Do you know who your business’s buyer personas are? And if so, how much do you know about them?
Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on data and research. They help you focus your time on qualified prospects, guide product development to suit the needs of your target customers and align all work across your organization (from marketing to sales to service).
As a result, you’ll be able to attract high-value visitors, leads, and customers to your business who you’ll be more likely to retain over time.
More specifically, having a deep understanding of your buyer persona(s) is critical to driving content creation, product development, sales follow-up, and really anything that relates to customer acquisition and retention.
WHY EXACTLY ARE BUYER PERSONAS SO IMPORTANT TO YOUR BUSINESS?
Buyer personas help you understand your customers (and prospective customers) better. This makes it easier for you to tailor your content, messaging, product development, and services to meet the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of the members of your target audience.
For example, you may know your target buyers are caregivers, but do you know what their specific needs and interests are? What is the typical background of your ideal buyer? In order to get a full understanding of what makes your best customers tick, it’s critical to develop detailed personas for your business.
The strongest buyer personas are based on market research as well as insights you gather from your actual customer base (through surveys, interviews, etc.).
Depending on your business, you could have as few as one or two personas, or as many as 10 or 20. But if you’re new to personas, start small — you can always develop more personas later if needed.
HOW CAN BUYER PERSONAS BE USED IN MARKETING?
At the most basic level, developing personas allows you to create content and messaging that appeals to your target audience. It also enables you to target or personalize your marketing for different segments of your audience.
For example, instead of sending the same lead nurturing emails to everyone in your database, you can segment by buyer persona and tailor your messaging to what you know about those different personas.
And if you take the time to also create negative personas, you’ll have the added advantage of being able to segment out the “bad apples” from the rest of your contacts, which can help you achieve a lower cost-per-lead and cost-per-customer — and, therefore, see higher sales productivity.
HOW TO CREATE BUYER PERSONAS
Buyer personas can be created through research, surveys, and interviews — all with a mix of customers, prospects, and those outside your contacts database who might align with your target audience.
Here are some practical methods for gathering the information you need to develop personas:
- Look through your contacts database to uncover trends about how certain leads or customers find and consume your content.
- Use form fields that capture important persona information when creating forms to use on your website. For example, if all of your personas vary based on company size, ask each lead for information about company size on your forms.
- Consider your sales team’s feedback on the leads they’re interacting with most. What generalizations can they make about the different types of customers you serve best?
- Interview customers and prospects to discover what they like about your product or service.
Now, how can you use the above research to create your personas?
Once you’ve gone through the research process, you’ll have a lot of meaty, raw data about your potential and current customers. But what do you do with it? How do you distill all of it so it’s easy for everyone to understand all the information you’ve gathered?
The next step is to use your research to identify patterns and commonalities from the answers to your interview questions, develop at least one primary persona, and share that persona with the rest of the company.
Here’s how to work through the steps involved in creating your buyer personas in more detail.
1. FILL IN YOUR PERSONA’S BASIC DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION.
Ask demographic-based questions over the phone, in person, or through online surveys. (Some people are more comfortable disclosing personal information like this.)
It’s also helpful to include some descriptive buzzwords and mannerisms of your persona that you may have picked up on during your conversations to make it easier for people on your team to identify certain personas when they’re talking to prospects.
2. SHARE WHAT YOU’VE LEARNED ABOUT YOUR PERSONA’S MOTIVATIONS.
This is where you’ll distill the information you learned from asking “why” during those interviews. What keeps your persona up at night? Who do they want to be? Most importantly, tie that all together by telling people how your company can help them.
3. HELP YOUR SALES TEAM PREPARE FOR CONVERSATIONS WITH YOUR PERSONA.
Include some real quotes from your interviews that exemplify what your personas are concerned about, who they are, and what they want. Then create a list of the objections they might raise so your sales team is prepared to address those during their conversations with prospects.
4. CRAFT MESSAGING FOR YOUR PERSONA.
Tell people how to talk about your products/ services with your persona. This includes the nitty-gritty vernacular you should use, as well as a more general elevator pitch that positions your solution in a way that resonates with your persona.
This will help you ensure everyone in your company is speaking the same language when they’re having conversations with leads and customers.
HOW TO FIND INTERVIEWEES FOR RESEARCHING BUYER PERSONAS
One of the most critical steps to establishing your buyer persona(s) is finding some people to speak with to suss out, well, who your buyer persona is.
That means you’ll have to conduct some interviews to get to know what drives your target audience. But how do you find those interviewees? There are a few sources you should tap into:
1. USE YOUR CURRENT CUSTOMERS.
Your existing customer base is the perfect place to start with your interviews because they’ve already purchased your product and engaged with your company. At least some of them are likely to exemplify your target persona(s).
Don’t just talk to people who love your product and want to spend an hour gushing about you (as good as that feels). Customers who are unhappy with your product will show other patterns that will help you form a solid understanding of your personas.
For example, you might find that some of your less happy customers have bigger teams and need greater collaboration functionality from your product. Or, you may find they find your product too technical and difficult to use. In both cases, you learn something about your product and what your customers’ challenges are.
Another benefit to interviewing current customers is that you may not need to offer them an incentive (e.g. gift card) to do so. Customers often like being heard — interviewing them gives them a chance to tell you about their world, their challenges, and what they think of your product.
Customers also like to have an impact on the products they use. So, as you involve them in interviews like this, you may find they become even more loyal to your company. When you reach out to customers, be clear that your goal is to get their feedback, and that their feedback is highly valued by your team.
2. USE YOUR PROSPECTS.
Be sure to interview people who have not purchased your product and don’t know much about your brand, too. Your current prospects and leads are a great option here because you already have their contact information.
Use the data you do have about them (i.e. anything you’ve collected through lead generation forms or website analytics) to figure out who might fit into your target personas.
3. USE YOUR REFERRALS.
You’ll probably also need to rely on some referrals to talk to people who may fit into your target personas, particularly if you’re heading into new markets or don’t have any leads or customers yet.
Use your network — such as your coworkers, existing customers, and social media contacts — to find people you’d like to interview and be introduced to. It may be tough to get a large volume of people this way, but you’ll likely get some very high-quality interviews out of it.
If you don’t know where to start, try searching on LinkedIn for people who may fit into your target personas and see which results have any connections in common with you. Then, reach out to your common connections for introductions.
BUYER PERSONA EXAMPLES
Let’s go over some examples of completed buyer personas to get a better understanding of what they look like.
B2B BUYER PERSONA EXAMPLE
The image below is a B2B buyer persona for someone who works in HR. The persona paints a clear picture of the target customer’s struggles and how the business can best meet those needs which, in this case, is HR recruiting tools that streamline processes, make recruiting easier, and help HR expertly manage their overall job duties.
B2C BUYER PERSONA EXAMPLE
The image below is a B2C buyer persona for a music streaming service.
Based on this persona, a streaming service would want to ensure that it has a mobile app that is user-friendly, sends new music notifications, and makes it easy for users to discover new music related to their interests and share content with friends.