A few years ago I read a book called The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott. (If you haven’t read it, it’s a great book and I highly recommend it.) One of my favourite sections of the book talked about buyer personas. According to the author, a buyer persona is “a representative of a type of buyer that you have identified as having a specific interest in your organization or product or having a market problem that your product or service solves.” Companies can create a variety of buyer personas to help them craft their marketing messages to address the unique needs of each persona.
Meerman Scott points out that marketers for the major U.S. political parties have been using buyer personas for years. For example, one buyer persona might be called “NASCAR Dads” (rural, working-class males, many of whom are NASCAR fans) or Security Moms (mothers who are worried about terrorism and concerned about security). Says Meerman Scott, “by segmenting millions of voters into distinct buyer personas, candidates build marketing campaigns and PR programs that appealed specifically to each.”
That made a lot of sense to me, so I set out to create a set of buyer personas for my company, Eservus, which provides online concierge services to tenants in office buildings. By brainstorming and strategizing with my team, and after carefully analyzing our member survey and purchase data, we came up with five distinct buyer personas:
Sports Fan Sam: Does a clear image of Sam pop into your head? Of course! Sam is, obviously, into a variety of sports, so when we target Sam, we make sure that he knows about all the great Raptors, Blue Jays, Stampeders and Red Sox tickets we have available … at a discount.
Soccer Mom Sally: You can tell if your buyer persona is effective if it creates a strong image in your mind of a particular personality type, and Soccer Mom Sally certainly does that. Sally lives in the suburbs, is married and has young children at home. We think Sally is looking for savings and convenience, so when we target her in our e-mail promotions, we make sure that we highlight these attributes in our communications.
Footloose Fiona: Fiona is young, single and enjoys going out with her friends. For Fiona, we promote a variety of lifestyle products that better meet her needs, including restaurants, fitness and social engagement.
Cultured Chris: Chris is a little older, can me male or female, whose kids are no longer living at home. Chris enjoys the finer things in life, and loves going to the ballet, the symphony or perhaps the opera. We target Chris with messaging that appeals to their more “sophisticated” sensibilities.
Corporate Casey: Casey makes purchases on behalf of his or her company, and so is not necessarily looking for the best deal, but definitely needs to find the right product quickly and easily … Casey doesn’t have any time to waste! For Casey, we focus our messaging on the ease of use of the Eservus online platform and timely response to questions and requests.
Does anyone else use buyer personas to segment their customers? If so, I’d love to hear about them!
Kirk Layton is the president of Eservus, an online corporate concierge company servicing over 30 property management companies in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Boston.