Valerie Wray, co-founder of candle company The 125 Collection, shares tips to help create your buyer persona to increase sales.
When my business partner and I started The 125 Collection three years ago, we were elated about our new product idea. We created soy-based quote candles that were sassy, funny, inspirational and stylish. In our minds, everyone would buy these cool candles, and business would be booming in a matter of weeks.
Although I am a proponent of "thinking big" and setting lofty goals, a goal of "everyone would love these" wasn't exactly a realistic or smart one. Our first year in business was great, as we started right at holiday time. We participated in various flea/craft markets and pop-up shops in New York City, where we met some amazing customers, established business relationships and gained some local buzz.
After the holiday season was over, however, business was slow and extremely quiet. We were barely crawling into our second year, and sales were just high enough to keep us afloat.
We continued getting our products in front of customers at pop-up shops and events until we started seeing a shift in who was buying our product. During the holidays, anyone looking to buy a cool, easy gift under $40 fit our customer profile. However, as time went on, we really had to home in to who wanted our products. We had to get specific, asking ourselves, "What do they do professionally? What are their interests? What do they do for fun? How do they spend their discretionary income?"
Once we identified who this person was, we gave "her" a name and based the majority of our marketing decisions around this persona, our target market. Once we did that, sales became steadier, and we began investing our time and marketing dollars into the lifestyle of our persona. Our candles finally found their niche.
Although we are continuously learning and understanding our target customer, here are some tips that helped us create our buyer persona.
1. Survey your existing customers.
Put together a survey for your current customers, and either email it to them, get them on the phone, or interview them in person at your store or location.
2. Go outside and learn about your customer.
Get to know the habits of your customers. Where does your ideal customer shop? What other brands do they like?
Find out where your customers are from. We are an online company, so we researched where in the country most of our sales were coming from. Are your sales coming from major cities? Small towns? Do you have product variations, and, if so, is there any correlation between where your customers live and which product they are buying?
4. Analyze and create.
Once you have collected all your information, you need to create your persona. A good persona should have the following information: a name, personal interests and professional background, basic demographics, goals, wants and needs, and buying patterns. Also, don't forget a photo of your persona – what do they look like?
Once this persona is created, embed them into everything you do at your business. We introduced our persona to our marketing and PR teams and our illustrators and graphic designers to really push the creative process and give them an understanding of the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors of our ideal customer.
Edited for brevity and clarity by Sammi Caramela.