The Beginner’s Guide to Building Buyer Personas

buyer personas

Long gone are the days when we can successfully target our audience based solely on a set of pre-populated demographics. Granted, things like occupation, age, and income do play a vital role in marketing, but it lacks any form of interpersonality. And these days, you won’t get far with your marketing efforts if you aren’t humanizing them at every angle.

When charting your marketing course, the big questions always revolve around who you’re targeting: What do you already know about your customers, and how can you leverage that information to keep them and gain new ones? Getting down to eye level isn’t always an easy task, but developing buyer personas that detail who your customers are on a human level can help answer these questions and make your marketing efforts more effective. Here’s how:

I. Understanding the Buyer Persona Role

Buyer personas are unique descriptions that profile common characteristics of your customers. You can then transform these developed personas into “real” targets of your marketing and sales strategy. Keep in mind these personas are works of fiction, not meant to represent an actual entity, but they should be as realistic as possible if you want them to be valuable.

Your buyer personas will typically include some standard demographic info, but should focus more on human elements, like emotion, sales triggers, specific needs and desires in their industry, and deal killers. Once you start this deep dive discovery, you’ll be able to better tailor your marketing to more likely prospects and boost conversion rates.

II. Why Use Buyer Personas?

What issues and challenges do your customers face, and how does your product help them overcome? A well developed buyer persona can answer that. These profiles are meant to help you visualize the type(s) of customers you want to attract, and help you connect to those customers person to person. Buyer persona can:

  • Help gain and retain more customers
  • Connect with your customers on a personal level
  • Shape and improve your products and services
  • Redirect your marketing efforts in a more successful direction

Simply put, you need to understand your customers better, and buyer personas are a gateway to better customer relations. What problems are they looking to solve? What have their past experiences been with products similar to what you offer? How soon do they need to solve their problem? Knowing a customer’s pain points gives you the golden opportunity to present them with a tonic that will alleviate their gripes and make your company their go-to source. And all these details emerge when you craft buyer personas.

III. How to Create Buyer Personas

There aren’t any hard and fast rules to how a buyer persona should look visually. Likewise, the information to include will solely depend on your business and specific goals. If you aren’t sure how to go about formatting your personas, you can download a free template to get started.

Buyer personas can be as detailed as you like, but try to avoid information overkill if you want  your personas to be effective. Considering too many factors can complicate matters, and  your personas won’t be as valuable to you. You should create a persona for each audience you cater to. Or, if several audiences share similar characteristics, one or two personas should do just fine.

Must-Have Elements

While you will want to include information relevant to your business, most buyer personas contain the following elements:

  • Stage of the sales cycle
  • Decision-maker status
  • Preferred communication method
  • Primary sales triggers
  • Potential holdbacks

Free free to use typical demographic information like age and income, but only if you can combine those factors with emotional, humanized elements like the ones listed above. Other important factors to consider are where your customers look for information (social media, Google, etc), what time(s) of days they need or search for your product, and the main problems you can solve for them.

Gather Data

Using customer data, rather than your own instinct, is a must when creating buyer personas. You already have customer data stored all around you, and here’s how you can tap into it:

Use information already on hand. Start with your CRM: Information like customer lifecycle, net worth, popular products and services, and geographical location are waiting to be discovered and used. Look at past surveys, testimonials, anything that will momentarily place you in your customers’ shoes. See what information is already accessible, then determine if those details could potentially influence buying decisions.

Gain new insight through research. If you have the time and ability to speak with customers one-on-one, bu all means do it. Pay careful attention to how they phrase their answers, as this can lead to additional discoveries from their perspective. If personal interviews aren’t feasible, develop a survey to do the research for you. Services like SurveyMonkey are free to use, plus you can pool the results together for easier analysis.

Never stop collecting data. Every interaction with a customer or prospect is filled with nuggets of wisdom you can use elsewhere, be it a compliment or complaint about their experience or a simple inquiry. When information comes your way, write it down so you can use it later. Even little details that might not be important in the moment can turn into useful insight later.

A Brief Buyer Persona Tip Sheet:

  • Create a persona for every stage of the sales process. Prospects want to feel as though your site or marketing material was created just for them, giving them the answers they’re seeking at any particular moment.
  • To make your personas more personal, consider adding a picture and giving each one a name. This helps humanize the experience, which is what this exercise is all about.
  • Create negative personas. This includes customers who will never buy from you, and customers who do not fall in your target range. This makes it easier to refocus your goals and stop wasting precious time chasing the wrong prospects.

IV. How to Implement Buyer Personas

Once you’re satisfied with the personas you created, test your marketing initiatives to see how well they align with your personas. Ask yourself:

  • Does your marketing address each persona in their stage of the buying process?
  • Are you communicating with your prospects the way they like to be contacted?
  • Have you tailored your message to each persona?
  • Are you using the same terms and phrases your customers use when speaking about your product?

If you answer “no” to any of the above, you’ll have plenty of work afoot. Buyer personas are pointless unless you plan to use them correctly, so track, measure, adjust, and repeat until you get it right.

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