The lasting power of a brand can be defined by the conversion rate of first time customers into returning brand citizens. Customers are at the heart of any successful business, thus the qualifying factor that separates exceptional companies from their competitors is the time and effort they take to verify their audience. Researching the habits of your customer segments is one of the most powerful tools for tailoring your brand approaches and increasing customer retention across all areas. While your product or service was probably created with a particular kind of user in mind, loyal customers don't always match the ideal customer you originally intended to target. This very discrepancy is the difference between buyer profiles and buyer personas:
Buyer Profiles are a more precise description of potential customers you'd want to do business with now or in the future (this is often a list of real companies and stakeholders you'd have a realistic shot with). Specific characteristics are recorded under each profile like the client size (consumer, sole proprietor, partnership, multinational, etc.) budget, geography, and the demographics within the company. These purchasers would ideally hold some sort of long term relationship with your company, with services that are either ongoing or products that need to be replenished periodically. These buyer profiles are the expectation of individuals and companies you'd like to do business with, and are perhaps apart of the vision behind your offering.
Buyer Personas are a fictional or semi-fictional representation of different segments of your customer base. This often requires extensive research to find out who your customers are, and how to classify them according to certain determining factors. Characteristics considered for these profiles are often position, age, income, challenges, lifestyle and where they go for information. For a simple example, consider Ryan:
Ryan is a 28 year old lawyer who lives in South Edmonton. He lives on his own and loves to read blogs in his spare time. His goals include making partner at his firm, backpacking through Europe, and buying a new car. Challenges Ryan faces includes paying off his student loans and finding time to be more social with his friends.
Things to take away from Ryan's persona: He loves blogs, so advertising to him online would give the best exposure. Since Ryan is usually online, there's a high probability that Ryan uses social media at his age, making it another good platform to reach people like Ryan. If Ryan is looking to free up more of his time, finding a way to simplify his daily tasks might catch his attention, and since he is paying off his loans, some sort of payment plan will work best for him.
The purpose of researching personas is to gain insight towards the psychographic traits of a customer base and identify why these customers buy or return to your brand. The key is to view your customers as real people rather than just sales leads and numbers. Try to get inside the head of your customers and understand them - what motivates them? What do they do in their free time? What challenges do they face and what will make their lives easier? Although things like this may seem trivial, they are crucial for determining the most effective advertising methods and platforms.
According to HubSpot, using marketing personas makes websites 2 - 5 times more effective and easier to use.
Both buyer profiles and personas are important in the progress of your brand and should be performed periodically: once before you release your product or service, again after your product has been released and updated at least once a year. When starting up a brand, knowing your audience can be especially dire, as this may determine how you shape your verbal and visual identity, as well as what types of advertising and social media platforms you may choose to use. As a pre-existing company, creating buyer profiles can eliminate any guesswork that may go into tailoring your approaches. Generally, building buyer profiles and personas is a sure way to achieve better targeted marketing, attract better quality leads and remain up to date on changes in buyer behaviours. The benefits of taking the time to research and create these personas vastly outweighs the costs, and has become the key to reaffirming the need for your brand to your customers.