Are you an “Empty-nester Evelyn” or more of a “Young Professional Pete?” Chances are, you fit into one or more groups used by marketing teams to differentiate and segment messaging called “buyer personas.” We’re all for celebrating the unique in people, but when it comes to marketing, if your messaging is trying to speak to everyone, you’ll likely end up speaking directly to no one.
You need to research and define the similarities of your target audience to create distinct categories, then personify them so that your marketing department or agency can create messaging that resonates with each category.
Buyer personas are detailed sketches of your most likely and/or best customers that help unify messaging across different platforms. Personas illustrate what your target audience values, where they’re likely to be, and what kind of content they take in. They refine and polish your campaigns and branding, ensuring that your money is spent on the right platforms and messages.
Why Do You Need Buyer Personas to Sell Homes?
Home builders and developers aren’t known for having leisure time. The hectic pace of the construction schedule means many builders skip this crucial step. Plus, personas may feel superfluous when you already have a general sense of the age group and income level you’d like to target. Why go to all the trouble of naming your typical buyer’s favorite brand or what they like to do with their free time?
You are likely not trying to sell your homes or condos to everyone. It's not realistic to think the same messaging can reach everyone, and if you don’t tailor your messaging it will probably fall flat.
Most of the home builders and developers Neon Ambition has worked with know that their target market is either a renter, first-, second- or third-time home buyer, or even an empty-nester. The way you would sell to each is likely very different, and your marketing should reflect those differences. Even focusing in on second- or third-time home buyers, this segment could be interested in a $350K home or a $850K home, making them unique from one another. This, in a nutshell, is why we need personas.
Of course, to really dig into the issue, we need to examine some basic psychology and how people connect with a product — and why your marketing team needs human characters to relate to.
Telling the Buyer Story
Great marketing requires a probing look into the psychological drivers that cause customers to convert. No matter how sophisticated and rational we think we are, humans are guided by their emotions, not facts. Our basic drive for human connection means we understand specific characters more deeply than abstract concepts like “middle-aged” or “upper-class.”
The goal of a persona is to flesh out your ideal buyers’ lives — their day-to-day activities, family lives, hobbies and aspirations. In this way, it’s easier for your marketing and sales team to create the right messages and positioning for your product.
Buyer personas also allow you to capitalize on storytelling, a powerful tool of persuasion. And every great story needs fully realized characters to populate its world. These personas will then help your marketing team understand your story’s protagonist(s), for whom your residences will provide a happy ending.
Because of this, personas also inform branding as well, helping you narrow down your development’s name, logo and other high-profile elements that will draw buyers to your property.
Create Consistent Messaging Across All Marketing Assets
Let’s say your email campaigns use fresh, hip lingo that appeals to millennials. But your website embraces more classical, understated elements that would attract and older crowd. You can easily see how the two are at odds and can create buyer confusion.
Humans have a very primal need to fit in. Great marketers use this basic human drive to create content and marketing assets that just feel “right,” communicating that coveted sense of belonging. When messages are inconsistent across platforms, the effect can be jarring. Buyers suddenly wonder if they came to the right place. Is this home development, condo or apartment right for them?
Generating a marketing persona at the very beginning stages of home or development marketing ensures that all team members are working toward a unified goal. The messages conveyed in your website, email campaigns, branded assets, advertisements and social media all seem to belong to the same happy family.
Personas Inform Your Media Buys and Marketing Strategy
Personas also exist for a very practical reason: these “ideal customers” determine strategy, informing your marketing mix. Demographics, relationships, work, purchase patterns and more are tied to behavior, which you can use in targeted marketing campaigns. For example:
- Demographics: Certain groups will naturally be more drawn to one platform over another. Older buyers often respond to emails, while younger audiences are more easily wooed by social media posts and advertising.
- Relationships: Married couples with young children may be attracted to a kid-friendly open house during the day, or sponsorship to a school publication. Empty-nesters may want to attend a wine mixer in the evening. If your persona might find you via word of mouth, you may consider starting a referral program.
- Work: If your ideal persona would want to live close to work, you may want to geo-target the local businesses in the area with your search campaigns. If your ideal persona is expecting a commute, you may consider radio advertisements.
- Purchase Patterns: Tech-savvy personas will do a lot of online research across numerous websites, while others may rely more on their realtor.
How do you create buyer personas?
To create a dynamic buyer persona that informs and excites your marketing team, you’ll use marketing analysis, surveys and interviews to flesh out all that data and create a personified representation of your ideal buyer. Here are a few of the categories we dive into, and the types of questions we ask in each, during a buyer persona interview:
- Where do they currently live?
- Are they renting or already a homeowner?
- Are they male or female?
- What age are they?
- Are they married or single?
- Do they have children or not?
- What is the household income and credit score?
Education and Work:
- What is your persona’s current job title or the role of the main household income provider(s)?
- What level of schooling or type of degree do they have?
- What type of college did they go to?
- Are they on a traditional job track or do they work in a changed industry?
- Do they work part-time, full-time or overtime?
Day in the Life:
- Are they spending more time at home or work?
- Do they work from home?
- What hobbies do they have that require space inside or outside their home?
- What amenities do they need?
- What kind of shops and services do they need?
- Who will be entering, visiting or working in the home regularly?
- Are they outdoorsy types or do they prefer the indoors?
- Do they like to entertain?
- What are the early concerns, questions, issues or life events that are causing them to move out of their current living situation?
Buyer Personas Are Not Actual People
Personas provide an in-depth example of a idealized buyer, but they’re still fictional characters — not actual customers. That may seem obvious, but it makes a difference when you’re marketing to home buyers.
The US Fair Housing Act protects homebuyers from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, income or the presence of children. A persona should not be applied to your sales guidelines, nor should it be understood as the literal embodiment of actual buyers. It’s a collection of experiential and analytical data, grouped together in one fictional character to drive the messaging across all campaigns and platforms.
Now that you understand the philosophy behind personas, it’s time to start putting these ideas to use. Still feeling a little overwhelmed? Give us a shout here at Neon Ambition. We’d love to help you bring your personas to life!