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Elevate the buyer persona and embrace the radical buyer

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 25 Mar, 2019
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Use your customer data to find and target your most valuable customers

As every savvy marketer knows, using buyer personas is a time-honored technique that helps ensure messaging stays focused on the customer — nearly 60% of B2B marketers currently use them. The problem is that the results are mixed. Only a little more than a third of those marketers describe personas as being "very" or "extremely" effective, and 16% say they are "not at all" or "not very" effective. 

So why aren't these marketers having better luck with what should be a surefire tactic?

The truth is that no matter how hard you work to market your product, you're not going to see success selling to the wrong persona. You wouldn’t target young professional men when the customers who really want what you’re offering are middle-aged moms. You probably can't sell baby strollers to singles, for example. No matter how powerful your message or your medium, you won't be able to break through without directing the right message to the right segment of your market. 

But what’s the most important part of the formula? Knowing the DNA of your radical buyer.

The Challenges of Creating Buyer Personas

Even if you recognize the importance of constructing an accurate buyer persona, you may struggle to pinpoint it. There are a few common reasons for this.

When creating a buyer persona, marketers tend to make dangerous assumptions based on their own experience or on feedback from sales teams that isn't rooted in hard data. By doing proper market research to dig deeper than common stereotypes, you'll gain a better understanding of your target market and construct a more accurate profile of the radical buyer.

 Don’t believe you buy into stereotypes? Thanks to the media, they’ve become so pervasive that we may not even recognize how much they affect us. In recent years, we've been fed warped pictures of every generation, from Baby Boomers to Gen Xers to Millennials. The popular notion of Millennials, for example, is that they are lazy and self-absorbed, but in reality, they comprise an enthusiastic and faithful customer base. Consider the meteoric growth Snapchat saw once it determined that its radical buyer is a Millennial.

 Marketers also often try to serve more people than they can handle. But if your brand targets "everyone," it really doesn’t have a target market. When you research buying habits, don't shy away from winnowing your list down to those customers who seem most likely to talk up your product and buy more of it. Don’t spread yourself too thin trying to be all things to all people; if you’re aiming everywhere, your shot will never hit the bull’s-eye. That approach will backfire and your pipeline will get clogged up with prospects with virtually no interest in buying from you. This is where the radical buyer comes in.

Introducing Your Radical Buyer

Buyer personas help businesses identify their target audience. The concept of the "radical buyer" goes a few steps further by not only identifying the type of person who might do business with you, but also fleshing out your business's most loyal and lucrative customers. The radical buyer, to put it simply, is deeply rooted in customer data. Your radical buyer promotes your business rather than critiques it.

Detractors drain your resources with customer service requests and complaints about unmet needs. Spending all your time trying to cater to them leads you down a rabbit hole, scrambling to develop the right products and services for your audience. Promoters do the opposite: They love your business and what you're offering, and they recommend you to their friends, generating dynamite referrals without you having to go overboard on incentives.

To understand this dynamic better, think about the kind of weight online reviews on sites like Yelp and Amazon carry these days. Some 47% of consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 have taken to social media to complain about a brand’s customer service, and the annual BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey 2016 found that 60% of customers are reluctant to buy from a business with negative reviews. Furthermore, the same survey showed that 84% of people trust online reviews just as much as they would a personal recommendation.

How to Develop a Radical Buyer

If you want more promoters than detractors, identifying your radical buyer will help. While you may have several buyer personas, identifying your radical buyer is the key to accelerating sales 

1. Gather customer data.

 First, you have to identify the promoters and detractors in your customer base. The best way to do this is to use what's known as a Net Promoter Score, which is simply a rating from your customers. You ask them, on a scale of 1 to 10, how likely they are to refer your business to someone else. Then, based on their responses, you divide them into three groups. Those who give your brand a 9 or a 10 are promoters. Scores between 7 and 8 indicate passivity — maybe they love you, maybe they're leaving you, or maybe they just don’t care. Any score below 6 means you have a detractor on your hands.

Take this data and calculate your official NPS by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. Most customers will readily agree to take the short NPS survey, and they may even provide you with more information than that. You can follow up on the survey by asking those on the cusp (who gave you a 7 or 8) to explain their reasoning. If you ask what it would take to raise your score just by one point, for example, you can use that information to improve your offerings and expand your total number of promoters.

2. Analyze your promoters

Once you've identified the promoters in your customer base, see what data points they have in common. Do they all purchase a specific product or service? Do they share the same title or come from the same lead source? Find the commonalities to begin to paint a picture of your radical buyer. Base your analysis on your best customers only: those who love you and feel lucky to have found you — in other words, the promoters.

 Your 9s and 10s provide the raw materials that will become the predictive, radical buyer persona you want. Observe their behaviors throughout the purchasing journey, search for patterns, and devise a hypothesis about your radical buyer persona based on what you find. If most of your clients who gave you a 9 or 10 NPS are Baby Boomers who have come out of retirement to start their own businesses, they may need help choosing the right product or service. That’s bound to different assistance than the kind you'd offer to Millennials.

3. Back up your findings with market research

As you build a persona for your radical buyer, it can help to survey the market to see whether your findings hold true. Use tools like Survey Monkey and Google Surveys to instantly get insights from your target market. In the process, look at customers, prospects, and others who might align with your ideal buyer. 

Building upon the earlier example, let's say you know your Baby Boomer customers have trouble managing technology for their businesses, but you also know your sample size is small. Upon surveying a wider audience, you find that it’s Boomers transitioning to business owners who need help with business tech. More importantly, you find that those who align most closely with your radical buyer enjoy learning about new technology and prefer to take a hands-on approach when it comes to implementing it.

4. Apply your research

Be sure to identify a specific radical buyer (name, age, sex, profession, etc.) to help your team keep that buyer top of mind in all business processes. When you know you've painted a solid portrait of the radical buyer, the final step is to use these insights to modify your business model and attract moreradical buyers. 

In our customer survey at Hatchbuck, for example, respondents said they used less than 25 percent of our features, and many hoped to use customer relationship management and marketing automation to scale their sales without necessarily growing their business footprint. Our radical buyer felt we should focus on a handful of strong features rather than fancy, elaborate tools, so we modified our business accordingly. For you, this modification might involve adjusting your pricing, reimagining your service offerings, or even rebranding your business. For instance, you might begin offering a training class to help those Baby Boomer clients tackle technology on their own terms.

Developing a radical buyer may seem complicated, but it's absolutely vital and simpler than it sounds. Don't waste your marketing time and dollars on a weak target market only to shout into a vacuum. Following this formula, identify and reach out to those customers who already love what you're offering and figure out how and where to find more like them.

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