Identifying & Targeting Your Customers or Creating Buyer Personas

“I sell X … My customers buy X … X is a product (or service) that remains constant and doesn’t change … Therefore, my customers have remained constant and are all the same … aren’t they?”


Difference Matters

It is a very easy, but generally dangerous thing, to lump people together and say that they are all the same.

We see it happen in numerous situations, and it never works out well.

I recently had a conversation with an MD of a medium sized business, who was of the opinion that, as his business has one service it is offering, everyone who buys that service has the same problem to solve – the same pain points and the same fundamental issues, that his solution provides the answer to.

The reality is, that this is a nonsense – and if we apply some common sense, we know it is.

Our recent blog on different uses of products highlights that what we sell, doesn’t always get used in the same way. And the pain factors which induce one customer to buy can be very different for the next customer who purchases from us.

So, if we want to build an accurate view of our customers, it’s vital not to fall into the trap of thinking that they are all the same, and that we can target them in the same way.

Which means that we can’t send out a blanket message to everyone in our database and expecting it to have consistent results.


Difference is Good

Creating a more focussed understanding of your customer usually means realising that they are different.

But this is no bad thing.

If you can differentiate between customers, you can tailor your sales messages to very specific target audiences. In this way, you spend less time wasting energy on unqualified leads, and more time targeting the people who actually need what you are selling.

This process of understanding your customers and working through the differentials is called building a Buyer Persona.

Building Buyer Personas isn’t just useful for marketing, it can help all the members of your organisation relate to your customers as real human beings, rather than lumping them together in one amorphous blob.


Creating Your First Buyer Persona

Creating Buyer Personas is about asking the right questions of existing customers and prospects, then presenting that information in a way that you and your company can get to know that persona.

The process for creating the cardboard cut-outs of your best customers involves research.

This can be done through talking to your sales and customers facing staff, and through surveys and interviews with your target audience. Your research should be with a mix of current customers, prospects and anyone outside your database who looks like your target audience.

For a more in-depth look at how to build a picture of your customers see out blog on finding your Customer’s Pain Points.

You can also download our guide to Understanding Your Customers Buying Process and our guide to Creating Buyer Personas.


How many should you have?

It’s important to have more than one buyer persona in place. Most businesses find that, once they start the process of building buyer personas, they have at least two, sometimes many more. Larger companies who selling in a more complex environment can have upwards of twenty or more.

If this is your first attempt at building a Buyer Persona, start small and identify one or two different types of customer to begin with. Once you have those in place, and are actively targeting them with different content and testing the results, you can start to differentiate further and put more personas in place.


The Negative Persona

If a Buyer Persona is a cardboard cut out of your ideal customer, then a Negative Persona is the cardboard cut out of exactly who you don’t want to do business with.

Why create these?

Simply put, if have a clear idea of who really isn’t going to buy from you, you can remove anyone who looks like this from your database file.

This means you spend less of your valuable time and resources on the time wasters and persistent enquirers, and more on active, sales-ready leads.

As a simple exercise in cutting out the chaff, creating negative personas can be a pleasantly satisfying.


Buyer Personas for your Marketing

How do you use your buyer personas when you have created them?

On a basic level they can help you create the right content and messages to appeal to your target audience.

If you understand how your customers differ, you can personalise the messages you send them, for example, instead of sending out the same email to everyone on your database, no matter who they are, you can double or triple the effectiveness having a different message for each segment of your audience, tailoring your approach according to what you know about the personas and what might work the best to draw them along the sales funnel.

If you can combine this messaging system with your knowledge of the customers buying process, you can create highly targeted content that will drive prospective customers towards sales readiness in an organised and focussed manner.

For more information, download our free guide – Understanding and Identifying your Target Customers – this will help you understand more clearly the process of how to differentiate your customers and how to build accurate buyer personas.