With the world turning into a virtual global village, businesses of all shapes and sizes are actively looking for ways to engage and connect with their target audience, online and offline. What differentiates successful businesses that click with their audience from those that don’t? Buyer personas.

Buyer personas (a.k.a. customer avatars or user profiles) are simply about building a generalized picture of your ideal customer that your team can easily relate to as a fictional person.

How is this relevant to your business?

Buyer personas help you develop products, services and communications that fit the specific needs of your clients and prospects in your target market. Personas help you talk to them more effectively and connect more deeply.

Now, let’s move to the harder part of the equation – creating buyer personas.

Beenish Piracha, Marketing Communications Specialist for small and medium businesses, has used personas for many of her clients. “As a business owner, you will be relieved to know that building buyer personas is as much about working ‘on’ the business as it is about working ‘in’ the business. And it’s important that you take it seriously.”

Step 1: Schedule your first ‘brainstorm’ session

Small and medium businesses have limited resources and getting around to actually doing things can sometimes take forever if you don’t book a spot in your busy calendar. So, do just that. Lock in some time to create buyer personas internally with members of your team who you believe can add value. This can be your marketing go-to person, your sales guys (who are usually interacting with your customers the most) and/or your technical support staff.

To give yourself and the team a head start, you can use one of HubSpot’s persona templates to jot down every little detail that comes to mind about that customer, from demographics to preferences to concerns.

  • Demographics include things like age, gender, socioeconomic background, income group etc.
  • Preferences can include anything from brands to how they consume information. For example:
    • Do they spend more time on LinkedIn or Instagram?
    • Do they prefer Facebook over Twitter or use both to stay connected?
  • What are their main concerns (pain points) or reasons for using your product or service?

You may find that you have more than one type of ideal customer. In that case, you will need to repeat the steps for each customer ‘type’. However, to gain momentum in early days, try to focus on your single most-profitable or highest-priority ideal customer group.

Step 2: Make a plan and execute it

In your first session, figure out who’s going to be responsible for what, depending on individual strengths and team dynamics. This will help you draft a work plan to craft buyer personas. Make decisions around the key sources of information, including customer database research, online research, and customer interviews.

For persona interview questions, some of the key categories to consider are:

  • The role of the customer within their organization
  • Company and industry information
  • Professional goals
  • Challenges related to the role
  • Personal information like age, education, income group etc.

Step 3: Use (and refine) personas

Make the most of your personas by aligning all your business communications to create personalized experiences for your target audience. From your phone elevator pitch and sales presentations all the way to periodic email marketing messages, make sure whatever you send out there resonates with the personas that you have worked so hard to develop.

Finally, ensure that you refine these personas by revisiting and updating them periodically as the needs of your target market change over time.