If you’re a movie buff, you know each character in the film has specific attributes that stand out to them.
A buyer persona functions in a similar way. It’s a fictional character with unique traits, different interests, likes, and dislikes from others in your business’s story.
Personas give life to your target market so you can deliver personalized experiences and content to reach your ideal customer better.
But how do you create buyer personas for your business?
To help you get started, we’ll cover:
- How a buyer persona helps your small business
- The types of buyer personas
- How to create a buyer persona
- How you can use your buyer persona
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How Does a Buyer Persona Help Your Small Business?
A buyer persona represents your best customer based on:
- What you know about them
- How they use your product or service
These character descriptions mirror your business’s different market segments, with names that match each type of buyer.
A buyer persona isn’t “women 30 years old who make X amount of money” or “students who work two jobs.” These are useful demographic profiles that help you decide who to target and the message to deliver to them —they’re not complete buyer personas.
So, if you run a clothing store, you might have Stylish Simon, Practical Paul, and Penny-Pinching Peter as personas. Each of these characters represents different buyers with similar habits and backgrounds.
Simon might be primarily concerned with looking dapper no matter the cost. Paul wants more functional, long-lasting outfits while Peter only buys when there’s a great sale, which helps when you want to clear out last month’s stock.
But buyer personas are more than just clever names. They help you:
- Attract more buyers through personalized messages
- Get a clearer picture of your customers’ thoughts, feelings, concerns, hopes, expectations, plans, and beliefs
- Organize your audience segments and strengthen your marketing campaigns
Aseem Kishore, CEO of Help Desk Geek says, “Creating buyer personas is an awesome strategy for your marketing and sales strategy. It serves as a map for your marketing plan and it also helps you steer your content in the right direction.”
Martin Luenendonk, CEO at FounderJar agrees: “Buyer personas help determine exact content types, topics, style, tone, and distribution channels. Personas serve as the starting point for marketers refining specific aspects of their content marketing strategies and allow them to see potential areas for improvement and optimization.”
But not everyone in your target market is your preferred customer. You may also encounter negative aka “exclusionary” personas — customers who you don’t want to do business with.
These buyers waste your resources and time with little or no intention of buying.
For example, in your clothing store, you might have personas like Questioning Quaid, who ask any and everything about your product, yet they won’t buy. There’s also Returning Robert, who buys many outfits and returns them just before the return period lapses. He probably wears the clothes too, which makes it hard for you to resell.
Other negative personas are people who are too advanced for your product or service, too expensive to acquire, or college students who only engage with your content for knowledge or research.
Such personas reduce your profitability and interfere with how you serve your ideal buyers. Keep them in mind as you craft your messaging, to discourage them from doing business with you.
What Are the Types of Buyer Personas?
There’s no set universally recognized list of buyer persona types to choose from. Each business is unique, so your buyer personas should also be special to you.
However, Sam Campbell, who runs Reddiquette, a digital marketing blog, says there are three primary types of buyer personas:
- The information seeker: Looks for information to help them make a decision and may research several different options before making a purchase.
- The decision-maker: Makes the final decision about whether to buy a product or service. They may seek input from others, but they’re the ultimate authority when it comes to making a purchase.
- The influencer: Can sway the decision maker one way or another, and their opinion is important to consider when making a purchase. They may have some expertise in the subject matter or may simply be very vocal about their opinions.
How Do You Create a Buyer Persona?
Buyer personas may be hypothetical characters. However, they should represent people in your industry. So, you need reliable sources to collect information about them, including:
- Industry research and knowledge
- Customer research like in-depth interviews, surveys, and focus groups
- Information from customer-facing teams like your account managers or sales representatives
- Direct customer feedback like customer support requests and reviews
- Data from your analytics tools like Google Analytics, customer relationship management (CRM) software, or social media analytics and paid campaigns
When creating your buyer personas, your insights must be based on data and facts, rather than subjective assumptions.
Guessing that your customers are baby boomers when they’re actually Gen-Z, for example, could throw off your marketing campaigns drastically because you wouldn’t target them with similar tactics.
Buyer persona research can be a huge investment, but the data you get from it can save you lots of time, money, and effort in the end.
A buyer persona template comes in handy here as it consolidates all the information about your customer in a visually digestible format.
Follow these steps you need to take to create your own foolproof buyer personas and start driving more sales through your marketing campaigns.
Learn About Your Customers
What makes your customers tick? Having this information can help you build accurate buyer personas and create marketing messages that appeal to them.
Find out personal data about your customer, such as:
- Their age and gender
- Their household income
- Where they live and who they live with
- How they spend their days
- Their role models
- What they do for fun
Work-related questions may include:
- Their highest education level
- The type of company they work for
- Their title or role in the company
- Biggest challenges at the office
- What success looks like to them
- Their career goals
- Biggest pain points or fears
- Most common objections
- Preferred social networks
- How your product or service can help solve their challenges
The information you dig out may vary. For instance, if your product or service involves technology, add questions around your buyer’s tech expertise.
Segment Your Customers
Armed with the concrete data about your customers, the next step is to put them into groups so you can create separate buyer personas for each group you sell to.
For instance, if you offer digital marketing services to businesses, you may encounter younger or up-and-coming small business owners with an interest in digital marketing and older management who prefer offline marketing strategies.
From experience, you probably know both groups respond to different sales approaches.
The younger folk may care more about applying the latest technology while the older managers are more concerned about their bottom line. So, the latter responds better if your pitch emphasizes how digital marketing attracts and retains new customers.
Instead of jumbling both profiles into one, you’ll create two buyer personas based on each profile and tailor your future messaging to the needs of each segment.
You might discover that you have more than two buyer personas. More than 90% of a company’s sales come from three to four personas. Make sure you have accurate and well-defined buyer personas.
Put Your Personas Together
You have data about your customers, and you’ve grouped the customer information into segments.
There’s one more thing to do: create a buyer persona template for your business.
Let’s go back to our example of your digital marketing service.
You’ve gone through the research questions, combined your insights with the data you gathered from interviewing past clients, and now have two buyer personas: Mike Manager and Ethan Entrepreneur.
Each of these buyer personas tells a different story, which makes for accurate targeting. When you split them up, you can analyze which marketing campaigns attract the Mike Manager or Ethan Entrepreneur type of customer.
Here’s a real-world example from Paul Baterina, Sleep Advisor’s chief operating officer:
“We use several buyer personas: the young professional, the family person and the hipster, to better service our customers. Our sleep-related blogs and vlogs are customized to meet the needs and wants of these buyer personas in several aspects: helping customers living fast-paced lifestyles to slow down and rest, helping families to rest well together, and helping young people find sleep accessories that honor their own unique personal styles.”
How Can You Use Your Buyer Personas?
Great job. You’ve created your buyer personas. You can now use them to improve your marketing campaigns by:
- Identifying prospects from your first interaction based on the buyer personas. This way, you can tailor your pitches, marketing assets, and other collateral as closely as possible to your prospects and speak to them in a way they’ll convert.
- Tracking leads in your CRM to nurture them through the marketing funnel. Your CRM lets you glance at your customer list quickly and choose from your established buyer personas so you know the marketing, sales, and communications you need to convert them.
- Drive each persona into a different marketing funnel. You’re creating buyer personas so you can speak to them in a way that would resonate with their specific needs and wants. Use their preferred mode of communication to create customer-specific marketing funnels for easier conversion.
- Find the perfect marketing channel to push customers toward a purchase. Understanding your buyers helps you know the channels that work best to market or advertise to them. For instance, 75% of United States teens aged 13 to 17 use Snapchat, making it a great channel if your buyer personas are below age 20. Combine that with influencer marketing based on the influencers your target customers look up to and what they like doing for fun.
Buyer personas help you understand who your customers are and what they want.
Once you’ve developed your buyer personas, integrate them with your teams so everyone can track the buyer persona data and use it to create effective marketing campaigns.