The Buyer Persona: Marketing to Everyone is Marketing to No One
I was recently invited to a local high school to give advice and share my knowledge of entrepreneurship to a handful of classes. These students were working on their own entrepreneurial ventures and were gearing up to give business pitches the following week. Over the last few years I've visited quite a few classrooms like this. I've also participated in and helped to organize a couple StartUp Weekends; and I've coordinated a provincial pitch competition with entrepreneurial teams. Any time I meet with a new team planning on starting their first business I always ask a few staple questions:
- What problem are you trying to solve?
- How do you plan on making money?
- Who is your customer?
That last question. It’s the one that seems to have the same answer time and time again: "Everyone".
What’s the problem with "everyone"?
In the words of Seth Godin “Everyone is not your customer”. At Marrow, we advocate for Purpose-Driven Marketing which is the creation of a relationship with your audience by sharing your "why". Your "why" won't, and shouldn't, apply to everyone. If it does, you might be diluting who you are and preventing your audience from creating a connection with your product or service. A marketing strategy that can apply to everyone won’t be interesting, engaging or valuable enough to apply to anyone.
So what should you do instead?
Get deeper. Think harder about who your ideal customer actually is. Who are you creating this service or product for? What is it helping with? Who is MOST likely to use it? The more you know about your customer or buyer, the more you’ll be able to provide content and value specifically to them. Creating a Buyer Persona for one or two ideal customers will set you up in the right direction.
The Buyer Persona
A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. Typically well known in marketing or sales, a customer/buyer/product/service persona has an impact on almost every aspect of your business and will allow you to tailor content to the specific needs, concerns and behaviours of different buyers. These personas should be based both in market research and insight from your actual customer base.
There are quite a few awesome free resources out there to help you in creating a buyer persona and we’ve added another to the list ;) Our downloadable template is one that Natalie and I put together when we were creating MARROW so that we could better understand the customer we’d be connecting to. We ended up writing 4 different buyer personas (Susan, Steve, Sam and Shannon) that gave us insight into who would be likely to use our service and how we can provide more value to them. Our personas have helped us in our content creation by targeting specific buyer personas at different times.
I think it’s important to note though that your buyer persona can change, so don’t be afraid to update it. Often times, especially when starting out, your original idea will pivot and change before you find something that sticks. For this reason your persona is likely to also grow, shift and change as the business does. Measure, adjust, repeat!