Knowing who your personas are is critical to your company’s profit and loss. Do you know who your personas are? If you don’t know who your personas are you’re probably losing out on a lot of revenue. But once you define your personas, in as much detail as you would a character in a novel, then you’ll increase your profit, not only from leads that used your website as the point of purchase but your whole company can benefit from knowing who your buyer personas are.
What is a buyer persona?
The buyer persona is a detailed description of a typical person coming to your website in need of a particular thing. She doesn’t necessarily “buy” something with her money: she could download a white paper or subscribe to your newsletter – IF that’s what you want her to do.
If you have several different products or services, you probably have more than one persona in need of something you offer.
Each buyer persona will seek information in a different way. It’s the job of your website producer to define and design that path (that’s a whole other blog post, folks!) from words and pictures to calls-to-action to point-of-purchase (Ka-CHING!).
What’s the Action you want your persona to take?
That Action (resulting in money for you – the Ka-CHING!) could be the downloading of your free ebook in exchange for an email address (you can continue to connect with later on); an actual purchase of a product on an ecommerce site; a donation to your non-profit organization; a phone call or contact form filled out by a hot prospect. Whatever action you want people to take on your website, should result in money for you, either immediately or within days of first contact.
Example of buyer personas for a Plastic Surgeon’s website
Later on in this post, I’ll give you another example of a buyer persona for a career coach. For my main example, I’ll use a cosmetic surgeon’s (plastic surgeon) website, which would have several personas. Here are five but note that I haven’t defined them (yet) to the level of detail I’m urging you to define yours. We’ll do that in the next step.
Personas for a Plastic Surgeon’s Website:
- College-age woman seeking breast augmentation
- Mother with young children, seeking a mommy-makeover
- Baby boomer-aged woman seeking age-reducing enhancements
- Burn victims and breast cancer survivors
- Men in need of surgery or other treatments to enhance their youth
To make it easier and less confusing to your buyer personas visiting your website, you could group those examples into two groups: 1.) male and female; and 2.) medical.
The female group has three main personas: 1.) college-age; 2.) young mom; 3.) over-45 year old women.
The male group could have two: 1.) weight-loss (men who have recently lost a large amount of weight and are in need of surgery to remove loose skin) and 2.) men over 45-years old.
The third group could be personas in need of breast augmentation after surviving breast cancer or burn victims in need of skin grafting.
Next step: think of your buyer personas in terms of their highest needs
Your buyer personas each have a higher need than what you’ll physically provide for them. The Cosmetic Surgeon physically cuts, molds, enhances, decreases her or his patients’ physical bodies but ultimately s/he is giving these people something that can’t be held or touched: their self-esteem and reassurance they’re choosing the best doctor.
Knowing the highest needs of each persona is critical when talking to them in your Website copy and emotionally connecting with them through photos. Be sure to define the HIGHEST NEED and list things to mention over and over that could be designed in headlines; graphics and photos. A before-and-after photo gallery HAS to be part of a Cosmetic Surgeon’s website because the persona will see the work that this doctor has done and feel confident she’s choosing the best surgeon for her. She’ll also emotionally connect (feel) with these photos because she sees herself in both photos: before and after. What types of things can you include on your website that will connect to your buyer personas’ highest needs? Here’s how I defined our examples:
- Self-esteem: College-age woman seeking breast augmentation
- Self-esteem: Mother with young children, seeking a mommy-makeover
- Self-esteem: Baby boomer-aged woman seeking age-reducing enhancements
- Medical and self-esteem: burn victims and breast cancer survivors
- Self-esteem: men in need of surgery or other treatments to enhance their youth.
See how pervasive and universal the highest need of “self-esteem” is? It resonates with all five personas.
Knowing your buyer personas and their highest needs can help your team craft the best website possible
Your website producer can craft different messages based on the different solutions you offer to your buyer personas. Once these messages and solutions are defined (this happens in the Information Architecture phase of your website’s production) the website producer can communicate this CRITICAL information to her team.
Your Web copywriter can benefit from knowing what your persona’s highest needs are because she can successfully craft copy that resonates with your personas by the words and tone of voice chosen; and she can include links to other information in your website (before-and-after photo gallery; testimonials) to guide your personas on a path through your website that builds trust and credibility so much that they take Action and call you or fill out your contact form (or download an ebook; subscribe to a newsletter; make a donation; etc.)
Knowing the highest needs of your personas helps your SEO expert; your web designer; your photographer and/or video producer; your programmer and your marketing director. Your entire company benefits from this knowledge because you’ve given them the keys to drive the “car” – the keys to drive your business into more profits instead of loss. But the “big picture” description of your persona should be even more detailed than words and feelings can convey: use photos.
Use a photo to put a face on your persona
When communicating personas to your team, don’t stop with words – include an actual photograph of your buyer persona(s). I highly recommend you describe your personas physically as well as their emotional state of mind when seeking information; economic status, race and belief systems and/or religion. After composing this description, go to Istock.com and type in a few keywords into the photo section to find photos of your personas. For instance: when you search in Istock.com for “caucasian business woman, baby boomer” lots of results appear. Pick out the photo of your buyer persona and add it to the profile. By now you should pretty much know what your buyer persona looks like.
Let’s pretend you’re an entrepreneur coach, who specializes in coaching brand new entrepreneurs: people who leave the corporate world behind to start their own companies. There need to be photos of your buyer personas to emotionally connect with when they visit your website. You, the entrepreneur coach, and your website producer must decide on the buyer personas. Let’s figure out one of them…
Is she a glamorous-looking 45 year old bank loan officer named Allison, who still looks youthful, is attractive and is very intelligent, just got laid off and wants to work in another bank as soon as possible? Or is she a bit older, perhaps 58 years old, named Margaret, who just got laid off, takes pride in her appearance yet doesn’t care about appearing “youthful” and instead, wears her white hair like a badge of honor, conveying her wisdom, earned over years of battling her way to the top of the company food chain and now wants to take this opportunity to launch her own company?
Which picture is THE picture of your buyer persona? Margaret or Allison?
A picture really IS worth a thousand words. Your messages, your website design, photos, language and tone of voice in the copy -everything – change dramatically when you decide that Persona Margaret (woman with white hair) is really your buyer persona versus Persona Allison, who’s not in need of your services at this point in her life yet and has different attitudes, needs and wishes than Margaret’s. Remember: you, the coach specialize in helping brand new entrepreneurs and NOT people who want to seek “9-5” employment, like Allison. Once you choose the photograph of your persona, include it in the profile and always have your team review the profile before they create their piece of your website.
Describe your personas’ needs and wishes and then match them up to your services and/or products. Chances are high that both lists match up pretty good: you can fulfill all their needs and wishes, right? Now go look at your website. Does your homepage immediately address these needs and wishes? Or is it hard to find the information your personas need in order to decide whether or not to contact you? If your website didn’t pass this little review you just did, you need help so you can start increasing your revenue by helping your prospective buyers take action to contact you rather than frustrate them.
The buyer persona for an entrepreneur coach
Let’s say you’re a coach who coaches people to transition from the typical 9-5 career into entrepreneurship. Here’s one example of a persona in need of your services. The emotions “Caroline Newbie” feels and her wishes are bolded in red font color:
- Caroline Newbie is thinking of launching her own social media marketing business and becoming a successful entrepreneur but feels stuck working full-time as a restaurant manager. Her customers love her because she’s always happy to see them and knows what their needs are. She loves her customers and her co-workers whom she manages and leads very well but feels restaurant management is not her passion or calling in life. Caroline is married and has two young children and wishes she could work from home and spend more time with her children. She’s scared to leave a job that pays well but is very unhappy doing this type of work. She’s been trying to manage her restaurant’s Facebook fan page; Twitter; blog; and LinkedIn network and loves the world of social media marketing and wants to produce videos and write ebooks of her own to help people understand it. She knows she can create a company that specializes in social media marketing for restaurants (her niche). She knows there’s a need because restaurant owners and managers barely have time to run to the restroom let alone spend time to run their social networks and properly care for an online community of fans. She searches Google, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Facebook, for a career coach who can help her make the leap from mundane job into starting and running her own exciting yet lucrative company. She has lots of ideas and even has a network of possible leads but feels lost because she doesn’t know how to start or where to start. She needs a coach who can help her take each step on her journey without losing any income or sleep. She’s scared, excited, certain she can earn more income from her new company yet feels uncertain as to how to begin the transition.
The entrepreneur coach Caroline ends up working with was chosen because of his website. Caroline found the coach’s website in Google, and she verified the coach’s credibility by reviewing his LinkedIn profile and endorsements but it was really his website that got Caroline to pick up the phone and call her coach. Want to know what was on his website?
Features of the entrepreneur coach’s website that converts prospect into clients
Overall, the coach’s website made Caroline feel confident that this coach was probably the right fit for her. (Though, her first session with him would really convince her, of course.) The coach’s website had these things in it:
- Easy to find in Google (on page one of natural/organic search results)
- Photos of real people with their testimonials of how the coach helped each of them.
- Headlines within the pages that made it easy for her to pick out information to read.
- Headlines and copy had benefit statements – instead of “my, me, I’m” type of information.
- A free ebook of tips for people in transition between careers.
- A free ebook for people going from 9-5 jobs into entrepreneurship.
- A free coaching session making it easy for Caroline to test-run her coach before committing to a signed contract.
- A large number of blog posts, written by the coach himself, advising people on how to enjoy life; enjoy work; manage time; hire the right people; how to delegate; resources for writing a business plan and a proposal, plus much more information – the blog itself was like going to entrepreneur university.
- Social network links to each of the coach’s networks so Caroline could check out how he interacts with people via his Facebook fan page; Twitter; etc. She began to like him.
- What really cinched it for Caroline was the coach’s videos. She got to see him on video, which was the next best thing to meeting him in person. She began to like him and trust him. Then she called him, did a free coaching session and now is on her way to creating the life of her dreams. The coach gained a new client who then spread the word to her networks about him. Caroline ended up bringing her coach several referrals of friends of hers who were in the same situation as she was. The coach’s bottomline increased because of his website and his social networking.
Now you know what a buyer persona is; how to describe each persona of yours; and why it’s so important to do that. Now you know how your website can be 200% better in converting visitors into qualified leads who call you or perform the call-to-action you’ve defined throughout your website.
I’m going to be bossy now: I’d like you to tell me your name and the name of your business and describe your top buyer persona in the comments below. Also, state the call-to-action you want your buyer persona to do before she leaves your website. Then go have a meeting with your Website producer to improve or re-design your site to please your personas. I’d love to hear about your success!