- Caroline Powell
- On January 30, 2020
Let’s start with a question: When you first conceptualized your business, brand, and product line, did you start by identifying what you wanted to do or the audience you wanted to reach? Don’t worry, there’s no wrong answer!
Some entrepreneurs want to reach a certain demographic so they focus their talents on doing just that. Others are passionate about a particular product or type of product and they lead that way.
Every origin story is different, which is part of what makes them such compelling pieces of the brand puzzle. Regardless of how your business came to be, all businesses (should) have one thing in common: a clear understanding of the target buyer persona(s).
What Is a Buyer Persona?
A buyer persona is essentially your target market distilled into a representative model or multiple models depending on your brand or product line. You may also hear it referred to as a “customer persona” or “target buyer.” Once identified, a buyer persona will help direct many of your business decisions. The knowledge will guide you and help you answer important questions such as, “What are my persona’s problems?” “Is what I am making useful in solving those?” “Does my product align with my buyer persona?”
Why Do I Need a Buyer Persona?
You may have the greatest product in the world. In fact, you may make the cutest dog berets on the planet and you may sell them at an attractive price point. But none of that matters if you’re speaking to cat people or people who don’t have pets. Identifying a buyer persona allows you to be focused in your endeavors, to find the types of people most likely to buy berets for their dogs and to create a composite of those people’s characteristics so that you can 1) market your product to them in a way that speaks to them, 2) learn more about them and what other products they might like so you can develop those, and 3) save money by not advertising to the non-dog-beret-buying sector.
On Amazon, having a buyer persona is extremely important. The type of buyer you’re targeting shops and searches in different ways. Depending on your goal market, you may cater your advertising campaigns in different ways. You can use a tool like Ignite to create different ad groups based on your buyer personas. Additionally, you’ll want to write your listings (and your images, A+ Content, and everything else) for how your persona will be more likely to purchase. Remember that a value prop for a single product may vary between personas.
How Do I Define My Buyer Persona?
There is no detail too small. List everything that you can think of when you think of your ideal buyer. Does she go to Target every weekend for her grocery shopping instead of somewhere like Walmart? Does he prefer premade liquid protein shakes to those that are powdered and require mixing? When it comes to coffee shops, do they go to a big chain like Starbucks or prefer something a little more indie?
Grab a group of people from your company. Make sure they’re from various departments and that they represent an array of demographics. Start with three voices, but don’t have any more than five. Give everyone a sheet of paper and a five-minute time limit. Everyone should write down everything they can think of when it comes to the ideal customer. Once those five minutes are up, start putting things up on a whiteboard. If people have something similar on their sheets, take note of that. Once you’ve landed on your persona(s), share them with the company. Every employee should know the target buyer you are trying to serve through your efforts.
However, buyer personas can’t be determined by thoughts and feelings and personal experiences alone. You need data. If you’re just getting started, you can do some general research. Tap into the information you have in your account, whether it’s on Amazon or through your own website. Can you see geographic patterns or concentrations in rural or urban areas? Are you able to discern age ranges or income levels? If you’re doing general research, you can look at competitive brands and how they’re positioning things. Are they targeting millennials or Gen-Xers or both?
Please note that no real companies or personas were utilized (or harmed) in the creation of the following. This is a fictional company with fake personas, but it should make sense.
The Company: BUILT STRONG
BUILT STRONG is a fitness lifestyle brand offering a wide variety of products for those looking to live a healthy life. Everything from protein shake shakers to resistance bands to vegan meal kits. There are three different product lines within BUILT STRONG: BUILT STRONG for Her, BUILT STRONG for Him, and BUILT STRONG.
This is the core gender-neutral line of products. The goal of the BUILT STRONG product line is to help make healthy living accessible to all.
Persona 1: Strong Sarah
Strong Sarah is trying to build her best life. She knows that life is about balance, so it’s hot yoga and wine with the girls and that occasional decadent dessert splurge when she’s had a kick-ass week at work and at the gym. She’s diligent about cooking healthy, satisfying meals and always making enough to have leftovers to bring to work.
Fitness means a variety of things to Strong Sarah. She loves taking classes to be around people, but does her more serious, toning workouts on her own.
Persona 2: Strong Samuel
Strong Samuel is a lot like Strong Sarah. He got started early with living a healthier life and he wants to continue it into adulthood. He works hard at the office and tries to put just as much effort into maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Strong Samuel seeks balance by knocking back a few beers while watching the game, knowing he’ll have to do a few more crunches at the gym the next day.
Fitness means feeling good for Strong Samuel. He prefers dedicated workouts at a gym, but he never turns down a pick-up game at the park or a challenging hike.
BUILT STRONG for Her
Women tend to have different needs and desires when it comes to leading a healthier lifestyle. The goal with this line is to make it attractive and accessible for women of all ages to be healthy.
Persona 3: Millennial Melinda
Millennial Melinda is trying to stay fit in a world dominated by Beachbody, Kayla Itsines, and Les Mills. Fitness is available all over the internet and attention to health is somewhat expected of Melinda as a lifestyle value. Millennial Melinda spends most of the day away from home. Between work, happy hours, training her new puppy, refinishing a cool piece of vintage furniture, and time at the gym, Melinda is busy.
Millennial Melinda is somewhere between the ages of 24 and 38. She’s beginning to understand what it means to be an adult, navigating her career and potentially thinking of starting a family of her own. Millennial Melinda’s Instagram is full of gym selfies and brunch platters. She’s all about trying to find and live her best life.
BUILT STRONG for Him
Like the ladies, gentlemen have different concerns when it comes to their healthy lifestyle. The focus here is to equip our market with everything they need.
Persona 4: Fit Frank
Fit Frank played sports in high school. Older now, he enjoys reliving his glory days and watching as many sports on TV as possible. Fit Frank is somewhere between 40 and 65. He wants to be strong for a long time so he can participate in sports with his future grandkids. He’s worked his way up the corporate ladder and is ready for the same kind of fulfillment in his life at home.
Fit Frank is more likely to “take a break” and walk down the block for lunch, which isn’t always his healthiest option. Cardio is a deterrent for him (boring) and he prefers to build muscle if he’s going to invest time at the gym. Outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, and his over-40 baseball league are better workouts.
See? No detail is too small. This is just a starting point of who BUILT STRONG believes they’re serving. Diving into more data will help evolve these personas as well. You may determine that your Millennial Melinda is actually a stay-at-home mom or maybe Fit Frank is more likely to own his own business and work from home. Regardless, the more you know, the more you can find YOUR buyers and meet their needs.
Now, It’s Your Turn.
Hopefully this helps get you started! Truly dialing in your buyer personas can make all the difference in your business. You may find that your assumptions were off base and now that you’ve identified your true personas, you can market hard to them. You might also find that your assumptions were pretty right on. In that case, you’ve validated the assumption and can amplify your efforts or try to branch out into other audiences.
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