How well do you know your target audience? If you haven’t done the research or interviewed your customers, you may be surprised by what you don’t know. Too many businesses fail to develop a deeper understanding of their customers’ needs. Instead, they make a lot of assumptions about their customers’ problems and how they can solve them. This could be one reason why your marketing is missing the mark.
One of the best ways to ensure your marketing is on track is to create a buyer persona and use it to inform your strategy.
What is a Buyer Persona?
A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your real customers. Also known as a customer persona or marketing persona, this example of a member of your target audience is created from customer insights and website data.
In general, these personas mirror the different market segments of your business. For example, a chiropractor may have marketing personas representing different patient types, such as chronic pain patients, pregnant women, or office workers. Each persona has a name and specific traits as if they were a real person.
Your buyer personas give you insights into what your customers think, feel, and expect from your business. If you better understand each type of customer, you can better craft products and messages that appeal to them and solve their problems.
The Importance of Buyer Personas
When you rely only on assumptions about your customers to inform your business decisions, you may miss the mark more than once. By researching and creating customer personas of your target audience, you achieve a few things:
- You eliminate assumptions. When you conduct the right research, you can be certain about your customers’ true traits and interests. You develop a deeper understanding of your customers’ needs and how to solve them.
- You better inform your marketing strategy. When you understand your customers’ interests and problems, you can create marketing materials that speak to them.
- You improve product development and sales. When you understand what your customers want, you can improve your product or service to meet their needs. And, your team can develop sales strategies centered on your customers.
Creating a buyer persona makes it easier for you to create products and marketing that resonate with your audience. Ultimately, this can improve your sales and help grow your business.
Step 1: Research
Your buyer persona needs to be based on data-driven research to be effective. Don’t create a persona based on opinions and assumptions you have about your customers. Before you build a persona, you’ll want to spend a significant amount of time in the research stage.
Collecting Quantitative Data
This data includes all information about your customer that can be counted or measured. For example, tracking sources of traffic to your website is quantitative. As you research your buyer personas, consider the following sources of quantitative information:
- Website Analytics: This can include sources of traffic, on-page behavior, conversion rates, etc.
- Keyword Research: Discover how your buyers describe what they are looking for so that you can use those words too.
- Social Media Analytics: Together with your website analytics, this can help you identify demographic information such as age, location, language, etc.
- Market Research: Top market research firms often release free reports that may include relevant insights about your target audience.
Collecting Qualitative Data
This data includes more descriptive information about your customer. For example, asking your sales team what objections they hear from potential customers is qualitative. It’s important to tap into the emotional aspects of your customers’ experience, such as their motivations, desires, fears, etc. You can use the following sources to help:
- Surveys and Interviews: Use surveys to get broad information about large groups of your customers. One-on-one interviews with your current customers or prospects can provide even richer details about their individual experiences.
- Industry Insights: Read industry articles about your consumer or reach out to colleagues in other parts of the country who may share insights.
- Team Feedback: Listen to your sales team or other company stakeholders who interact with your customers directly.
- Social Listening: Monitor what your customers are saying online about your company, your competitors, your products, etc.
Step 2: Organize
After conducting your research, you should see similarities in your different customers’ goals and challenges. You can group these similarities to create distinct buyer personas. One way to group your customers by industry or similar job titles. For example, an office supply company may create buyer personas representing government clients, educational institutions, or small businesses.
It’s normal for your business to have more than one buyer persona, but you shouldn’t go overboard in developing too many. We recommend you start by creating personas for the customers you are actively selling to. One to five personas are plenty to start with.
In some cases, it can also be helpful to identify buyer personas that you do not want to sell to. This is called a negative persona or exclusionary persona. These customers waste your time with either no intention to buy or a very low return on investment. When you identify a negative persona, you can avoid marketing messages or platforms specific to them.
Step 3: Create a Story
Each of your buyer personas should paint a complete picture of a specific customer. Typically, these personas will include a name and a drawing or photo representing the fictional customer. You’ll also want to include details like:
- Demographics: Specify the typical age, gender, location, income level, and education of the market segment that this persona represents.
- Psychographics: Provide details about their values or beliefs, fears, pain points, attitudes, goals, and personality traits.
- Lifestyle: Specify hobbies, interests, and professional information for each persona.
- Product Insights: It’s especially helpful to specify why this fictional customer bought your product, where they bought it, how often they buy it, etc. Include what product functions matter to them, how your product impacts their life, and any objections they may have before buying.
- Preferences: Which social media platforms does this customer prefer? Are they online or in-store shoppers? Do they prefer text or email communication?
Together, these detailed characteristics help you picture your ideal customer so that when you create your marketing or social media strategy, you can speak directly to their wants and needs.
Step 4: Put Your Personas to Work
After creating your buyer personas, you should use them to inform your business decisions. They can be a key tool for product development, employee training, marketing, etc.
Use your customer personas to inform your product decisions. When you understand how your customers use your products and what problem they are trying to solve, you can prioritize changes to your offering to fulfill their needs.
Incorporate your buyer personas into your sales or customer service training to help your team build rapport with customers. With tools like your customer personas, your team better understands what your customer is dealing with and is better prepared to address customer concerns.
Use your buyer personas to create targeted and effective marketing materials. Every time you write a promotional email, post on social media, or run a special offer, create it with your specific buyer persona in mind. This will help ensure your message is specific and relatable.
- Identify and prioritize promotional activities that will reach your target customer. For example, choose advertising on Instagram instead of Snapchat if that is where your audience is.
- Use language that feels natural to your target customer. For example, your customer may not understand the industry-specific terms you use every day.
- Use design elements that match your customer’s experiences and preferences. For example, an advertisement for a gym versus a doctor’s office would look very different because the expectations are different.
- Name the problems your customers face and relate to them. You can do this by detailing specific examples of how your product or service can help them. Highlight how your product’s key benefit resolves your customers’ top problem.
- Repurpose your marketing content everywhere your target audience goes. For example, you may send a weekly email to your customers and use the same content to inspire a LinkedIn or Facebook post.
Example of a Buyer Persona
Your buyer persona can be formatted in various ways, but it at least should include the minimum details like the excerpt below.
We created the following marketing persona before a product launch of an options scanner tool for day traders:
James Miller | Birmingham, AL | Male, 31
James is an IT Team Leader making $100,000 a year. He has a Master’s degree, and he and his wife have one child. James started trading options to create a supplemental income, hoping that he might quit his job eventually. He’s connected and befriended several experienced traders and wants to profit as much as they do. He fears blowing up the trading account he’s worked hard to build, but he doesn’t want to miss out on the opportunity for larger profits.
This simple customer persona helped us create targeted digital ads with messaging that spoke directly to the customers’ goals and fears. Identifying the people who benefit from your product or service will improve your marketing messages and lead to more customers.
We’re happy to help you develop your marketing strategy — chat with us for more advice specific to your business.