Buyer profiles, buyer personas, is there a difference?
The answer is both "no" and "yes".
Buyer personas are typically described as profiles of the buyer. Yet, they warrant new terminology because they go way beyond the simplistic buyer profiles of yesteryear.
Traditionally, marketers used buyer profiles to help them segment their target markets. These buyer profiles tended to be simplistic in nature. For business to business buyers, the profile might include industry, role (via title), business size,and business location. For consumers, the profile might include gender, age, location, and income.
These buyer profiles reflected what marketers could actually target with the marketing databases and advertising of the times. Why build better profiles when the technology didn't exist to really use it?
Well, the technology exists today. Marketers have a significantly enhanced toolbox complete with information about intent - keyword search and adwords as well as the ability to track all sorts of behaviors with marketing automation tools.
It is difficult to realize the full potential of these tools without a much richer buyer profile to drive them. This is where buyer personas come in.
Buyer personas are profiles for real people, not simply categories of people. They detail the characteristics that come into play when an individual seeks to buy a product. Buyer personas can include the traditional components:
- Demographics - age, gender, marital status, income, location, etc.
- Bizographics - industry, business size, seniority, function, role, risk, culture, etc.
Of greater value are the buyer personas' personal characteristics:
- Psychographics - personality, values, attitudes, interests, lifestyles, etc.
- Motivation - needs, goals, pains,ideals, challenges, etc.
- Relationships - peers, subordinates, superiors, etc.
- Modalities - behaviors, buying needs, buying process, risk tendencies, decision-making, etc.
Marketers who create buyer personas, aren't throwing darts into the great unknown anymore. They actually understand their buyer. They know not only where to find them (basically all we got from the old buyer profiles), but how to reach and engage them. They know how to persuade them to buy.
As you can see from the depth of the profile, buyer personas aren't trivial to create. You actually have to research your buyers. You have to talk with and listen to your buyers. You have to draw from the variety of individuals in your organization that have first hand experience with your buyers. Then, you have to analyze all of this information to make sense of it.
The result is pure gold for you and your organization. Every buyer persona insight is actionable. Use the insight to improve your product design, build a more effective marketing approach, create a stronger relationship, and expedite your sales process.
Once you know your buyer, all of your marketing and sales efforts can be designed to optimize the buying process.
Want to increase your conversion rate, use buyer concerns to attract your buyer.
Want to decrease your sales cycle, anticipate your buyer's needs.
Want to close the sale, craft the persuasive offer.
Buyer personas give you the insight you need to achieve each of these objectives.
Improve your personal effectiveness as a marketer. Dig in and use the institutional knowledge to start crafting buyer personas. Watch it reap rewards across the organization. Knowledge is power. Buyer personas change the marketing game.