What is a buyer persona? The guy who wrote the book on buyer personas, Tony Zambito, has a definition:
Buyer personas are research-based archetypal (modeled) representations of who buyers are, what they are trying to accomplish, what goals drive their behavior, how they think, how they buy, and why they make buying decisions.
Can you see how this would be useful for selling? Definitions are important. Start doing this: when you talk to a prospect, and you or they bring up a technical term, ask them what it means to them. The results will surprise you.
In his entry on the topic, Zambito points out how this definition is all about how the prospect buys.
Not profiling. The story of buyers is what we're developing here.
What Is a Buyer Persona: The Pieces of the Puzzle
First, when we're asking what is a buyer persona, we need to realize it is research-based. Sitting around a conference table arguing about the persona's name is not valuable. Getting real data on our buyers' behavior is.
Second, it's a modeled representation. As Tony says, you don't build a buyer persona: you model it from observed behaviors.
Third, we want to identify the actual buyers. While this sounds straightforward, Zamboti's experience demonstrates that the people we think will be buyers are frequently not those who actually make or influence the decision.
We want to uncover how they think, and what their goals are. Not what we believe they might be, but what they actually are. Hidden attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, motivations, principles.
And finally, where, when, how and why they buy.
Finding out all this info takes time, energy, effort and observation. It's not something you're going to put together in a couple hours around a conference table. But it is what the bigger companies are doing--and to be fair, they are much more easily able to collect a lot of this data such as where and how buyers are buying. Still, you can't theorize your way through buyer preferences and uncovering hidden motivations. You can't simulate that or passively capture that data. You have to go out and get it. And that is something we can do.
When Copywriters Answer the Question of What Is a Buyer Persona
The curious thing is that great copywriters develop and work with buyer personas all the time. No guessing for them. Finding out what is a buyer persona for the product or service they're writing for is what drives their copy. Getting at those secret reasons to buy, or not to buy, and setting up the right conditions to create a purchase. Think about the power this approach could have in impacting your sales funnel!
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