buyer personas

How to create buyer personas

A comprehensive understanding of your target audience is the key to an effective marketing strategy. Customers are the driving force behind your campaign success so you should understand what they need and want from your business. Creating buyer personas is a great way to define your ideal customers. This is how you can create value and develop strong customer relationships with those that matter to your business. So, what are buyer personas, why do you need them and how do you create them?

What are buyer personas?

A buyer persona is a detailed outline of your ideal customer based on research gathered from your internal and external sources. Buyer personas aren’t real people; they’re a fictional representation of the customers who would use your business. Your buyer personas detail the demographics, behaviours, challenges and goals of your target customers. You can assign them a name, age, background, job, education, likes, dislikes, interests or buying habits to make them as detailed as you want.

You can have one core buyer persona or many different personas. It depends on the size of your business, product and services whereby different customers buy products for different reasons. Your personas can be as realistic as you like. Some businesses like to create social profiles for each of their personas so they can refer to a life-like customer. Some design illustrations of the ideal customer to keep them in mind whenever they’re targeting.

Why should you create buyer personas?

Having a general idea of who you’re targeting might seem enough to guide your marketing. However, it leaves margin for error where your team members aren’t fully briefed on who to appeal to. Your email campaign could use messaging that contradicts your event literature as your sales and marketing teams haven’t agreed which customer they’re aimed at.

Buyer personas help to align all of your team to ensure you’re targeting the right individuals consistently across your marketing and sales communications. Your buyer personas will guide everything from your tone of voice, content, graphics, website experience and digital channels. You can tailor each of your offerings to your personas to ensure you meet their needs and deliver value at every stage of the buyer’s journey. This way, you’re always putting your customers first; prioritising their needs over yours as a business.

By creating buyer personas, you can ensure you’re only attracting valuable customers that are qualified leads. You can differentiate easily between customers that don’t intend to use your products and those that genuinely need your services. This significantly increases your likelihood of converting customers and closing sales. Users receive the right information that’s tailored to their needs so you’re always delivering valuable content. This helps you to retain customers for longer.

When should you create buyer personas?

Ideally, you would create buyer personas before developing your marketing and sales strategies. You want to identify the challenges and goals your target customers face so you can develop products and content that solves them. If you’re not at this beginning stage, creating buyer personas is still beneficial.

After creating buyer personas you can compare it with your existing strategy to see if your content and products are aimed at the right audience. If you realise your personas and strategies aren’t aligned, this is the perfect opportunity to amend your approach. Ensure you know which digital channels, tone of voice and interests your target customers use so you can tailor your offering towards them.

You could compare the results that your marketing campaigns have acquired before and after implementing your buyer personas. Did your results improve after providing more tailored content?

How do you create buyer personas?

It’s important to focus on the quality of your buyer personas. You should include as much relevant data as possible in your buyer personas. This ensures you’re targeting customers who would use your products, rather than who you would like to use your products. The quality of your buyer personas is determined by the data and information you can gather about your customers. You shouldn’t try to guess what you think customers want to see as this may be far from the real thing. To help you create your buyer personas, you could use this free HubSpot template.

  • Gather the right data and information

Look at your internal databases of customer information. You can see patterns in your data whether it’s a certain age range, location, favourite product or job title. For B2B, this distinction may not be so obvious. You can use characteristics like industry, size, number of employees, communications and challenges. If you don’t have information or insight into a certain characteristic, behaviour or demographic, don’t include it in your buyer persona. The last thing you want to do is guess. If your business is new and you don’t have much customer data, you could look at your social audience and competitors.

  • Identify challenges and pain points

To provide a tailored solution to your customers, you need to know what you’re solving. You should look at the challenges your customers are facing whether it’s their personal lives (B2C) or the industry they operate in (B2B). Social listening is a great way to find this information. Look at what your audience is saying to you, their peers and your competitors. If you have a database of customer service queries, you can refer to this. There will be patterns between questions that users ask. You can identify what they’re struggling with and if there’s an opportunity to help them.

  • Identify goals and opportunities

Understanding what your audience wants to achieve is valuable. You can ensure your offering gets them there, or at least one step closer. As mentioned before, your customers’ goals can be personal or industry-based depending on their market. Their goals don’t have to be directly related to your product or service. You can use them to guide your content rather than creating a product specifically for that goal. This information can be found by talking to your sales team. They’re the ones that are speaking to customers all the time and know what they’re saying. With all these insights, you can identify the opportunities that will solve your customers’ challenges and help them reach their goals.

  • Create your buyer personas

If you’ve identified patterns and particular groups of customers that share characteristics, you should compile them into one, detailed persona. This is who you will speak to and target. Your persona could have a name, age range, job, location, hobbies, interests, favourite brands, buying behaviour, lifecycle stage, challenges and goals. Make them as detailed as possible with everything you would need to know as a business to be able to target them effectively. Don’t just list demographics or characteristics; this won’t provide insights into opportunities for solving pain points.

With your defined buyer personas, you can now target customers successfully. They help you understand your audience on a deeper level so you can target communications and products they need. This helps you generate qualified leads, convert customers and retain loyal users.

Written by: Laura Greenhalgh
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