Buyer Personas Help You Evaluate Customer Perceptions (and Your Own)

Had an interesting conversation with the owner of a PR firm the other day. I asked how much business she gets from her website. Her response?

“I don’t use my website for lead generation. PR is personal, and people rely on word of mouth because PR is all about trust.”

I don’t doubt that referrals are important. But I think this PR person has fallen victim to what happens to many of us: our perception of our business is not necessarily the same as our customers’ perceptions of our business.

Sure, she may like to believe that choosing a PR firm should be all about trust, but I’d be willing to bet that someone searching for a PR firm isn’t thinking about grand themes like trust. He or she is probably thinking about concrete things like “I need a press release for my new product.”

Google’s Keyword Planner shows that the term “pr firms boston” receives a decent number of monthly global searches (anywhere from 100-1000 — Google is now cagey like that). Considering that there are only 215 competing web pages that use this exact phrase in the title tag, our trustworthy PR chick is likely missing out on some potential business.

Make sure you don’t fall into this trap. The only way to avoid it? By talking to your customers and finding out how they found you, what their buyer journey was like, and what went into their decision when they decided to hire you. (It’s also smart to talk to lost prospects as well.)

In the biz, this is known as a “buyer persona.” A good buyer persona will ensure that you’re not making silly assumptions about your customers and prospects.

By the way, I do a lot of work with Precision Marketing Group, and creating solid buyer personas is something the team over there does exceptionally well (and, no, they’re not paying me to say this). I wrote a post for them about buyer personas called “Here’s the Last Article You’ll Ever Need on Buyer Personas.” Check it out!

UPDATED 6-14-17

4 replies
  1. Susan
    Susan says:


    What I take away from this is that we should investigate how our clients and prospects identify potential vendors.

    Of the 1,000 monthly searches, I wonder how many are qualified prospects. If not many qualify, then she’s right.

    • robynbradley
      robynbradley says:

      Exactly. Too often we know how WE would look for the services we provide. But we know our business better than anyone. “Regular” people looking for a service or product will likely search in a different way. Even if only 1 percent of those 1000 searches are qualified prospects, that’s still significant business this firm is potentially missing — without doing anything other than having a strong web presence. I’m a firm believer that your website should be making you money. I don’t care what the business is.

  2. Gretje
    Gretje says:

    It’s an easy trap to fall into. You’re right: even if people want to work with vendors they trust (of course they do!), they won’t search using the keywords “trustworthy” and “compassionate.” So we have to provide service specifics on our websites to attract the business, and then keep clients with our special brands of client interaction. Hopefully followed by “word of mouth.”

    • robynbradley
      robynbradley says:

      Indeed — it’s a combination of marketing efforts: word of mouth, referrals, optimized website. The first two are all about trust, and this trust can be infused throughout the site in the form of testimonials, case studies, etc.


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