focus in on how your customer buys
So the persona will help us identify a particular profile of customer that meets some basic criteria, but that is not why they will buy from you. It’s all about the emotions.
Let’s say you are a website designer, and you truly make beautiful websites. You persona might be small business owners that either want to have a web presence, or want to improve their web presence. Okay, does that narrow it down enough…nope.
Okay, so what you are looking for then is small business owners who are disappointed with the performance (various criteria) of their website. And, you are also looking for small business owners who are stressed at the complexity of getting their own website up. These emotions, stressed and disappointed are far more likely to drive a change – a decision to buy – especially when you provide a pathway from those feelings.
Likewise when I talk with sales managers about the performance of their team, it is only the frustrated ones that are interested in my ideas and suggestions. The complacent or satisfied sales manager has very little desire to change.
We all realise the value of a positive customer experience. If our service, culture or processes irritate the customer, then we know the customer will look for alternatives. But if we asked them why they left we would hear logical reasons. Such as, “I had to wait too long” or “your process was too confusing”. But it was the emotion of irritation that triggered the reason to leave. Which is why we need to design and implement customer experiences that produce emotions that lead to advocacy.
The one thing you need to add is the emotion that triggers the interest or attention from your ideal customer. Once, you know the emotion you are looking for it will be easy to recognise. You can even develop questions that prompts the customer to share their emotions.
Not using personas..?
This article at Andrew Reise can be useful to get started.. But remember to add in the emotions your customers will be experiencing to make the about a real person.
Better still have a look at the Profit By Design page.
On that page you can learn more about the book – but also download all the templates you need for free. The key templates for making “personas” more real are the Customer Value Map Template and the Customer Groups templates.
Be sure to upgrade your sales – or customer engagement practice so that it is relevant for this age. The New Manifesto for Sales will help you getting your head around that changes required.
Remember our customers have really changed over the last 10 to 15 years, check out this blog post to understand the the imperatives for leaders and managers.