Cutting Edge

Why defining a Buyer Persona is important

BH Telecom & Ultra Tourist case study

Nikola Kožuljević, writting cautionary tales from BiH

22. May 2017

One of the great goals of marketing, and every business actually, is to appease the customer – to identify & recognize customers needs and successfully answer them.

That identification has been a core process of marketing efforts, willingly or not, since forever. To achieve this businesses and marketers utilized forms of market research, interviews, focus groups, experiments, etc.

One of the tactics is a definition of a buyer persona. It is not a complex concept, but it’s often overlooked and ignored. Which in the end result in negative effects for the implemented marketing efforts & overall business.

In this article, I’ll show how marketing campaigns can miss by ignoring the core of the target audience and related buyer persona. I’ll present this with an example of BH Telecom’s, Bosnian & Herzegovinian (BiH) largest telecom and internet provider, and their latest campaign for the prepaid sim card package, Ultra Tourist.

Though, before diving into the empirical example, let me set a short theoretical framework. For those not so familiar with the concept.

What is a buyer persona?

A buyer persona is nothing more than a conceptualization of what would your ideal customer be. Or as HubSpot defines it: a buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. (1) Defining a buyer persona would then be a process within which you define who are your ideal customers, where did they come from, what is their problem, what are they looking for, and so on…  Usually, the more details you’re able to define, the better. Buyer Persona Institute notes that “a buyer persona tells you what prospective customers are thinking and doing as they weigh their options to address a problem that your company resolves. It is much more than a one-dimensional profile of the people you need to influence or a map of their journey. Actionable buyer personas reveal insights about your buyers’ decisions — the specific attitudes, concerns and criteria that drive prospective customers to choose you, your competitor or the status quo.” (2) Adele Revella, from Buyer Persona Institute, defines 5 distinct rings of buying insight, as follows:

 

Adelle Revella’s 5 rings of buying insight
Source: Buyer Persona Institute

Additionally, buyer personas provide tremendous structure and insight for your company. A detailed buyer persona will help you determine where to focus your time, guide product development, and allow for alignment across the organization. As a result, you will be able to attract the most valuable visitors, leads, and customers to your business. (3)

Ultimately, I’d argue that every business does define a sort of vague buyer persona, to an extent that is. Since, it can be assumed that customer satisfaction is embedded into the core of every business. And knowing what you are selling (or marketing) also entails to whom you are selling. For example, selling sporting goods to those who are active in sports, or selling healthy and bio food to those who seek healthy food—should be a raison d’être of those businesses. But again, many businesses fail to conceptualize their ideal customers within details. And that is surely a missed chance. Especially taking into consideration contemporary digital tools, marketing analytical platforms, and the ability to identify, segment and target the perfect customer for your business. By failing to define a detailed buyer persona, these days, businesses are likely to foster ineffectiveness, implement under-delivering campaigns, waste resources and well, miss the target KPIs and ROI. What follows is a case study of BH Telecom and their latest Ultra Tourist campaign which had overlooked some of the buyer persona details. A cautionary tale, that speaks of the important details.

BH Telecom & Ultra Tourist

This article was inspired when I saw an ad from the recent BH Telecom’s Ultra Tourist campaign. It was a big interstitial ad on BiH’s top news website Klix.ba. This is what I saw:

 

At the first instance, I thought: “Cool. They are doing something to help out tourists willing to come and explore the beautiful and adventurous BiH. Great stuff. I’ll definitely remember that if some of my foreign friends inquire about visiting BiH. Which have had happened before.”

And then, professionally induced critical thoughts started to gather and I came to the realization—even though the campaign worked for me, there is a slight chance this will actually work for the prime target audience. Assuming the target audience are the tourists visiting BiH.

Here are couple of reasons why that is the case:

1. The placement

Let me remind you that this ad was placed on the top news website in BiH. Which could seem as a prime ad placement. But definitely not for the target audience. Simply because the entire website is in BHS language. And well, do you know any tourists checking in local language news websites before they arrive?

I’d say the number is low, they will probably google something like: “visiting BiH” or “top places to visit in BiH” or “stuff to do in BiH”. And needless to say, I did such queries. I found out that on the top 10 results (like Insider Monkey’s Blog on BiH, The Crazy Tourist Article, Trip Advisor, Rough Guides on BiH, Balkan Vibe post, Lonely Planet article….) I couldn’t see that ad anywhere. I did revisit those sites for a week, also not a single impression of that ad.

And let me note that these travel sites are majorly included within Google CDN & and have dedicated ad placements – which makes them rather easy to target. By the placement itself or even with keywords.

Conclusively, I’d argue this is a prime example of significant opportunity cost. Wherein the resources are being spend on wrong channels. While the target audience is most likely engaged and searching for information on other places. Actually, not defining thoroughly & failing to project the prospect experience (in this example where the tourists look for destination information) is a buyer persona detail usually excluded from conceptualization.

2. The ad itself. 

Take a good look at that ad. Ignore the previous point, and what you know about BiH and the Ultra brand (if you do know anything about it) and just take a look. Is it obvious from a quick observation that this is connected to the sim cards? I’d likely say it’s a call to discover BiH and have fun there – like a festival or something.

Sure the selfie can point that it has something to do with mobile phones, but its a long shot is it. It is only within 15GB and 5GB you can figure out that is somehow connected to the internet.  Also, there is a small SIM icon on the ‘packages’ but it is barely visible.

With precious seconds of visitors attention, there is no place for ambiguity. None.

Why didn’t they include a clear value proposition on the ad? There is abundant of place for referencing: a SIM card, Mobile internet capabilities, SMS and Phone Calls…. Such small copy changes would definitely make the ad more clear on what is it about and definitely present a value for the tourist.

Hence the problems with this ad, I’d argue, are:

a) it relies too much on the existing knowledge of the Ultra brand and what is actually is. On the other hand, I’d say it’s safe to assume that tourists do not know what is it about and hence will find the whole ad confusing at first.

b) it fails to present clear value to the prospects; i.e. what will the customers gain if the buy this product, would it solve their problems, what are those problems?

Bonus observation. The quality of photoshopped selfie people is rather bad. It should be more streamlined to look natural and integrated. Their appearance those seem detached from the environment. And of course, it is. It’s a part of a stock photo of happy people taking a selfie on the beach. The same photo can be seen here, here and here. Being the biggest Telecom provider in the country surely brings some business perks and resources. Which should be used to build the outreach campaigns well beyond poor design choices and overused stock photos.

3. Landing Page

Honestly, I was really surprised to discover that the ad’s Landing Page is actually in BHS language (here). At that point, I was really wondering how would this help any tourist coming to BiH. And have they spent even an hour thinking about the buyer and user experience in this campaign? I really wonder.

To make matters even worse whole landing page doesn’t have any clue that there could be some English info anywhere.  Something like flags on header or footer or English part of the articles. (Also, why stop on English only? Why not other languages as well?)

Luckily, one of the menu items, if you make yourself go through the menu, does provide an English overview of the product. Which made me wonder, why haven’t they connected that LP with the ad in the first place? Really strange.

Yes, the landing page is built to provide information. But, I cannot help not to wonder: why did they stop at that? Why not create a sharing functionality embedded into the LP? So the tourist can save the info on the sim card easy. Or to take it to a bigger level, develop a contact form within which you can gather the info about your visitor and send personalized info and / reminders to their email inbox directly.

The whole purpose of the landing page should be to serve the intention of the buyer. And in this example, I’d say the mission would be to go beyond providing basic info. But, to attract them and win them over even before they step into BiH.

Conclusion

BH Telecom has implemented a campaign trying to influence tourists visiting BiH to buy their product – a special prepaid sim package. I haven’t noticed this type of campaign before, and I find it endearing and positive. However, with this article, my intention was to show how such campaigns could be improved by design. And that is with incorporating the details of buyer persona into planning. If BH Telecom, actually did that before building this campaign, then I suggest they take a second look at their notes. 🙂

A buyer persona is a simple concept. Its conceptualization, however seemingly unnecessary, is important for all marketing & business efforts. Defining the buyer details should guide the definition of the marketing campaigns, all related elements, and even set the expected results.

As Buyer Persona Institute notes: “The ROI is this simple: When you know how to help buyers evaluate your approach on their own terms, you build a bond of trust that competitors can’t match.”

… and some actionable takeaways:

 

1. When building a business or marketing plan, or even a campaign, try to visualize as many as possible details about your ideal customers.  Details like demographics, languages they speak, position, affinities, interests, hobbies and so on.

2. Additionally, ask yourself: Who are my ideal customers? Where do they come from? What problems do they have and how can I solve them?

3. Once you have these answers combine them and build a buyer persona profile. And commit to it. Let it be your guide for following activities.

4. If you are planning a campaign be sure to go through the buyer journey in detail. Try to roleplay through your campaign as your defined buyer persona. This experience will definitely give you hints where and how to act.

Sources:

(1), (3)  HubSpot, The Definition of a Buyer Persona [in Under 100 Words], link.

(2), (4) Buyer Persona Institute, What is a buyer persona, link.  

Featured image found on JCI Marketing Blog.

 

About the author:   

Nikola Kožuljević 

 Digital Marketing Specialist. Love to spread positive stories from    the Balkans. WM @BalkanMarketingStories.com

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