A comprehensive image of your customers
If you want to get to know your customers better, to grasp their point of view and to understand their behaviour patterns, you cannot avoid deepening your first impression and seeking a personal dialogue. In addition to preliminary research and internal workshops with the company’s own employees, external interviews should be conducted with actual customers. This is the only way to correctly develop comprehensive persona profiles, i.e. characters that typify the target group. And this is the only way to make the personality and characteristics, convictions and values, needs and pain points, and challenges and goals of the customers visible.
“Personas? Already tried that and didn’t get very far with it”, or perhaps “They were created, but they are not used very much!” Personas have been a source of disappointment for many companies, be it because they were developed without the necessary meticulousness and only from one’s own perspective, or because false assumptions were made, or because interviews with real people were too often done away with. It is seldom sufficient to classify customers according to demographics, size and purchasing potential when you want to communicate with them successfully. Especially subjective and emotional influencing factors such as the situational environment and personal interests move and motivate us, determine our goals and our actions. We can visualize them with the help of personas: an anonymous dataset becomes a real human being.
A powerful tool
Personas can show triggers and motives which can be used to identify specific benefit aspects of what your company offers and discover hidden customer needs. They can also help you make better decisions. For example, it is easier to choose suitable marketing measures, messages and content can be formulated in a more targeted manner, and the risk of scatter losses can be significantly minimised. In addition, customer experiences can be made tangible and potential risks in the customer journey can be uncovered.
Of course, every company focuses intensively on its customers, categorising them according to various criteria, such as industries, area of application, technologies, etc. But who exactly is the person who selects and orders the products? What role does this person play? What challenges do they have to overcome? What is the basis for the decision? Who influences the purchase decision? How does this person get informed about it all?
Descriptions and stories can be used to get to know these ideal customer types better and to put oneself in their shoes. In contrast to still popular, abstract categorisation attempts such as Sinus milieus or lifestyles, persona profiles that have been created correctly help to substantiate the behaviour and motivations of customers and make them more tangible.
The role influences the behaviour
Since B2B purchasing decisions are usually made by several people because of their complexity, several people must also be addressed when initiating business. Therefore, it is important to identify the most important stakeholders when starting the analysis of a target group. The hierarchies and departments involved in the purchasing process are combined in what is known as a buying centre, and various functions are assigned, such as users, buyers, decision-makers, influencers and preventers. This allows 20 to 30 important persons to be identified quickly. For this reason, in a subsequent step the respective importance in the decision-making process is assessed. As a result, the selection is normally limited to three to seven roles for which persona profiles should be created.
Personas are good for everyone
Personas can be a great lever for the development of a common understanding of the customer and consequently support the oft-cited customer orientation in a meaningful way. They help to understand what the customer wants, how the customer ticks and how they need to be addressed. This means that personas can be used in marketing and for communication purposes, but also in product development and innovation, and in sales and service. Anyone who understands personas as a method can use them again and again: as an external mirror in day-to-day business and in existing workflows. Each business unit can add its own insights, thus contributing to a vivid customer image. If the profiles are stored and updated centrally, no information is lost on the long journey from research and development to maintaining them. This contributes to the inspiration of all employees in the company.
How to do it right: Persona profiles need to…
Only specific and concrete information makes the person “tangible”: A credible persona profile provides a visual and descriptive picture along with suitable and diverse background facts.
Developing empathy requires emotional anchors: In order to actually put oneself in the shoes of a persona profile, emotional descriptions of character, values and motivations are needed.
…have an environment.
Without context there is no convincing action: people are influenced in their decisions by situations, circumstances and environment (both professionally and privately).
…have an intention.
People have specific goals: How they deal with and experience what your company has to offer must be comprehensible in the persona profile, because they illustrate the relevance of your offer.
…tell a story.
Identification through storytelling: narratives and short stories give the persona profile a comprehensible structure and enable easier access and deeper understanding.
Assumptions usually generate false perceptions: Persona profiles should always be based on real observations, interviews or tests.
...be based on data.
Personas are only as valuable as the data behind them: Data from market research and the usage behaviour of websites and apps can also be used for personas or to make the personas tangible.
Use memorable statements from the interviews and bring the personas to life for your employees: as concise posters, interactive power points, filmed or animated videos or exciting short stories.
Usage of personas at the company Avinor
Avinor, Norway’s airport operator, entrusted us with the task of improving communication in the business environment, i.e. with professional airline decision-makers, and with developing a strong B2B brand. For this company, the acquisition of new airlines and the establishment of new flight routes are decisive for business development.
First, we wanted to know who Avinor was communicating with. We succeeded in identifying three key roles within airlines that are involved in the allocation of new flight routes: A Route Development team consists of the roles of Data Analyst, Network Planner, and Commercial Director. With the help of extensive preliminary research and video interviews that we conducted going beyond national borders, we were able to clearly identify the wishes and expectations of the target persons, the goals to be achieved and the hurdles in their daily work.
The results left an intensive impression on employees and managers alike, and enabled a new understanding of the customer. With the help of the personas, we not only succeeded in making the complexity of the work and the decision-making processes of their airline customers transparent, but at the same time found completely new ways of communicating with them.
Dare to change in our workshop "Customer Insights" your perspective: from product value to customer value, enabling you to identify potential for successful customer experience management. More information about the workshop If you are interested or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us: call +49 (0)611 . 238 50 10 or by eMail to kontakt(at)diefirma.de.