You’re reading this because the content is designed around making you a better marketer and giving you the tools to succeed. And you stopped reading for a second to take a second bite of your Pop Tart…

Okay, while buyer personas aren’t meant to get that specific or try to make delicious predictions, they’re certainly important for dialing into your audience and knowing what motivates them, so let’s look into what a buyer persona is exactly and how you can utilize it to relate to your customer base. After all, among the many beneficial and profitable contributions inbound marketing has made to the business world, buyer personas are arguably the most influential to your campaign’s success.

What is a Buyer Persona?

Buyer personas are a fictionalized, yet realistic and practical representation of a business’s most important – and typically its most profitable – customer types. Each buyer persona illuminates who customers are, where they are, what problems they face, and how they want (and don’t want) them to be solved.

The Genius of Buyer Personas

At first thought, the concept of buyer personas may seem a bit on ordinary and underwhelming. That is to say, haven’t businesses been using them since forever?

Actually, no, they haven’t. Traditionally – until just a few years ago – businesses segmented their customers into categories, not into personas. They had individual customers, business customers, government customers, and that was about it.

While recognizing the subsets of customers they cater to, there was little (if any) attempt to get into the hearts and heads of these customers and dig into what they want, how they’re feeling, what they’re thinking and where their anxieties come in.

Understanding the Customer’s Role

Here’s where the traditional system of throwing customers into buckets can go wrong: There was little (again, if any) appreciation of the fact that two customers who fall into the same segment may have fundamentally different perspectives and paradigms. Customer A may be highly cost sensitive, whereas Customer B may be extremely risk adverse. And Customer C may not actually be a customer at all, but an influencer who helps convince other customers to make a purchase.

Buyer personas bring all of these differences to light, and allow marketing and sales teams to target their messages for maximum acceptance and impact, which ultimately generates as many qualified leads as possible. As you might expect, this targeting takes place at the delivery level (such as website copy, eBooks, email workflows, phone conversations, etc.), but also at the strategic level (campaign development, product development, brand development, etc).

How to Create a Buyer Persona

So based on the above, how do you go about creating robust, realistic and ultimately profitable buyer personas?

Well, sometimes it means reworking a buyer persona that you got wrong. As that blog post explains, recognizing that you need to head back to the drawing board can be half the battle. The next step is to identify the gaps and start asking the right questions. To help, the above blog highlights 20 questions that will help you develop a succinct buyer persona for your clients. Each question adds to the picture and profile so you can build out relevant content that will engage your prospects.

A Word of Warning Before You Start

Before wrapping up, I’ll leave you with a word of warning: The most important criteria for buyer personas is that they are functional. If they’re too high level, then they’ll be superficial. But if they drill too deep, then they’ll be impenetrable. In both cases, the buyer personas are inapplicable – and therefore useless. Remember, the goal is to qualify your leads by using your buyer personas to create quality content that prospects will happily stroll down your marketing funnel to access.

As such, it’s in your best interest to work with inbound marketing experts who will ensure that you achieve the optimal balance between big picture and granular detail. If you have this expertise in-house or are working with a credible and proven agency partner, then you’re on the right track.