How well do you know your customers? Would you be able to list off their pain points, trigger points, and buyer’s journey?
That’s why many businesses create buyer personas—it helps them understand who their customers are, what makes them tick, and how their products or services fit into their lives. Buyer personas are there to help you create targeted campaigns that resonate with the right audience. All in all, a buyer persona gives a name and personality to your ideal customer.
If you’re not sure why or how you should begin creating buyer personas, look no further! Here’s everything you need to know about buyer personas, why they’re important to your business, and how to get started.
Why Buyer Personas Are Important
Before jumping into the persona creation process, it’s important to understand why having well-developed personas is important to your marketing strategy in the first place.
If your buyer personas come from accurate research and quality investigation, they’ll be able to help you better understand your current and prospective customers. In order to know how and why your customers buy, you need to first understand who they are as people.
Your customers are so much more than just people with money to spend—they’re parents, plumbers, yoga instructors, worriers, hard-workers, and more. There are so many layers to them that you need to understand before you can effectively reach them. Once you know them inside and out, you’ll be able to create content, messaging, and products and services that meet their unique needs, behaviours, and personalities.
Creating Strong Buyer Personas
The best buyer personas come from extensive market research, as well as information and insights you gather from customers through surveys, questionnaires, interviews, or customer profiles.
Creating personas based on assumptions or your “ideas” about your customers isn’t the best idea. Without legitimate research to support your personas, you could find yourself trying to reach the wrong audience, creating content that won’t actually resonate, and wasting your marketing budget. With the right research that answers the right questions, you’ll be much more prepared to create buyer personas that actually match who your customers are.
Considering Negative Personas
If a buyer persona represents who your ideal customer is, a negative persona is an exact opposite—it’s who you don’t want your customers to be. While this information might seem unnecessary, it helps you know what type of content you shouldn’t create and the type of person you marketing isn’t aimed at.
While there are a number of reasons why you might not want someone as your customer, it’s still important to understand what this type of person might be like and how to better focus on your ideal audience.
How To Create Buyer Personas
As mentioned before, buyer personas are created based off market research, surveys, and interviews that involve your target audience. This research should include current customers, prospective customers, and anyone outside your database of contacts that might still align with your target audience.
Gathering information for buyer personas doesn’t have to be difficult:
- See if you can find any trends from you contact database regarding how customers consume your content.
- Talk to your sales team about any trends they’ve discovered by interacting with your customers—are there any generalizations they can make?
- Interview your customers over the phone, in person, or through online surveys to discover who they are, what they like about your brand, and how they digest the content you produce.
When reaching out to potential interview candidates, there are a few tips that lead to higher response rates:
- First and foremost, make it abundantly clear that it isn’t a sales call. State that your questions are for research purposes only and have nothing to do with your products or services—you just want to get to know who they are.
- Next, do whatever it takes to make it convenient for the interviewee. Let them pick the time and date, remember to send them a reminder, and reschedule if you have to. Make it easy for them to participate and make sure they know you value their time.
- Lastly, if it will help, it might be wise to offer incentives. This gives people a reason to participate, especially those who aren’t currently your customers. Gifts cards or online discounts are an easy way to show you appreciate their time and insights.
If you’re not sure how many people to interview, it’s because there is no right answer. It depends on how well you already know your customers, what information you currently have, and how many personas you plan to create. Starting with three to five interviews per persona is usually a good start. As the interviews go on, you’ll start to see patterns. Once you’re able to predict what they’re going to say, it’s a good indication you’ve talked to enough people.
When it comes down to the questions you ask during your interviews, there are a few different categories you’ll want to cover in order to create a persona that accurately encompasses who your customers are:
- Role: This category covers the role that your interviewee has, such as what his or her job is, what a typical day looks like, and what tools he or she uses at work.
- Company: This category includes questions about your interviewees’ companies, such as what industry they work in and how large their office is.
- Goals: Which goals do the interviewees have and what does success mean to them?
- Challenges: Which difficulties do they face at work and in their personal lives?
- Watering Holes: This is how the interviewees access information, such as which blogs they read or what social networks they use.
- Personal Background: Get to know who they are. Ask if they have kids, if they’re married, where they were educated, and what career paths they’ve taken.
- Shopping Patterns: How do they prefer to shop. Do they shop online? Do they do research before buying? Which recent purchases have they made and why?
Putting It All Together
So you’ve done your research and have a better idea of who your customers are—now it’s time to organize it all into a buyer persona template.
This is when you sit down and find any patterns that arose during the interviews. Perhaps one buyer persona is very obvious, while the others take a bit more digging. Regardless of how tricky it may be, taking this raw data and turning it into a buyer persona is what makes the end product true to your audience.
Once you’ve found your patterns and have a clear idea of who your personas are, it’s time to give them names. This solidifies who they are as customers and helps your business begin to identify them for who they are—actual representations of your customers.
Posted By Author Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist
Co-founder, President and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2 Marketing the only inbound marketing firm in the world that has cracked the code on how to use inbound marketing to generate leads for their clients.