The key to an effective marketing campaign is to understand the buyer. To do this, brands need to develop distinct buyer profiles and buyer personas, which both sales and marketing teams can reference in targeting their customers.
What's the difference?
The two terms can often be used interchangeably between marketing and sales. According to a survey done by Tony Zambito back in 2015, almost 80% of all businesses consider a buyer persona and a buyer profile to be the same thing. By understanding the differences between the two, you will have a better understanding of your customer.
A buyer persona is a fictional representation of an ideal customer based on market research conducted on your existing clients. Should you not have any customers, a buyer persona would be based on your best fit demographic (Position, Age, Income...) that you would center your product or service around.
A buyer profile is a more precise description (likely a company that you would like to do business with) which include company size, industry, budget, etc...
DifferencesA buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer; a buyer profile represents the type of company that would be a good fit for your product or services. Let's give an example of a buyer persona:
CEO Greg is a 34-year-old Northwestern graduate who founded his company six years ago. He would like to promote his business through social media but does not know how to go about it.
CEO Greg isn't a real person, but a summary of who your company should target and focus their efforts on.
While a buyer persona is a fictional representation of the customer that you'd like to help, a buyer profile enables you to identify which companies you can or cannot help. It comes down to the level of contact, the buyer's persona is a personal representation of the prospect, while the buyer's profile focuses on the prospect's company and industry.
Identifying your ideal buyer profile helps you define which companies you can target for prospects. From company size, the profile aims to narrow down your search for those that are an ideal fit for your services.
An example of a buyer's profile can be a Midwestern firm that specializes in heavy metals and has two thousand workers. It can be a lot more specific than that but creating a buyer profile become more precise than a buyer persona.
To create a buyer persona, you need to consider your customer's characteristics (Job role, experience, motivation and goals). These are used to create a fictional persona 'CEO Greg' who loosely represents many real CEOs of small companies that you're looking to target. A buyer profile, on the other hand, is used to describe a prospect's business.