The buyer persona is a vague but incredibly important term that can change how you understand and engage with your customers. And as customers who feel heard tend to stay loyal and happy, better buyer engagement can only be a good thing, right?
In this brief guide, we’ll take you through the A to Z of the buyer persona: what it is, how to create one, why it’s important, and what you can do with the results. We promise you that your marketing game will never be the same again.
The buyer persona: what is it?
A very good question. Your buyer persona is essentially a representation of your customers – or, to put it more accurately, a certain section of your customers (depending on the products and services you offer, the size of your business, and your target audience, you’re likely to have anything from two to twenty buyer personas). Each one comes with a set of stats, or basic demographics, and information about how they interact with your organization. This includes motivations, pain points, challenges, and behavior patterns – in short, all the details you need to understand what their needs are and how you can solve them.
The buyer persona is generally your ideal customer, but successful marketing loves a bit of devil’s advocate. To understand your buyers, try looking at things from the other side, too. Creating a “negative buyer persona” (customers you don’t want) or a “prospective buyer persona” (customers you don’t yet have but would like to attract) can help you tailor your product range and marketing even further.
Why is a buyer persona important?
The buyer persona is so important because it helps you understand and better engage with your target audience. This includes existing and prospective buyers – you want to keep the first ones happy and try to snare the second category. In marketing, buyer personas allow you to tailor your content to be more effective. Newsletters, for example, might work for certain buyers but not others, while one demographic might be interested in a new product long before another.
Beyond this, you can also use a buyer persona to optimize processes like product development and customer service. The more you understand what your buyers need and want, the quicker and more effectively you can give it to them. It’s the very definition of what they call “staying in tune” with your audience.
How to create a buyer persona
Now that you’ve understood why the buyer persona is important, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of creating one. First up, you’ll need a template. You might want to divide it into four sections like this:
- Background Information: age, gender, income, job title, family status, career path, lifestyle indicators, characteristics
- Motivations: goals when interacting with your business (pain points that need resolving, purchase aims, and deciding factors)
- Challenges: factors that might lead them away from your offering e.g. cost, delivery time, fear of change, efficiency concerns
- Communication: a simple breakdown of how you can best communicate with this customer to convince them you a) are listening and b) can solve their problem
Each section of the template can be as long as you like – the more detail, the clearer the picture. That said, do try to keep it fairly concise. Your aim is to share this throughout your organization, and you want everyone to be able to internalize it, particularly the final “Communication” section.
So, you’ve got your buyer persona template, but how do you go about filling it in? There’s only one place you’re going to get this information from, and that’s the buyers themselves. It’s time for some good old market research: you need to get out there and talk to your customers.
Buyer persona research can be carried out in several ways, including through online survey providers or forms to fill in on your website. One of the most effective, however, is to conduct telephone or in-person interviews. Reach out to existing or prospective customers through marketing materials or social media networks like Twitter and LinkedIn. Experts suggest offering incentives (a discount on their next purchase, or maybe a gift card), but remember also that customers usually like to be heard. Keep the survey smart and simple, and they should readily agree to participate.
As you go about your research, here are a few top tips to consider:
- For each buyer persona, it’s best to conduct three to five interviews within the same demographic. Once you’ve collected the answers, you can merge them into one template to create a single buyer persona representative of the entire group.
- Throughout your interviews, ask the question “why?” as often as possible. This is crucial when it comes to understanding the motivations behind your buyer persona’s behavior.
- Remember to speak to customers who aren’t so positive about your products or services. Of course, it would be nice if everyone was happy, but we don’t live in a perfect world. Gathering objections or complaints will aid you when it comes to optimizing your processes.
How can I use my buyer persona?
Ideally, everyone involved in your organization should always focus on the buyer persona. The end goal of your business, after all, is to serve that buyer’s needs to maximize your profits. From content marketing gurus to the customer service team, everyone should have a clear idea of whom they’re speaking to – and, importantly, how. A carefully filled-out buyer persona template will guide them through creating content or products and holding conversations to ensure every aspect of the process fits the customer’s needs.
And so, the best thing to do is to share. Send internal emails, give the buyer persona a corner on the company intranet, hold in-depth team sessions to get to know them better. Used well, your buyer persona can refine and rejuvenate the way you approach your business, particularly when it comes to content marketing and customer journey mapping. We don’t know about you, but we’d say that’s not bad work for a fictional character, is it?