What Is a Buyer Persona?
The term is thrown around like confetti, yet you’d be surprised to know how few people really understand what it means. In a nutshell, a buyer persona is a research-based profile that describes a target customer. Whether you’re trying to reach a target audience or just working to build your brand, you’re likely to be dealing with multiple buyer personas. The reason for this is simple: No matter who your customers are, they’re not all the same! And it’s their uniqueness that you need to cater to in an experiential market.
Gone are the days when marketing campaigns were based on only demographic information, such as age, gender, and geographical location. Today’s marketers understand that personalization requires much more detailed, personal information. For example, what is your target customer’s daily life like? What challenges do they typically face, and how do those challenges impact their buyer behaviors? Knowing who your customers are gives you more information about these behaviors. Does your target audience typically have a family that factors into their decision-making? Are they millennial-aged, which means they tend to value meaningful experiences over material possessions? These are some examples of target audiences, what is most important to them, and how they make decisions.
A common mistake brands make: They get too wrapped up in themselves and what they have to offer, and spend too little time discerning what their target audience needs. Building trust and long-term relationships, which are the lifeblood of a successful brand, requires personalization. It requires the empathy and presence of mind to find out what matters most to different audiences- and give it to them.
Obviously, different content marketing will resonate with different audiences. Reaching everyone and personalizing content can be a precarious balance to strike. If you’re targeting multiple buyer personas, you may want to start by identifying the pain points of each. One way to do this is to create content that resonates with multiple personas. Another strategy is to send separate content to different audiences, which may be appropriate at certain times. For example, let’s explore generational marketing.
Mastering Generational Marketing
While many brands target mainly customers from a specific generation, such as millennials, many need to reach more than one age group. How can this be done? Well, the first step is finding out what’s important to each group. Take millennials: They are generally focused on and adept at using technology, so connecting with them on social media is vital. Navigating social media profiles and apps is second nature to them, whereas some Gen Xers and older members of society are still learning to integrate technology into their daily lives.
Now look closely at the content that millennials consume. Millennials and Gen Z members are more likely than other groups to care about pop culture, including contemporary movies, TV, and music. While Gen Xers’ technology use has also evolved significantly over the last decade, their values and interests may be more conservative.
Not surprisingly, some key millennial consumer traits are emphasized even more in Gen Zers. As technology rapidly becomes more advanced and culture more experiential, the youngest consumer’s expect to be catered to. Personalized experiences that fulfill their individual needs and provide a unique experience are key. Experiences almost always equate to more value than material possessions.
There is a mixed consensus on pricing; some marketing experts say not to be concerned about having the lowest price because Gen Zers care primarily about quality. Others warn that too-high prices are a roadblock because the cost of living has gone up so significantly, especially for millennials who are trying to be independent in a world that is more expensive than ever. While many members of Gen Z are either in college or still living under their parents’ roofs, they are already inheriting the high costs of living faced by millennials. Our advice: When marketing to millennials in particular, set prices low and deliver consistent value. Millennials are also infamous impulse buyers. Offering complimentary/additional items for purchase at the checkout point can take a cheap sale a long way.
Attention span is another issue to consider. Gen Xers typically have a higher attention span than millennials and Gen Zers. So if you’re marketing to the younger generations, keep ads short and sweet. Of course, “short and sweet” is a good general rule in a world where information overload affects nearly everyone on a daily basis. But generally speaking, temporarily losing the attention span of younger people usually results in the permanent loss of a customer. Remember, these consumers are both inundated with information and living in a world where technology caters to their every whim within seconds. Therefore, their attention span is lower and their expectation of instant gratification is- you guessed it- much higher than previous generations.
It’s also important to be everywhere at the same time. (No pressure or anything). What we mean is this: Technology allows millennials and Gen Zers to virtually be in more places than one throughout the day. It’s not uncommon to observe a teenager on their laptop while playing on their phone and watching TV all at once. This not-so-rare sighting should clue you into why multi-platform exposure is vital to marketing to this generation.
Okay, let’s take the spotlight off of Gen Zers and millennials for a moment. Obviously, strategy depends on who your target audience is. But in most cases, it would be a mistake to overlook Gen Xers as an important audience. That’s because Gen Xers are generally at the peak of their earning and spending years. (The same can definitely not be said of millennials or their techie predecessors). Although most members of Gen X use smartphones and social media, they weren’t born into the age of the internet. They may have Facebook, but they don’t spend all of their time there, and they still place the most value on real time interactions. Also, they’re less likely to “believe everything they see online”; on the contrary, they’re likely to be discerning of content they consume on the internet. So back up your claims with hard facts, viable research, and testimonials.
Building a Buyer Persona With Psychographics
Consumer personas are nuanced and intricate. Although generational marketing is a key strategy that many marketers overlook, demographics only paint half of the picture. These basic stats don’t provide insight into buyer motivation, which includes pain points. What problems does your product need to solve to meet the needs of your target audience? If you are targeting more than one buyer persona, which many marketers are, how can you diversify your efforts? Catering personally to multiple audiences can be a challenge. But armed with the right demographic and psychographic information, you can create detailed profiles that tell you much more about who your consumers really are. Understanding who they are not only helps you give them what they want and need, but also forges a personal connection. And obviously, cultivating relationships and loyalty is key in this increasingly experiential culture.
Psychographic data is information about a person’s feelings, values, and interests. Psychographic information may also be used to drive the product sales, generate leads, or even promote a cause. It can also be used to determine which influencers have the most interaction with a brand’s target audience. Influencer marketing is a powerful tool in today’s market, so this is a worthwhile use of psychographics.
Speaking of social media, psychographic data can also be used to create more emotionally compelling ads. If you know something about your consumers’ feelings and what they care about, you can create more effective ads. Of course, if you’re marketing to multiple buyer personas, targeting different ads appropriately is key. Take generational marketing, for an easy example. While Gen Zers are more likely to be “everywhere at the same time”, consuming multiple forms of media on a regular basis, Gen Xers tend to favor video content. And they’re usually not surfing the internet, checking their social media, and watching while viewing their favorite YouTube videos. That’s demographic information, but you get the main idea.
Psychographics is so important because people with identical demographic information can be vastly different. For example, two women of the same age, income level, and marital and socioeconomic status may differ greatly in personality. Their interests and values may also be very different from one another. Interests, personality, and attitudes heavily influence buyer behavior. Using only demographic information only allows for a certain level of personalization, and thus marketing efforts can feel dull and generic. In other words, if your marketing strategy is solely based on demographics, it isn’t making the personal connection you need.
How Should You Collect Psychographic Information?
We thought you’d never ask. Collecting psychographic data sounds great in theory, but how does one actually go about doing it? Well, according to OptiMonk, a conversion optimization company that specializes in turning traffic into sales, you need the right tool for this job. Integrating surveys, questionnaires, and live polling into your events is one way to obtain this kind of information. We recommend veering away from questions with “yes or no” answers”. Instead of piling on the multiple choice inquiries, try asking a few well-placed, open-ended questions. Decide on two-three questions that yield information about their buyer motivations, including their pain points and desires. This way, you won’t take up too much of your customers’ time, and you’ll learn what you need to know to better meet their needs in the future.
You may be surprised to know that you can learn a lot from your existing website analytics. If you can’t afford to pay for research provided by third party companies (which can be helpful but expensive), turn to your own data. Ask yourself:
Who are the majority of your visitors? Where is your traffic coming from?
What are visitors clicking on, and what content do they spend the most time interacting with?
Where do your visitors go directly after visiting your website?
Yes, collecting this kind of information takes time and effort. But it can provide a lot of valuable information about what strategies yield better conversion than others, informing your focus in the future.
The Role of Social Media
Of course, we can’t talk about psychographic data without talking about social media. Although it’s a little harder to quantify than other data, social media behavior potentially yields the most personal information. Considering the fact that personal, long-lasting customer relationships are integral to experiential marketing, that’s important.
You’ll have to look closely. For example:
Are their ethical or political beliefs relevant? Do they heavily inform their buyer behaviors when purchasing products or services similar to yours?
How do your target customers see themselves (or want to see themselves)? What values do they hold, and who do they aspire to be?
What brands are they loyal to? What does their brand loyalty say about their beliefs and attitudes, if anything?