Buyer Persona

The year was 1996.

The last batch of millennials were being born, Bill Pullman was gunning down aliens and giving speeches about Independence Day and McDonalds really thought they could go all fancy with the burger.

Described as the “The Burger with the Grown-up Taste”, The Arch Deluxe was designed to get adults to the big D - not for a quick bite but for the sophisticated taste.

There was only one problem.

Literally no one wanted to go to McDonalds for the sophisticated taste.

The Arch Deluxe has gone down in history as one of the biggest product flops of all time. Something that really makes you think - “Who was asking for this?” People love McDonalds for the convenience, the reasonable prices, the speed - so why would anyone think that amore expensive burger, targeted at a market that really didn’t care, succeed?

Goes to show what a lack of proper burger persona will do.

Sorry, I meant buyer persona.

So what is a buyer persona? Basically, it’s an imaginary person who represents your customer, that you can use to answer fairly important questions like “would this person actually pay for what we want to sell?”

There’s a lot that goes into creating a buyer persona, way beyond the scope of this article (although this is a great place to start), but here are some important tips.

  1. Companies should have multiple personas, of course, because literally no company has only one type of buyer. 
  2. Start with your existing customers. Make each one a persona.
  3. Also talk to your colleagues. Have each of them make a persona on their own. Crowdsource that research!
  4. Make the personas as detailed as possible. Sure “35-40 yr old Marketing VP of a tech startup with around 10 years of experience” is a decent jumping off point, but  “35-40 yr old Marketing VP of a tech startup with around 10 years of experience and 2 kids who loves kayaking on the weekends and worries about the environment.” is a whole lot more useful.

While personas are primarily used to plan marketing campaigns, they are useful for sales teams as well! When sales folks intimately understand who they are selling to, it becomes easier for them to speak the customers’ language, understand their pain points, and create empathy.

The scary thing about buyer personas is how easy it is to ignore them. You can plan a campaign without creating or consulting a single buyer persona. It’s not impossible - in fact, it makes the process easier. You can fall into the trap of thinking that your own perspective is the objective truth, and anything that appeals to you will appeal to your audience.

And in the end, you might be left holding, not a delicious burger, but rather a handful of wilted lettuce, spoiled mustard, and a sad, beefy monument to hubris.

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