In the world of sales and marketing, personas are invaluable tools. Well-made personas can help you to understand your targets' plans, challenges, behaviors and goals. They can help you to recognize that different people have different needs and expectations, and they can also help you to identify with the audience you are trying to have a conversation with. But many marketing and sales pros bypass the creation and usage of personas -- many times simply because they don't have a good idea of where to begin.
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What Are Buyer Personas?
Buyer personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They help you understand your customers (and prospective customers) better, and make it easier for you to tailor content to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different groups. The strongest buyer personas are based on market research as well as on insights you gather from your actual customer base (through surveys, interviews, etc.). Depending on your business, you could have as few as one or two personas, or as many as 10 or 20. (Note: If you’re new to personas, start small! You can always develop more personas later if needed.)
What Are Negative Personas?
Whereas a buyer persona is a representation of an ideal customer, a negative -- or “exclusionary” -- persona is a representation of who you don’t want as a customer.
This could include, for example, professionals who are too advanced for your product or service, students who are only engaging with your content for research/knowledge, or potential customers who are just too expensive to acquire (because of a low average sale price, their propensity to churn, or their unlikeliness to purchase again from your company.)
Well-crafted Buyer Personas can make the rest of your marketing pieces fit into place.
How Can You Use Personas?
At the most basic level, personas allow you to personalize or target your marketing strategies for different segments of your audience. For example, instead of sending the same lead nurturing emails to everyone in your database, you can segment by buyer persona and tailor your messaging according to what you know about those different personas.
If you take the time to create negative personas, you’ll have the added advantage of being able to segment out the “bad apples” from the rest of your contacts, which can help you achieve a lower cost-per-lead and cost-per-customer (and see higher sales productivity).
When combined with lifecycle stage (i.e. how far along someone is in your sales cycle), buyer personas also allow you to map out and create highly targeted content.
You can use our Buyer Persona Template to get started making your own personas. If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to reach out and let us know what you're thinking!