Buyer Personas Have Flaws
The Power of One fueled my early radio career. Learning how to speak to a single person instead of a large audience forced me to be a better scriptwriter and a better announcer. Ten years into my career, however, I discovered the most important flaw. My “one” wasn’t every “one” in the audience.
When television and talk radio are in full production mode, summer stinks. There are fewer viewers and fewer listeners. That’s why you get TV re-runs and guest hosts behind the mic. The summer dip was debilitating. Revenue fell off as much as 60%.
Our persona was named Laura. She was a married mom of three kids driving a five-year-old minivan with Goldfish crackers ground into the floormats. (We had a lot more data points, too, but you get the drift.)
Our research was spot on. These “Lauras” listened, told others, bought products direct, bought those advertised, and registered for our events. But, there was a nagging stat we weren’t addressing. 74% of our audience was Laura. But who were the other 26%?
They were men.
Then, we made the connection: Father’s Day is in June, about a month into the summer slump.
What if we programmed to the 26%?
The first year we tried it, June jumped from the worst month to the third highest revenue month of the year.
We had found our forgotten audience.
Your persona, if built in the traditional way on demographic and psychographic data, is missing big pieces of your audience.
The Magic of the Buyer Matrix™
Golden Spiral’s proprietary Buyer Matrix process overcomes the flaws in persona building. The process identifies all your audiences and dives deep into how the fit into the buying process. It’s a multi-layered tool that shines light into every nook and cranny in the world of your prospects and helps you identify their gut-level needs and how your solution meets them.
We fully advocate creating targeted content for each buyer in your matrix, but sometimes that is a heavy lift.
What do you do when creating general content? You find common ground through empathy, examining needs, and understanding the different reporting structures.
Write and Lead with Empathy
Understanding emotions can knock off the rough edges and boost your empathy, but often, you must travel a personal journey to get there. If you understand your own emotions, you are more likely to understand your buyers’.
If you understand your own emotions, you are more likely to understand your buyers’.
Most of my life, I was told I was too emotional and to not wear my heart on my sleeve. It wasn’t until my 40s that I was taught how to identify emotions and how to listen the stories they tell.
Think about emotions this way. You have muscles, organs, bones, and connective tissues. If you exercise, your muscles will help you run farther and faster and jump higher. If you trip over your shoelaces on the bottom step in your home, you break your leg and end up in a cast. Your emotions, when exercised, fed well, and cared for, give you gifts. When they are neglected, or worse, injured, they can be impaired.
Your prospects are going through the same thing. Don’t forget that even though you are selling a B2B solution, you are still selling to humans who have private lives and work stress competing for their attention. Even though the prospective company has processes and data-mining in place, ultimately a flesh-and-blood, emotional human being will make the call.
Which emotions are they feeling about their need? Are those emotions providing gifts or are they impaired?
Being in touch with your emotions will help you care for other people, even your customers. Being able to identify and care for yourself emotionally, will allow you to walk with your prospects through whatever they are going through. Build an empathetic understanding.
Understand Your Buyers’ Needs
The Buyer Matrix identifies the needs of each person at the decision table plus connects the parts of your solution that solve those needs. The needs from one person to another may vary widely, but when creating content, you can seek to find common ground. Two common elements we find over and over again are below. Listen: you might find different things in common by examining your matrix.
The needs from one person to another may vary widely, but when creating content, you can seek to find common ground.
Every company needs it. While every person in the decision process comes at revenue from a different perspective, revenue as a concept could be an issue that ties them together. Be aware of the specific trends in your market. What’s happening with the flux of the economy? How is your industry responding? Connect your revenue-generating power to their general need.
Another Day of Job Security
Careers and in flux. 2020 has seen overwhelming unemployment and companies of all stripes have had to let go of talent on all levels. Those remaining at your prospective companies are worried, too. Depending on the revenue trends you’ve already identified, how acute is the need to maintain job security in your industry? Connect why your solution makes the buyers essential to the companies after they implement it inside the company.
Making the decision to buy your solution is likely putting someone’s tenure at the prospective company on the line. This need is more acute than you might realize.
Hack Your Prospect’s Decision Making Structure
Your prospects have many around the decision table. Who wields power there? Knowing the structure will help you write, shoot, or produce both specific content and general content.
Fifty years ago, most companies had a military structure with employees reporting up through a rigid structure. Some companies still run this way and have the org chart to prove it. Others run this way on the inside even though they look more “modern” to the casual observer. If selling to a top down company, you know that each person involved in the decision reports to someone higher and ultimately the person at the highest point in the food chain holds the purse strings.
Cross-functional teams have grown in popularity in the last 25 years. When teams collaborate, their sales processes often take longer from need to final purchase because everyone needs to weigh in. Travel schedules and meeting conflicts can draw the season out.
In every organization, there are those who might not have the title, but exert tremendous influence over others. There are still those like E.F. Hutton (the brokerage firm of the 1970s and 80s whose commercials redefined communication). When they talk, everyone listens. How do you identify the influential voices within an organization? How do you arm them to be your advocates and internal sales people?
The First Thing to Do After Reading This Article
Open your CRM to a recent customer who is in an active engagement with you. Think through what you know about that customer. Get some input about emotions, needs, and reporting structure from the sales rep who won the account. Then, take a look at the content he or she interacted with during the buying process. Look for the connections between what you know about that customer’s motivations and how you met their needs. How can you do more of that moving forward?