Digging Into Buyer Personas, Planting Seeds of Marketing Success

I recently came across rather by accident the website for The Soil Association, the leading organic farming advocacy organization in the UK.

© Soil Association (UK)

© Soil Association (UK)

The design is indeed very clean and well done.  But even more importantly, the content of The Soil Association website impressed me for really digging into identifying its numerous buyer personas and building a site serving all these buyer personas effectively…

David Meerman Scott discussed buyer personas in detail in his must-read book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR, including interviewing Adele Revella, the leading expert on buyer personas. In fact, Adele and David co-taught the Pragmatic Marketing Effective Marketing Campaigns training class I took in 2007.

“A buyer persona profile is a short biography of the typical customer, not just a job description but a person description,” says Revella, who has been using buyer personas to market technology products for more than 20 years. “The buyer persona profile gives you a chance to truly empathize with target buyers, to step out of your role as someone who wants to promote a product and see, through your buyers’ eyes, the circumstances that drive their decision process. The buyer persona profile includes information on the typical buyer’s background, daily activities, and current solutions for their problems. The more experience you have in your market, the more obvious the personas become.” (New Rules of Marketing and PR, p. 119-120)

With that in mind, a cursory look at The Soil Association’s website reveals the many different buyer personas (or, more accurately in the case of a non-profit, personas of groups we want to “buy in” to the charity’s goals) and the charity’s activites serving that group, including:

  • General public (education, public alerts to health issues, advocacy withion local government, membership and donation drives)
  • Farmers and growers interested in “going organic” successfully (helping farmers earn “certified organic” status)
  • Retailers of organic produce and meats (business and supplier advice)
  • Schools (Educating kids on organic farming, working with teachers and faculty, organic farm field trips)

These diverse buyer personas are well served by The Soil Association’s new website with detailed content reaching each persona. Notably, the links are based on problems/issues the organization actively addresses, which, as noted above, vary significantly between personas. Even better, the website offers a number of related links of similar interest to engage each buyer persona. This should translate to a significant number of clicks and active engagement with visitors.

As David notes in his book, “once the prospects reach those [special interest] pages, you have the opportunity to communicate your expertise in solving these problems – building empathy in the process – and to move customers further along the buying cycle.” (p.154).

I suggest the building of empathy is even more critical for a non-profit, which is dependent on a concerned public to support its efforts. And, given its apparent, um, organic effort to understand its diverse buyer personas, The Soil Association’s website should serve the charity well in moving farmers, retailers, consumers, school kids and local citizens further along the “buy-in” cycle and actively supporting its laudable efforts — efforts which I would certainly like to see rise dramatically on our side of the pond as well.

If you liked this article, you may also like:

“Everything I Really Need to Know About Product Marketing I Learned in Elementary School”

The Impact of Imagination Level on Product Marketers and Managers

The Product Marketing Manager as a Plate Spinner Extraordinaire

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3 thoughts on “Digging Into Buyer Personas, Planting Seeds of Marketing Success

  1. Hi Mike: Thanks for writing so effectively about my favorite subject! I’m glad to have found your blog and will be watching for more examples of marketing that really helps buyers to find answers to their problems. I have a lot of empathy with buyers — as marketers we frequently fall short of helping them to first find our great products and services and then proving that we can be trusted. I’m happy to see you carrying this important message to new markets.

  2. Hi Adele. Very glad to receive your comments, and greetings to you from one of your many happy Pragmatic Marketing alumni! I discovered your Buyer Persona Blog — http://www.buyerpersona.com/ — when writing this blog post. I have a lot of back-reading there to do!

    One recent link that stood out to me was “Marketers Need to Get Proactive” — http://www.buyerpersona.com/2008/10/marketers-need-to-get-proactive.html. I posted a comment there.

    Thanks again, Adele!

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