It’s Buyer Personas That Count – Not “What You Think”

Buyer personas - who needs to rent a car, for example?

It’s Buyer Personas That Count – Not “What You Think”

Buyer personas - who needs to rent a car, for example?

Once again, David Meerman Scott hits it out of the ballpark when he writes:

“…it is amazing to me that so many (marketers) spend their time like this: holed up in comfortable company conference rooms… and trading ideas about how to sell and market their products. You know, just off the top of their heads. The worst part? In these making-stuff-up sessions, everyone in the room works for the company, and therefore there is no representation of the voice of people who will actually buy the products and services. People go back and forth, saying, “Oh, I think we should do this” or “I think we should do that.”

This is why so much marketing fails. Because it’s not focused on the buyers: people who actually need or want or use products and services. Instead, it’s about what marketers think their customers or clients want.

It’s really important for a company to talk to its customers: to understand how they think and feel. And for marketers to do the same. But very few do this on a regular basis.

Gone is the heyday of a Market Research department, or the resident anthropologists, who studied where, when, why, and how people interacted with the company’s products and services. Studying and understanding what users did – and their frustrations – helped companies create better user experiences. And products.

Now, marketers are spit-balling and then wondering why their marketing doesn’t work. I can tell you why – it’s because:

  • They don’t understand the problems their users have
  • They don’t know or appreciate the emotions that prospects have around their needs
  • They don’t consider the way emotions drive sales
  • They don’t create marketing that appeals to these specific needs and emotions

It’s a fact that creating ad campaigns on social media, designing emails, even website design is most often done to make marketers happy – not based on the end user’s perception, usability, or needs.

This happens most often when individual marketers or agencies “take care of” separate platforms – there is a social media company that focuses on their platforms, there’s someone writing emails, there’s another agency doing creative. It’s no wonder the marketing isn’t working!

It all starts with the buyer persona. Who needs your product or service? And there’s typically more than one. David Meerman Scott offers a great example – with the individual who needs a rental car. There’s more than one buyer persona for someone needing to rent a car. Here are his examples:

  • Independent business travelers who make rental decisions themselves
  • Corporate travel department employees who make an approved vendor deal on behalf of hundreds or even thousands of company travelers
  • City dwellers who don’t own a car but who need wheels for the weekend
  • Somebody choosing a car for a family vacation
  • A commuter whose own car is in the repair shop for a few days but who still needs to get to work

These are 5 different possible personas. And, as you can see, they’re 5 very different people with very different reasons to rent a car. What makes it even more complicated is that:

  • This means you need 5 different types of communications, to appeal to each one of these people
  • You need to find each of these people in the right channel – where they’ll be searching for a rental car
  • Your messaging needs to be consistent – to each persona
  • You need to take them all the way down the buyer’s journey funnel, from just finding out about your rental car company to learning more and then deciding to rent from you (vs. your competition).

See? When you’re doing a good job marketing, it’s complicated as you create these personas and then map out their journey through marketing messages and channels.

Now it’s easy to see why most marketing doesn’t work. Because many marketers aren’t starting at the beginning – with the buyer personas – and then working from there. It’s a lot of work! And logical. And creative. (And that’s what I love about it!)

If you’re not sure who your buyer personas are – or you don’t think that you’re reaching them effectively, please contact me and let’s talk. I’m here to help!

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