How to understand your customers? Creating a buyer persona will help!

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Gap Inc. is a clothing and accessories retailer widely popular all over the world. You probably have a pair of Gap jeans or hoodie in your wardrobe!

Gap is a widely recognized brand. Its logo, with the word Gap in capital letters in a blue box, has been a symbol of style since 1986. But, in 2010, the company dared to rebrand in order to attract a younger audience. The updated logo was a white box with the word Gap and a small light blue square placed over the letter p.

Gap’s rebranding caused active discussion, and not because of great logo update. On the contrary, the audience criticised the company for the ugly redesign. As a result, Gap returned the old logo in less than a week. Unfortunately, the rebrand was estimated to have cost $100 million. What a spending!

There is one simple reason for such a failure - poor understanding of the target audience. As stated in Forbes: “Existing customers felt hurt that Gap was trying to be fashion-forward and trendy when the appeal was that they were a good, basic option for people who aren’t into trends.” Moreover, some of Gap’s devoted clients claimed that they would stop buying anything from the company’s stores when they see the updated logo on the items.

This means that, with their logo redesign, Gap was trying to address the group of people who weren’t their customers, neglecting the preferences and feelings of people that were already bringing revenue. They were targeting the wrong people.

Bad understanding of the current audience cost Gap too much. They risked not just money, but customer loyalty and the company’s reputation. Fortunately, returning to the previous logo design allowed the company to survive. Here is the main lesson that Gap and many other businesses have learned from this situation: don’t make any company decisions unless you exactly understand who your buyers are.

You still don’t know what your buyer persona is? We have good news for you. With this series of articles, we will introduce your ideal buyer persona to you. But we’ll need some help from your side. So don’t relax while reading!

The importance of buyer persona

A buyer persona is a portrait of your ideal customer, representing a certain group of your users. Such a portrait can include age, gender, education, profession, yearly income and any other information that may be relevant to identifying your potential customer. You can have multiple buyer persona profiles if you release different products or target different audiences at the same time.

Creating a buyer persona gives you a clear roadmap to satisfying your existing and potential clients in the following ways:

  • Identify the needs and expectations of your customers
    Intuition shouldn’t decide what your customers need, research should. This remains the same whether you are building an MVP or running a successful multi-million-dollar business. When you know who your buyer is, creating the right solution for them is much easier.
  • Understand purchasing decisions
    Which factors affect your customer purchasing decisions? Is the price more important than the brand? Do they pay more attention to the product design or specifications? A buyer persona can make these decisions more clear and help you target effectively.  
  • Find out more about your target users behavior
    Where do they consume information? Do they read newspapers, watch TV or prefer a newsfeed on their phone? Such insights will help you reach your potential customer through the right media.
  • Narrow the target of your advertising campaign
    You are probably trying to reach as many people as possible with your advertising, but this is completely the wrong approach. The more people you target, the more you have to pay, and the less efficient your campaign is. Knowing your buyer persona means targeting only specific groups of people that are more likely to buy your product. As a result, efficiency rises, the advertising costs decrease.
  • Targeted marketing
    Similar to advertising, marketing with the wrong targeting is too expensive and too inefficient. However, you can choose to segment your marketing campaign according to several buyer personas and target each with tailored offers, emails and blog posts.
  • Attract better quality leads
    By narrowing your ads and marketing targeting, you increase the quality of your leads. Have you ever had to talk to people that came to your website but didn’t really understand what you offer? With the correct targeting, the overall number of leads will decrease, but their quality will increase.
  • Make objective decisions concerning rebranding
    Yes, this is what Gap did wrong. You probably won’t ever choose pink as your main color when you know that your customers are men in the age group 45-60, even if you personally like the color. This is the idea behind the buyer persona concept - you have to satisfy your customer, not yourself.
  • Make the most of A/B testing
    When preparing for an A/B test, select more qualitative variables to be tested with real customers. Understanding who you need to target enables you to perform more efficient A/B testing.
  • Outperform your competitors
    The creation of buyer personas will give you deep understanding of the market and the customer. This is a significant advantage over competitors that still trust their intuition in creating offers, advertising, and other content.

Where to gather information

Now that you know what a buyer persona is and its advantages for your business, you’re probably wondering “Where to get the information about my buyer persona?” You may be surprised, but you already have this information! All you need is to gather and structure it correctly.

There are several sources from which you can extract information about your ideal customer.

CRM and Sales Data

Start with the source you are using every day to track of your sales. This can be a CRM (Customer Relationship Management tool) or a spreadsheet where you store data on your sales and clients.

A CRM is a good source for creating a buyer persona since it shows you factual data about people that are already your paying clients. Few other tools can provide you with more exact and verified data about your buyers.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics can show you who is interested in your products or services. The tool gathers demographic information about your website visitors or app users: their gender, age, location, etc. This will give you an idea of who your potential customer is, where they come from and which language they speak.

Social media data

Social media channels allow you to gather information about the interests, preferences, and problems of your target audience. Twitter Analytics, for example, gives you an insight into your followers’ engagement - which posts do they like and comment on, which do they ignore, and when are they most active?

Facebook Audience Insights is probably the most extensive service for finding out more about your audience. You can learn everything people usually share on Facebook: the education and relationship status of your subscribers, which devices they use to access Facebook, which languages they speak, which other pages they follow, which topics they engage with, etc.

This is the real treasure for creating a detailed portrait of your ideal buyer. Moreover, it’s free, so not using it is a marketing sin!

Interviews and questionnaires

Sometimes, the data you find using your CRM, social media accounts and Google Analytics is not enough to build a detailed buyer persona. If you need specific information about your existing or potential customers, why don’t you just ask them?

You can reach your potential users on the street. For example, if your business is selling accessories online, you can speak to people in front of a shopping mall. If you deliver lunches to office workers, talking to them near a hot dog stand during midday break can be a nice decision. This is where you can meet people that will potentially buy your product or service, and their opinion is exactly what you need.

Besides, when talking to your potential clients, you can run an A/B test in real time asking for their opinion. Which color is better for the application UI, light blue or grey? Which call to action is less obtrusive but more convincing? This information will help you build a perfect product from the point of view of your customers!

Questionnaires are a great option when you need to ask questions without talking to people in person. Send the link to the questionnaire to your subscribers, share it on your Facebook page, offer a discount or a coupon to those who answer your questions, and - voila! - the specific information about your customers, their preferences and needs is in your pocket! Use it wisely.

When you have access to relevant data – you’re ready to create your buyer persona. Prepare a list of critical questions to learn specific information about your customers, which can affect product/service sales. Also, don’t neglect online tools - they can be helpful.  

A Buyer Persona is a must-have if you want your business to grow. It is crucial if you want to understand your customer, tailor your offer to their needs, and satisfy them with your service. Your smart approach to targeting will reward even sooner than you expect!

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