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The Pursuit of Becky: Why Buyer Personas are the new Target Market

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This is an Updated Post (Originally published May 16, 2012) 

Is "Becky" going to be there?  That is a question everyone at Highbrid Media is required to ask themselves before investing time or money in any activity. Who is "Becky," you ask? 

She is no one in particular, and yet the most important person in our business. "Becky" represents our target consumer. We branded her, (yes she is a female) years ago upon the advice of Carissa Reiniger (@CarissaReiniger) owner of Silver Lining LTD, and the brains behind her SLAP methodology. Without getting too in depth, her coaching model focuses her client's attention on how every action will positively or adversely affect its ability to sell to "James," or her target consumer.

This methodology is one, that as a marketer, truly resonates with us. Years ago, one of the first question we would always ask business owners, large and small, during our discovery phase was: target market.  Far too often the answer is simply "EVERYONE!" The problem is, if that were the correct answer, we'd all be billionaires and have no problem shooting a bulls-eye in archery.  The problem is everyone doesn't make our best customer.  In fact even a traditional target demo (ie: Latino Women 28-34 is far too vague.)  You need to develop a full profile or a buyer persona to make sure you're attracting the right customer in the awareness stage of the marketing funnel. 

Buyer Personas are a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. It should account for best customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals and the more detailed the better and name him or her, only brings their presence to life. 

Your buyer persona must effectively communicate to your entire organization who she is, where she lives, married?, how many kids, how old, how she gets around, where she buys her groceries, even the TV she watches and books she reads. Why? Because more accurately defining your buyer, allows you to invest more time and money in pursuing this person who you've identified as most likely to buy and less invested in those who aren't. Let me introduce you to "Becky" so you can get a clearer idea.

Becky is 35-50 years old.  She is earning between $75,000 - $125,000.  She has 5 to 10 years of field experience and may have recently received or is currently working on her MBA.  Becky lives in a condo or a new home in Brooklyn, Westchester, Jersey, Long Island or Connecticut.   
She does own a car (unless she lives in the city in which she uses UBER frequently, and the occasional yellow taxi.)  She only uses mass transit to navigate the city if it's more convenient than driving.  She screens call at her desk as she is inundated with cold call and is most accessible via email and cellphone.  After work, she often frequents a regular bar close to the workplace with husband/ boyfriend/ fiance to unwind from a busy day or week. 
She is a white wine drinker and her bartender knows her well and has a good relationship.  She is married or soon-to-be, who still vacations in romantic vacations with husband (or fiancé.)  She doesn’t watch much television given her busy schedule and may watch most of her important programs via DVR, Netflix, or Hulu.  LinkedIn is a great way to get in contact with Becky and you will be hard-pressed to find her on Facebook.  On social media, she is an observer, not engager.  Becky may not be ultra tech savvy but knows her way around the newest iPhone and realizes the client or business must stay current with technology and leans heavily on her partnerships to educate and service those needs.  Becky does not prescribe to a "what we did last year" philosophy.

Sound detailed? It is and should be (and I left some of good stuff out as not to give away all the secrets.)  As a society inundated with all types of stimuli not available to us even 20 years ago, our focuses must be even finer tuned. Time and money are the two most valuable natural resources to a business and choosing to spend time chasing down unqualified consumers are reckless and the best way to ensure your demise. Avoid this rut by spending time getting to know your best customers.

Target MarketSurvey them

Perhaps offer them a reward for their input. Although you should already know everything about them, its always great to ask.  Take notes and ask as many questions as you think will help you know them better.

Write a detailed description

Define sex, age, geography, occupation, race, marital and family status, socioeconomic status psychographics, political affiliations etc. Be as specific as possible

DRILL!

Make sure everyone in your organization, or on your team, knows your "Becky" cold. Its vital that, although hypothetical, everyone knows her like a family member. Its important to review your buyer persona regularly to ensure your actions reflect a focus on reaching her.

ACT

There is nothing worse than planning without action. You can have the most well defined "Becky" or Susan" or "Jim" or "Bob," but if you're not working toward meeting her every time you pick up the phone or leave the office, you're doing yourself a disservice. Your entire marketing efforts should be focused on meeting and building a relationship with him or her.

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