buyer persona

Buyer Personas Bridge Market Research and Marketing

One way to bridge market research and marketing is collaboration  to build buyer personas that humanize your target audience and give you insight into their motivation and source of influences.

One way to bridge market research and marketing is collaboration  to build buyer personas that humanize your target audience and give you insight into their motivation and source of influences.

Constructing buyer personas is a great way to close the gap between market research and marketing.

Buyer personas built from solid market research help marketers understand their target audience, how and where to connect with them and the journey they take to become buyers. Buyer personas also make buyers more human and less like ciphers, a quality that goes a long way in the marketplace of the 21st century.

The path to red-blooded buyer personas is to talk formally or informally with every kind of buyer imaginable: current buyers, previous buyers, buyers who stopped buying and super buyers who influence other buyers. Their comments about your product, service, quality and customer experience can paint a telling picture and a real-life video of the buyer journey.

For the picture to be more than a sketch, the market research needs to dig deeper than superficial observations about product characteristics and customer behavior. Market research must probe the “why" behind what customers do at different stages of the buyer journey so buyer personas reflect motivation, sources of influence and trigger points.

Once constructed, buyer personas represent an invaluable tool to segment customers for customized marketing outreach, product offerings, targeted discounts and purchasing options.

Well developed buyer personas don’t belong on the shelf or buried in a desk drawer. They should be the equivalent of having an actual customer sitting on the corner of a marketer's desk whispering into his or her ear.

Few may dispute the value of buyer personas, but many marketers overlook or ignore them in doing their jobs. Buyer personas can get in the way of a great marketing idea or message.

One solution to the disconnect between market research and marketing departments is to work together in fashioning buyer personas. The portraits from collaborative thinking are likely to be even more three dimensional than from isolated or strictly statistical market research. The conversations with present, past and potential buyers can explore marketing concepts to test their viability and bake in the findings to buyer persona portraits.

Perhaps the greatest contribution for marketers from buyer personas is a human-scale map of where to track down their ideal customers. Great content, useful information and fantastic offers can fall flat if they don’t reach their intended audience. Understanding your own buyer personas can help chart the map to find and connect with your customers. 

Targeting Your Target Audience

If connecting with your target audience is important, then finding your target audience is even more important. Research is critical.

"Doing the research before you create the content, before you start the blog, before you run the ad makes you stronger, more informed and better equipped to serve your market the best way possible," says Tommy Walker, an online marketing specialist.

Writing for ragan.com, Walker says your research needs to do more than identify who your target audience is. Research also needs to pinpoint why it is your target audience. Looking at demographics and psychographics in combination yields invaluable insights into how to frame your marketing message and where to place it.

"I'd be lying," Walker says, "if I said this type of research is easy, because it can be time-consuming." He says "this investment in time separates pros from amateurs."

In today's digital world, there is a lot of data to analyze to pinpoint your target audience. "Realistically, most businesses should focus on only two core markers — data that define who your core market is, and one to three secondary markers — data that flesh out the core market," Walker advises.

Core markers might be occupation, age, education levels or residence. Where a buyer goes for trusted information also can be a key core marker.

Secondary markers reflect what motivates a buyer. Examining what a buyer shares on social media can provide important clues to their interests, values, lifestyle and personality.

The final step in the process of targeting your target audience is to construct a buyer persona. This aggregated avatar for your real buyers enables you to develop content aimed squarely at your target.