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What is a buyer persona?

The benefits of putting customer personas to work for your biz

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Copper Staff

Contributors from members of the Copper team

Every part of your business needs to tie back to your customers — the most important asset any company has. Finding sustained success involves approaching every initiative with their clients’ preferences in mind, from social media to the sales process to revenue operations.

You might think you understand your customers, but if you don’t have quantitative data backing up those assumptions, you can’t be 100% sure. Which is why it’s so important to put in the work and learn everything you can about your buyers.

The problem is that small businesses have a tough time getting to know their customers, usually because of lack of time and resources. This often leads them to put something out there and just hope that people respond to it. Sure, that can work for some time, but buyer personas are the best way to grow a small business quickly.

It’s no wonder why 44% of B2B marketers currently use personas — they work! But what is a buyer persona? Why do you need them, anyway?

Let’s dig into the definition of a buyer persona, plus four compelling reasons why you need personas for your business.

What is the definition of a buyer persona?

A buyer persona is an exercise that helps you walk a mile in your clients’ shoes.

With buyer personas, you create semi-fictional profiles of the customers who buy from your business most frequently. This includes people who either buy and use your product, or the people who influence the buying process.

Buyer personas are an internal tool that enable businesses to fine-tune how they approach business. As long as your personas reflect real-world customer needs, you can use them to improve every area of your biz, from marketing to sales to customer success.

Most companies don’t have just one persona for their business, either. Statistically speaking, four personas will usually account for 90% of your sales. Businesses typically have 3-5 personas to start, but you might add more as:

  • Your business grows and becomes more complex
  • Your business model changes
  • The market shifts (lookin’ at you, COVID-19)
  • Client expectations change

Every buyer persona is completely unique, tailored to a specific decision-maker’s values and needs.

What makes up a buyer persona?

Some people get hung up on giving their buyer personas a cool backstory, but that isn’t the point of this exercise. It’s actually about understanding what motivates customers, on a deep level, to buy from you — and how you can better serve them.

Making assumptions about your customers doesn’t usually have the best outcome. Why? Because business leaders often don’t know as much about their customers as they think — there’s a good chance that your customer profiles will surprise you. Maybe you think your customers are C-level executives, but after doing a little research, you realize that most of your buyers are middle management. The difference between these two audiences has a huge impact on how you position your business.

The thing is, buyer personas work when they’re rooted in reality. This isn’t a vision board: personas are backed by real market data so you can bring in more high-paying customers. It’s okay to be aspirational in certain areas of your biz, but building buyer personas requires leaning heavily on the data.

Every company is different, but it helps to have a buyer persona template at the ready for your team to use. The template should include demographic information, company data and pain points — at a minimum.

Good buyer personas also include:

  • Quantitative data: This research should come from website data, current customer analyses and marketing performance data.
  • Qualitative data: What are customers saying about your business? Has your sales team heard comments from customers? How about customer success? What are customers saying on third-party review sites? Qualitative data may be harder to collect or quantify, but it does add value to the persona-building process.
  • Psychographics: Forget your audience’s age, gender and home life details. Those details don’t matter nearly as much in the B2B buying process. Instead, focus more on the emotional side of the decision-making process: What does your buyer fear? What’s their biggest problem? Effective buyer personas lean into the needs of their personas instead of getting hung up on how a person looks or where they live.

4 benefits of using buyer personas for business

We can’t stress how important it is to have accurate, continually updated buyer personas to help you make better-informed decisions to steer your business in a positive direction. These four benefits of using buyer personas can drastically change your business, too.

1. Smarter personalization

Clients are 48% more likely to sign a contract if you personalize your marketing. That’s a whole lotta sales firepower, and it all starts with your buyer personas.

Without buyer personas, you’re going to have a tough time personalizing your:

  • Emails
  • Website copy
  • Sales outreach

With personas, you can go beyond just personalizing your clients’ first names and better segment your lists by understanding and addressing people’s deepest needs to make them feel seen. Instead of just segmenting based on company size or role, dive deeper and create lists for things like experience level with your product, biggest pain point, etc. — then build out content to address each specific persona’s needs.

2. Improve content marketing

Among B2B marketers, 58% say that audience relevance is the number-one factor for successful content marketing. If you’re writing blogs, posting on social media, or filming videos to promote your biz, you can improve the quality of your content with buyer personas.

Content marketing and buyer personas go together like fish and chips, improving your:

  • Messaging: If you struggle to get your messaging just right, buyer personas make sure your messages are relatable and useful. By understanding your audience’s biggest problems, you can reverse-engineer your content marketing to turn more heads.
  • Content distribution: Are your customers on TikTok? If not, it probably doesn’t make sense to hop on the TikTok craze (even though those dance challenges look super fun). Personas help you laser-focus your marketing efforts so you’re only creating content on channels where your audience hangs out.
  • Website engagement: Your website definitely needs to sell your brand, but it can’t be too spammy. With an assist from buyer personas, you can make your website content 5X more effective by delivering real value to visitors.

3. Segment and scale automatically

93% of businesses that exceed their sales goals segment their customers in a CRM. Why? Because segmentation makes it way easier to send meaningful messages to the right groups of people.

Instead of sorting prospects by company size or industry, you can use a CRM like Copper to separate leads into different buckets based on their persona.

This allows you to market to different personas at scale. Never waste another hour agonizing over writing the perfect email; CRMs like Copper plug your buyer personas into your workflow so you can scale your nurturing efforts.

4. Improve ROI — and profits

If you need to persuade your boss to invest in buyer personas, the proof is in the pudding: 37% of companies that use buyer personas exceed their revenue goals.

Why? It comes down to a few things:

  • Personas increase email click-through rates by as much as 14%, boosting conversions by 10%
  • 56% of companies say personas lead to higher-quality leads
  • 36% of sales teams say personas shorten the sales cycle

Don’t spend another second writing social posts or cold emails that float into the abyss. With buyer personas, you can boost ROI and increase profits — so it just might be time to give them a try.

What is a buyer persona? Your key to a better business

Bottom line: if you sell to clients, buyer personas will give you the data you need to back up everything you do. And you don’t have to wait for your business to grow to create them. Both solopreneurs and enterprises can benefit from understanding their customers better.

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