Are you trying to attract new customers to your business? Maybe you’ve been using social media and ad campaigns as a magnet to gain attention and increase your sales. However, without a plan of who to attract, many small business owners spend a lot of their time and money paying for clicks and likes by consumers who just aren’t their target customers.
A quick and straightforward marketing strategy is the creation and use of buyer personas. Buyer personas are a handy tool that combines personal buyer data, research, and a little bit of creativity to find solutions to any marketing content challenges a brand may face.
Target Audience Vs Buyer Personas
One of the first things you need to understand is that a buyer persona is a detailed archetype of your target audience. While running your business, maybe you’ve made marketing efforts toward mothers, or millennial entrepreneurs. These all may be within your target audience, but buyer personas are much more specific.
Defining buyer personas: A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. This data can include basic customer demographics, as well as more complex motivations, frustrations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better!
Your buyer persona will be a detailed ‘person’ to whom you can market your product. Rather than marketing toward a bunch of data points, buyer personas humanize your customers. You create a model buyer who is more than a list of their characteristics.
A detailed buyer persona doesn’t just have one interest, they (like all people) are dynamic and pursue a variety of interests. For example, a buyer persona for Patagonia is someone who most likely has a disposable income, is active, cares about quality and nature, and advocates for sustainability and the environment.
Why Create a Buyer Persona?
This is why a buyer persona matters: It helps you to appeal more authentically and personally to your customers, expand your reach, and create lifelong fans who do the marketing for you. A well-made buyer persona is worth the time and effort it takes to create.
Buyer personas ensure your focus is on customer priorities, not your own. Understanding your customers will create brand loyalty and streamline your sales process. If you can include how far along in the marketing funnel a customer is, buyer personas can help you create highly targeted messaging to get them the rest of the way!
Lastly, by knowing the struggles, goals, and overall mindset of your customers, buyer personas can aid you in creating compelling and relevant brand stories that will connect precisely the way you mean to.
Buyer Persona Creation
Filling in your buyer persona will take a bit of work. Which is why we have condensed it into four straightforward steps– so you spend less time theorizing about your customers and more time getting in front of them.
Step 1: Buyer Persona Research
The research phase of creating your own buyer personas involves gathering information on your current and potential customers. There are several avenues of input you should consider when finding your data.
Your sales team will have some of the best pieces of input for you. Don’t have a sales team yet? These team members could be anyone from the employee who answers your phone, the co-worker checking the company inbox or social media, or even the associate who completes transactions. It’s okay if you’re still doing all of that yourself; the important thing is to get information from the people directly interacting with your current customers.
Here are some example questions to ask colleagues who are front-facing with your customers:
- What types of people do you typically meet?
- Are they business owners, parents, college students?
- Why do different types of people make a purchase over others?
- Have they mentioned to you how much they love your brand, and why?
- Have they mentioned any pain points about other businesses or problems in their life?
- What has been the reason for customers deciding against making a purchase?
Sometimes it’s better to get information from the customer themselves. This allows you to learn more about your customers from many points of view. Ideally the best interviewee is one of the following:
- Those who have purchased your product or service at least once, ideally twice or more
- Those who have chosen not to purchase your product or service
- Those who have chosen to buy from your competitors instead
Face to Face
As this source is a customer and has already been through the buying process, they can best explain the reasoning behind their choice. Inquire as to the buyer’s expectations and listen their answers and customer insights they may share. A five-minute personal conversation with a customer may give as much information for your buyer personas as five hours of web-based marketing research.
This approach will assist you in understanding a buyer’s attitude about your business and your competitors. That insight then helps you create content to target those in favor of your brand. It also gives you the chance to make changes to your marketing strategies if you discover there is an individual–an individual who you may consider an ideal customer–that your business does not currently serve satisfactorily.
A simple way of collecting information from your customers is by asking them to complete a short survey. There are several free programs which allow you to create a survey and send a link to interested parties: TypeForm, Google Forms, and Survey Monkey are commonly used.
Remember to keep it short and sweet. Here are some example questions you could ask a buyer:
- What city do you live in?
- Do you have children?
- In what industry do you work?
- Which of the following activities do you enjoy?
- What regular activity do you find stressful?
- Where do you go to learn about a product or service?
- Do you prefer to shop online or offline?
- How important is it to get a good deal?
- How likely are you to purchase from us again?
Be sure to vary your questions: their demographic information, their daily life, their pain points, career goals, social media and shopping preferences. You can think of it as forming a resume about this person starting with a blank canvas.
Once your survey is finished, you can send the link via email or text with a message requesting they complete a short, anonymous survey to help your brand provide better service.
While interviewing your team and customers is an essential start, you will need to combine that information with data you can find using programs on the internet. Some of these tools are Google Analytics, Hubspot, Facebook Insights, Linktree, SEMRush, and MixPanel.
Google Analytics is simple next step because it is free to link to your website and it collects information about how customers found your website. Hubspot is great for analyzing your email marketing campaigns to see who opens, clicks, purchases, or unsubscribes. You can also keep notes of these customers in your CRM portal.
By now, you have multiple perspectives and various inputs for your massive amount data and information. Onto the next step!
Step 2: Compiling Data
You’ve spent the time to research all of your raw data, you have lists of customers with lists of ages, goals, lifestyles, pain points…It’s a lot. You want to break it down into manageable groups. This is what will help you identify buyer personas for your specific needs.
This set includes the basic information of each of your buyers: age, gender, marital status, ethnicity, income, location (city, suburb, countryside) family status, input the level of education for each customer, their job title and industry.
Goals & Challenges
This section should include any motivations your customers mentioned, challenges they have in regard to buying your product, within their homelife, or in their career.
Hobbies & Interests
Travel habits, type and number of pets (if any), common weekend plans and most used social media channels are all pieces of info that you want under this section. Any personality traits you can identify, and how they find their information are great things to add here.
This should be more directly about your product, company, or marketing messages. What solutions do you provide for the buyer’s specific needs? How will they travel through the marketing funnel? To which marketing strategies are they likely to respond positively?
Once you have organized all your data into easy-to-use sections, it’s time to create your very first buyer persona!
Step 3: Build your Buyer Persona
While you have been researching and organizing your information, it’s likely that you’ve started to notice certain patterns within your clientele. You’re going to use those patterns as archetypes to create a ‘real person’ who fits your buyer data.
Give your buyer persona a name. It can be a randomly generated name, or something that is significant to its archetype like Techy Teddy, or Active Allie. Assign your buyer persona a relevant age, education, location, and family status based on your compiled data. Include a job title, what industry they work in, and an income level.
Use those basics to create a short bio about Teddy or Allie. The bio should cover their day-to-day stresses at work and at home, their goals or hopes for the near future, and the main challenges or pain points they regularly face as a buyer.
For example, maybe Allie loves staying ahead of the curve and finding new outdoor activities but struggles to financially support the hobby. Her office job needs her but doesn’t offer adequate compensation. She hasn’t left because she worries about finding another job. Allie has thought about starting her own business but is afraid she won’t have all the necessary tech skills.
Teddy has a lot of disposable income from his remote IT position and enjoys buying multiples of the products he enjoys for his friends to try. He spends time walking his dog but doesn’t get many opportunities for off-line community interaction. He lives far from his parents and worries about their health.
In addition to these sections, you want to include the details you gathered about them as a customer. For example, maybe Teddy uses Facebook groups and Discord to discuss upcoming games and technology, and Allie has a dedicated fitness focused following on Instagram. Teddy places a lot of weight on internet reviews, while Allie likes to try out celebrity endorsed products.
The information you’ve gathered will let you fill in what factors influence your persona’s buying decisions, including cost, values, and what marketing type and tone is likely to resonate with them.
Teddy considers himself well informed, so marketing should be informational without talking down to him. Allie will respond to the newest trends and research, ideally from a fellow enthusiast but is quick to recognize buzzwords and clickbait.
Create your buyer persona with as much detail and creativity as you like. Once you’ve finished one completely, you’re ready for the final step!
Step 4: Build Another
We always recommend making multiple buyer personas based on your research. It’s unlikely that all of your data will point to a single ideal customer. If it does? You likely need more data.
Look at each section of your sales process to see if there are personas you might be missing. If you’re working B2B, you need to have a buyer persona for both the person researching options and a persona for the boss making the final decision.
How many buyer personas a company needs will depend on how many different demographics of ideal customers interact with their business. Most businesses will need at least two buyer personas. A specific product may only have two or three, while wide-reaching companies might need ten or more. Focus on your actual data to ensure you don’t get too creative with your personas.
Utilizing your Buyer Personas
By now, you know that buyer personas are a wealth of information in and of themselves. Use them to get back to the basics when your business world is becoming overly complex. Focus on the needs of your potential customers and what you can do to fulfill those needs.
Your time and effort in making buyer personas pays off here; when crafting your marketing content, blog content, social media content– speak directly toward that person. You know exactly who you’re talking to, and you don’t need to spend time waving your flag at anyone else.
Help your team prepare for discussions with customers. Share buyer personas with your marketing and sales teams to ensure that the content created is aligned with the individuals interacting with your new leads! Determine what any common issues are; at which places are your ideal buyers likely to hesitate and why? Knowledge is truly power here and understanding the challenges they face will ensure you have a solution at the ready.
Maintain your Buyer Personas
It can be tempting to make the effort once and use those buyer personas forever. Unfortunately, that’s not how marketing works, particularly in the digital age. To best make use of this marketing strategy, you will have to keep an eye on any changes to your target customer. Maintain and update your buyer personas with current market data and business goals! You may find an additional buyer persona becomes more relevant than an older one.
For more information about creating buyer personas or conducting marketing research for your small business, reach out to our Sentient Marketing team! We would be happy to consult with you and make your business reach the level of success it deserves.