Have you ever wondered who first used the phrase “buyer persona”? Credit goes to well-known software designer Alan Cooper, who came up with the original concept of personas back in the 1990’s to describe the needs and characteristics of different types of users as he worked to design more user-friendly computer interfaces. In his 1998 book entitled "The Inmates Are Running the Asylum", Cooper made a distinction between “user personas” and “buyer personas”, emphasizing the importance of designing software to meet users’ needs and acknowledging that the needs of software buyers are indeed very different.
In simple terms, a buyer persona can be defined as a detailed description of a typical customer. To understand the real essence of buyer personas, however, it is instructive to reference Cooper’s blog post in which he recounts his personal story of the evolution of user personas that are “clearly differentiated by their goals, tasks, and skill levels”. Similarly, a buyer persona extends well beyond a demographic profile to include buyer behaviors and motivations as well.
The key benefit of buyer persona development is the creation of a focal point for your marketing and sales activities. Focused efforts are always more effective in yielding improved results.
Use your knowledge and observations of your current customers to formulate definitions of one or more buyer personas for your business. In addition to identifying demographic information and observing their behaviors as prospects and buyers, interview your customers to uncover their motivations and the underlying factors that affect their decision-making processes.
First, identify customers who match a particular demographic profile. Interview them to find the commonalities in their buyer motivations and behaviors. These shared traits combine to form the buyer persona for that demographic. Follow this same methodology to define a full set of buyer personas across all demographics within your customer base.
Keep in mind that buyer behaviors and motivations are constantly changing in response to fluid business environments. As a result, buyer personas must be reviewed and revised on an ongoing basis to maintain their validity as accurate targets for Inbound Marketing efforts.
In the meantime, download the 24 marketing tips to set your company apart. Hint: One of the tips is to develop a buyer persona.
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