We have posted quite a few contributions on the subject of buyer personas, but in our contact with clients we noticed one specific question showing up regularly, which we actually haven’t addressed yet, at least not directly, and that is: how many buyer personas is too many?
Buyer persona: from customer to ideal customer
The concept of a buyer persona includes a filtering option. A buyer persona is a representative profile of your ideal customer which consists of demographic criteria, characteristics, motivations and needs. “Ideal customer“ is the keyword here, as the personal approach is not worthwhile for all customers of a company.
Therefore we recommend to perform a customer value analysis prior to any buyer persona definition, in order to identify which characteristics your ideal customers should have, and which of your current customers you don’t want to address, specifically. Keep in mind, though,
a customer value analysis is not something that is exclusively geared to increase revenue, as there are several other customer attributes (such as recommendation, loyalty, etc.), which can be valuable to a business.
Buyer personas in marketing, sales and service that you really want to address as a company are those customers, who provide added value (however defined). A buyer persona description resembles a profile on a dating platform – you just don’t want to address every person who is interested in you, but rather the person, who is also right for you.
Defining buyer personas: understanding their reasons for buying
Another way to keep buyer personas manageable in the diverse world of B2C-customers is to neglect those differentiating characteristics, which are rather superficial, such as age, sex and location. Instead, you should distinguish according to the motivation or the reason to purchase. Find out, why the customer is interested in your product.
Consequently, it doesn’t matter whether a female customer is 20-30 or 30-45 years old. But it is important whether she wants to save a lot of money with her next purchase or pays attention to excellent quality. As a result, content and approach can be directed more precisely to the customer‘s motivators.
B2B companies: motivation is not everything
I already pointed out that this approach is particularly beneficial for B2C-companies. B2B-businesses often have a different chain of communication in lead management and sales, and also need to address various decision-makers in the course of a buying cycle. It is therefore important to focus on the position, the decision-making power, and the business area (marketing, sales, service, IT, etc.) in order to send the right message to the right contact person.
B2B-companies can therefore limit their buyer personas by considering these specific characteristics (and motivations). No attention must be payed to industries, though (unless the motivations for the purchase are depending on the industry, for example data protection requirements when selling software).
A buyer persona is designed to facilitate the communication and development of content by giving clues as to the following: what are your customer’s concerns, what are his needs and requirements, how does he communicate and through which channels, and what is his lifestyle?
It is particularly crucial that your content addresses exactly those issues that are important to your customer. The main characteristics of a buyer persona should provide greater guidance as to what the customer needs at what point in time, on which channel and in what form, in order to be able to make a buying decision. Each additional detail helps with the personal contact, but is not crucial for the development of a buyer persona.
If you need assistance in developing your own buyer persona, check out our service offerings regarding customer journey management.