So many articles are written about buyer personas that it might be overwhelming for the entrepreneurs and marketers who are just starting. For this blog, I have read many recent articles and I will list the most important information here. This way, you know what a buyer persona is, why creating buyer personas is important, how you can create them, and where you can get information without having to read all those different articles.
The definition of a buyer persona
As Bridget Deutz explains, a buyer persona is a fictional character that represents your ideal prospect, lead, or customer. Buyer personas are not customer profiles but a research-based representation. They are most successfully utilized when they encompass goals, behavioral patterns, and needs you see in your customers. A buyer persona lays out the ins and outs of what your customers are really like: their goals, challenges, pain points, common objections to products or services, personal information, demographic information, and other unique attributes.
Why buyer personas matter
Why would you need these buyer personas? Well, they help build and shape your business with your customer’s needs and best interests in mind, Deutz says. Once you have completed buyer personas, you and your team can better understand the motivating factors that influence your customer’s buying decisions.
Within inbound marketing, buyer personas provide insight that can help marketers gain a more thorough understanding of customers, buying behaviors, and where in the buyer’s journey their leads might be. They can shed light on what types of questions prospects are asking, when they are asking them, and what kind of answers you can provide to better nurture them along.
Effective and successful inbound marketing builds its foundation on strong, well-written, relatable content. Buyer personas help shape the content that needs to be created to target these audiences in a powerful and purposeful way.
Jonathan Chan agrees that, regardless of whether you are hoping to optimize or build the customer experience, create better content, or develop more sales, it all starts with understanding your audience. Having a comprehensive understanding of your customers is crucial to meeting your business goals.
Loyalty and trust
Chan focuses on customer loyalty and trust. Customers today just are not as loyal and trusting of businesses as they were a few years ago. With the internet available for everyone to use, it is much easier to research a brand before you ever consider doing business with them. On top of that, social media has given people the power to rethink and share their purchasing choices.
Today’s customers are more unique, diverse, and challenging as the digital market has worked to amplify niche segments of different industries. In other words, if you want to get ahead of the competition, then you will need to know who your customers are.
Learning about the type of people you are interacting with, from their psychological behaviors to their demographics, is crucial to creating an experience that relates directly to them. That is where buyer profiles come in. Simply put, they help you to design an image of your ideal customer, so you are not just trying to appeal to a crowd, but you are focusing on offering a message to a specific type of person.
How to create buyer personas: market insights and research
Buyer personas sound really handy (you are right, even essential) in marketing, but it does seem like much work to create them. Apparently, that is the case, given the vast amounts of articles on this specific topic. I have tried to go through them and sort the process so that you do not miss out on anything important while not having to read everything.
Chan claims that the strongest buyer personas are almost always based on a combination of market insights and research. Small businesses might have one or two personas, whereas larger enterprizes might have dozens. To start off with, when you are defining your buyer personas, you will need to go broad. Once you have those broad groups in mind, you will be able to break them down further.
Examine the details to get to your buyer personas
Chan wants you to assess the following essential elements:
- Age range
- Education level
- Job title
- Income level
- Buying motivations
- Buying concerns
As a translator, I am happy he mentions languages because not that many authors even consider this. I think localization is important!
Where to get this information
Chan suggests the following ways to get the information you need to develop your personas:
- Examine your contacts database for trends about how certain customers and leads consume or find your content.
- Use form fields on your website that can capture important information about your customers, such as where they are located or what their job title is.
- Speak to your sales team and ask them for feedback on the type of customers they are interacting with most often.
- Interview your prospects and customers, either online or in person to determine what they like, and dislike about your product or service.
Tyler Hakes adds the following ways:
- Keyword Research
- Online Communities
- Social Listening
Role – understanding their position
Hakes focuses on roles as a dimension in the research but also considers goals and worries. He says that although they may seem like simple dimensions for defining a person, they turn out to be remarkably flexible and insightful when employed correctly.
The first set of characteristics you want to define regarding your persona, Hakes says, is their role within an organization, within the world, or within a group.
A person’s role can be interpreted to mean many things and this is what makes it powerful according to Hakes. The aspects of this person’s role should be defined as they relate to your specific product, service, or market/industry. How you define each dimension should maintain a lens toward the ultimate business objective.
Understanding a person’s role allows you to start to get inside their head and consider what responsibilities they have. From there, you can start to understand their goals and worries.
Goals – understanding their desires
Hakes urges you not to think of goals in terms of specific metrics or responsibilities placed upon someone within a company. After all, there are also personal goals that many of us carry, which are useful for understanding audiences at a more personal level or for defining a persona within a B2C audience that may not be pursuing professional achievements. Having these goals in mind will give you a strong understanding of what this particular person is interested in achieving and how you can help them by providing relevant content.
Worries – solving their problems
Finally, Hakes finds it useful to consider what worries a specific persona has. What keeps this person up at night? These worries can take many different forms, such as worries about their rank or accomplishments at work or worries about a specific product or service. Think through these worries and create a list of trouble areas for your persona. This will give you much insight into how you can best serve their needs by helping them solve their problems.
Ask many questions
In the end, it boils down to asking many questions. Here are some example questions you can ask. The first ones are from Deutz:
- What is his/her role within the organization and/or family?
- What are his/her personal and/or professional goals?
- How do they prefer to overcome challenges or pain points?
- What challenges do they deal with?
- What motivates them?
Justin Kerley also has some good questions:
- What does your typical day look like?
- What are the biggest challenges you face?
- How is success measured in your role?
- Where do you get your industry information?
- How does my company/product/service fit in?
Local buyer personas
Now, I hope that helps you create the buyer personas that you need for growing your business. If you want to read how some buyer personas fail and why, you can read my blog The Intelligent Blog about Buyer Personas. Have you already created buyer personas? Do you need to write content in a specific foreign language to reach those types of customers? We should talk!