You may have heard of a buyer persona – i.e. a description of your “ideal client” as a financial planner or adviser. Yet what about “reverse” buyer personas? There’s a good chance you will not have heard of this before!
It is easy to intuitively grasp how the former might benefit your financial marketing. After all, having a clear idea of your target audience, their characteristics and needs/wants can help you hone your message and connect with them more easily. Reverse buyer personas, however, sound a bit strange and perhaps even pointless – yet this is far from the case.
In short, a reverse (or negative) buyer persona refers to the exact opposite of your buyer personas. That is, it encapsulates the type of client you do not want to attract with your financial marketing.
Essentially, this boils down to identifying who is not the right fit for your business. From there, you can flesh out marketing strategies which avoid them as much as possible. The end result is a reduction in wasted time. After all, none of us wants to spend more time or budget than is necessary on qualifying and nurturing leads which were never appropriate in the first place.
This is especially important for financial planners and advisers, whose “buying process” is comparatively slow – involving an initial enquiry, a face-to-face meeting (free consultation), fact find and so forth. The more you can focus these efforts on people with a higher chance of actually converting, the better.
How many reverse personas do I need?
Similar to your buyer personas, you likely only need 1-5 reverse buyer personas to focus your marketing efforts. Bear in mind that having many of them is likely to dilute your campaigns.
After all, it’s hard for your team to hold dozens of personas in their heads all at one time.
Once you have a set of reverse personas identified you can put them to at least two uses. First of all, they can be very helpful to your paraplanners, administrators and financial planners/advisers in knowing which prospects to avoid and de-prioritise when marketing your business. If you work with a financial marketing agency then these personas can help them too.
Secondly, reverse buyer personas can also help your prospects to qualify themselves before even engaging directly with your business. For instance, suppose a non-suitable prospect arrives at your website and immediately thinks: “Gosh, this looks way out of my budget!” For financial planners and advisers looking to only attract “high net worth” individuals, this could be highly beneficial.
After all, if you want to primarily bring aboard people with £500,000+ of investable assets, you likely do not want any university students getting in touch who barely have £1,000 to their names!
How do I build a reverse buyer persona?
You need to be a bit careful when constructing your negative personas. In particular, it’s important to avoid any impression that you are being discriminatory towards particular groups of people through the exercise. Companies fall into this trap when focusing exclusively on “Protected Characteristics” such as:
- Gender reassignment.
- Marriage and civil partnership.
- Pregnancy and maternity.
- Religion or belief.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with taking demographics into account when constructing your reverse buyer personas. For instance, if you’re offering a tax planning service then it is likely to be of much use to a 0-16-year-old (i.e. someone who almost certainly pays no tax!)! However, you’ll find the whole exercise more worthwhile if you focus instead on problems that need solving – which you can or cannot address.
Let’s take an example of a possible reverse buyer persona which will likely resonate with most financial planners and advisers. Imagine someone whose main financial problem is trying to get out of £5,000-worth of credit card debt.
Such a person will almost certainly not be primarily focused on solving the kinds of problems which financial advisers/planners spend their efforts addressing; i.e. building an investment strategy, saving into a pension or planning their estate so that the next generation can enjoy a more meaningful legacy.
This problem-centric approach to “persona building” can make it much easier for your financial firm to construct a set of “non-ideal clients” to try and avoid. This isn’t about being elitist or unkind to people who need help. You just don’t want to waste your time or theirs by trying to sell something which is not currently useful or timely to either party.
An example reverse persona
Let’s finish with a practical example for a financial advice/planning firm. First of all, let’s take their first buyer persona before flipping it on its head:
Buyer persona 1: John Havelot
John lives within 20 miles of the office and lives with his family – who rely on him for financial sustenance and stability. In the short term he has a mortgage, bills and other essential expenses to pay. In the back of his mind, he is trying to balance these worries with future planning, longer term, for him and his wife – in particular, how will he ensure they have enough money to retire comfortably?
John has a range of assets which he is unsure how to manage wisely. This includes a pension which does not seem to be growing as much as he’d like. He is aware that his family would likely benefit from some kind of financial protection (e.g. life insurance), but does not know where to start.
Reverse persona 1: Tom Havenot
Tom is not resident in the UK, is not British and has no plans to migrate any time soon – so he would not benefit from any of the UK-based financial planning which our team can offer. He has very few financial responsibilities causing him concern such as a pension, an investment portfolio (e.g. in an ISA account) or dependents which rely on his income.
Tom is currently studying at university overseas and has accrued a lot of student debt. He is not worried about this right now, as he’s enjoying a fun social life and will think about how to pay this off later. He has little in the way of personal savings and has no steady income or pension building from his part-time work.