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4 Steps to Developing Buyer Personas for Your RTO

November 16, 2017

Developing a buyer persona is the most important step you can take towards delivering your messages to the right people.

Why? Consider this scenario.

You’ve spent months organising the next course for your RTO, down to the last detail. You’ve got the right instructors, curated the program, got the materials, found the locations, and advertised your new course everywhere.

You’ve invested a lot of energy, but the responses are not as high as you were expecting.

If this sounds familiar, you may need to look to your buyer personas.

Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your customers, founded on real data and market research about your current clients. For RTOs, these personas are representations of prospective students who are interested in attending your courses and are looking for you in the vast ocean of the internet.

For you to effectively cater to them, it’s important you understand their behaviour, what they like, where they look for information, and identify how you can help them achieve their education goals.

Empower your messages

Having a deep understanding of your buyer persona allows you to focus on developing more effective and targeted messages. Remember that trying to appeal to everyone means that you are essentially reaching no one.

It’s important to identify the specific problems of your students, and address ways in which you could help them.

Save your time and money

Another important outcome from identifying your buyer personas is understanding where and when you should deliver your messages.

Developing relevant content is important, but even more important is the ability to deliver it at the right time and in the right places. Understanding how your personas search for information, or knowing which social media they use the most, are leverage points you can utilise to deliver more timely content to prospective learners.

This will help you not only to deliver the right content in the right format, but it will also help you save time and money by avoiding delivering your messages in virtual places which are not relevant to your personas.

Identifying your Buyer Personas

1. Identify the questions to ask

You need to identify what information will be most relevant to deeply understanding your student personas. Form demographic questions, as well as tailored and specific ones, to help you identify your persona’s needs and problems. Remember that broad questions lead to broad answers, so be as specific as possible.

2. Determine how to search personas

Creating a buyer persona requires a lot of research. Start by interviewing your current students using a survey, or by talking directly with them. There is no perfect number of customers to interview, you just need to collect enough data in order to create trends that will help you to determine your buyer persona.

If you are not yet an RTO and you don’t have customers, don’t worry. You can start by using assumptions which you can refine in the future. Remember that the creation of a buyer persona is an ongoing process that you should plan to revise frequently in order to always be connected with your potential students, and to understand what they want.

3. Collect the data and create trends

Once you have collected all your answers it’s time to play with the data.Collate all your data in one single place, like Microsoft Excel, Google Drive, or Evernote, in order to analyse the answers and create trends based on common pain points, behaviours, and best practices.

4. Use the best practices to transform notes into a complete persona

At long last, it’s time to create your Frankenstein.

The first step is to identify your primary persona. During your research you may have found more than one, which can make it difficult for you to choose which persona best represents your students.

So how do you choose? Usually the primary persona is the one who is the most relevant for your institution, perhaps by generating the most revenue.Next, give your persona a name. A face. Create a real identity by combining the best practices and writing its story.

Once you’ve created their identity, divide the story of your persona into 5 sections:

a) their employment status and demographic information

b) what a day in their life looks like

c) their challenges and pain points

d) where they go to for information

e) common objections to product and services

Remember to focus on the motives behind the behaviours and keep the persona fictitious but realistic.

After taking these steps, your personal buyer persona should now be ready to lead you through the creation of relevant and remarkable content that will help the growth of your RTO.

If you're interested in taking this concept even further, you might consider developing separate learner profiles for the business, or perhaps even combining the two to create a super-persona!

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