In business, we hear it all the time: know your audience. Being able to understand their pain points and how they make purchasing decisions is key to marketing success.
Yet, many owners and CEOs in the life science space skip this critical step or push it to the back burner for “later.” (Which, as we know all too well, usually means never!)
It’s not that they think gaining intel on their audience is unimportant. They just might find the prospect daunting if their company targets multiple audiences or they offer a broad array of services to more than one market.
This is where buyer personas come in. Creating a simple description of your ideal client avatar is an incredibly useful tool to guide your marketing efforts and make sure the right message is getting to the right people.
In this post, we explain why you need a buyer persona, how to create one quickly and easily, plus how to use it to achieve your business goals.
BONUS: scroll down to the bottom of this post to download our free buyer persona template specifically for scientific businesses.
What is a Buyer Persona and Why Do You Need One?
There’s a great quote by marketing guru Seth Godin that says, “Everyone is not your customer.”
It’s a powerful statement that goes back to business basics, but it bears repeating because even established companies can fall into the “Jack-of-all-trades” trap.
Gaining clarity on not just WHAT you do, but WHO you do it for, will help you find, attract, communicate with, and sell to high-value customers.
Buyer personas can help you better understand your audience and, most importantly, steer your marketing and sales in the right direction.
But what exactly IS a buyer persona?
A buyer persona is a creative description of your ideal customer based on factors like demographics, behaviours, and psychographics (e.g., values, attitudes, beliefs, etc.). Think of it as an avatar representing your dream customer that you build using research and existing customer data.
How to Create a Buyer Persona for Science-Based Businesses
Creating a buyer persona is fairly simple, but knowing what to include and why isn’t always easy. There are many different types and styles of buyer persona, and there’s no perfect fit for all businesses.
We recommend starting with the basics, then building out your persona further as you gather more customer data and/or feedback from the market.
Generally, buyer personas can include:
- Avatar name
- Generational group
- Geographical location
- Job title/decision-making power
- Family/relationship status
- Household income
- Behavioural factors
- Pain points
- Purchasing behaviour
- Stage of buyer journey
- Preferred sources of information (websites, media, social platforms)
It’s important to mention here that buyer personas aren’t intended to put people or groups into a “box,” nor to alienate potential customers that fall outside these parameters. They are simply generalized personas built on representative characteristics to guide your business activities.
Now that you know some of the possibilities, it’s time to narrow your buyer persona down to fit your business. Which aspects will be most helpful (and relevant) in understanding your target audience?
What if I Need More Than One Buyer Persona?
While working through this process, you might find that you have multiple buyer personas. This is perfectly fine and actually very common, as long as they are distinct enough and align with your company’s target market segments without going too granular. (You wouldn’t want to have 35 personas, for example, but 3 to 5 is ok.)
For example, if your company offers a health tracking device paired with a mobile app, your market segments may be medical professionals, educational institutions with student health organizations, health/fitness coaches, and wellness-conscious consumers. Each segment would require different marketing and sales strategies, so you would create a buyer persona for each.
How to Find Data to Build Your Buyer Persona
Next up is gathering the information needed to fill in each section of your buyer persona. For B2B scientific companies, good sources include:
- Market research reports specific to your industry (available through a regular ol’ Google search)
- Trade association industry outlook reports (typically available free for members)
- Reports published by federal, provincial, or regional business accelerators/clusters and innovation hubs (e.g., Bioenterprise, Innovation Guelph)
- Peer-reviewed publications such as review papers (often contain useful data in introduction section) – search via Google Scholar
- Existing customer data from your CRM (customer relationship management) system or other tracking method
- Surveys or interviews to current or past customers
- Statistics Canada industry statistics
- Contact forms on your website (e.g., if industry type is an important factor in your target segments, include check boxes on your contact forms)
- Feedback from your sales team and others within your organization who interface with clients or the market overall
Pro tip: As you’re gathering research, remember that this isn’t a scientific report! A buyer persona is meant to be a marketing tool that leaves room for interpretation and creative liberty. In other words, a full literature review is not needed (nor would it be helpful), and you’re not aiming to gather ALL relevant data. Yes, use reputable sources and include references, but avoid getting sucked into the data rabbit hole – I promise, it never ends!
Finally, the fun part begins: getting creative with your buyer persona! Giving the avatar a descriptive name helps to (literally) personify it, making it easier to keep its characteristics top-of-mind when executing your sales and marketing strategies.
A few name ideas for inspiration (made up by yours truly for the purpose of this blog post):
- Nathan Naturopath
- Emily the Start-Up Executive
- David Datascientist
- Molly the Millennial Mom
- Health-Conscious Henry
The cheesier the better, in my personal opinion!
How to Use Your Buyer Persona in Marketing and Sales
So you created a buyer persona…now what?
Here are some tips on how to use your buyer persona(s) in your day-to-day sales and marketing activities:
- Make sure all team members know who your buyer persona is
- Post your buyer persona in your workspace for easy reference
- Select the right marketing channels (e.g., social media platforms, media outlets, content types, etc.)
- Develop a brand communications style guide aimed at the persona’s preferences (not your own)
- Craft communications that strike the right tone for the persona (how would they “like” to hear from you?”)
- Find the right leads by using the buyer persona as a checklist when prospecting or fielding sales inquiries
- Determine lead and customer priority based on fit with your buyer persona
- Adjust your buyer persona over time as the market and your business model changes
We hope you found this post helpful as you formalize your marketing process!
To help you get started, download our free Buyer Persona Template for Scientific Businesses.