You’ve probably heard the term “buyer persona” before. Maybe you assumed it was just another term for a target market or target audience or maybe you thought it was not relevant to your company. Wrong and wrong. Buyer personas are crucial to any company whether it’s B2B, B2C, B2G, etc. They can help you determine where people spend their time which will help you relate to your customers. In addition, buyer personas can help to guide product development and create alignment across your organization so that you are getting the right visitors, leads and customers. You marketing department needs to know why they are marketing to just as your sales team needs to know who’s buying your products/services.
What are Buyer Personas?
Let’s start with what buyer personas are not:
They are not specific examples of real people. – Buyer personas cannot refer to just one person because they are a combination of generalized and share traits that are common to a number of people.
They are not target markets. You can certainly consult your target markets when developing a buyer persona but that is just one small component.
They are not professional roles. The beauty of buyer personas lies in the fact that you are thinking about what this fictional person does and what their responsibilities are- not just their job title. After all, no one is completely defined by their job.
Now, what are buyer personas? They are fictional people (complete with names and pictures) that represent your customers. Buyer personas are based on real data and some educated speculation based on what you already know about your customers. They include:
1. Common behavior patterns
2. Shared pain points
3. Shared goals, objectives and wishes
4. General demographic and biographic information
5. Not just fluff – buyer personas are based on facts and proven data
Researching Buyer Personas
So now that you know what buyer personas are and what they are not, how do you obtain that real data to start creating these buyer personas? HubSpot, an inbound marketing software, provides a great checklist with some key questions to answer when creating buyer personas:
What is their demographic information?
What is their job and level of seniority?
What does a day in their life look like?
What are their pain points? What do you help them solve?
What do they value most? What are their goals?
Where do they go for information?
What experience are they looking for when seeking out you products or services?
What are their most common objections to your product or service?
Armed with these questions, there are a lot of different places you can go to get the answers. Try interviewing your current customers either one on one, in a focus group, virtually through email/telephone/webcam, or through a survey. Include some additional form fields asking some of these key questions. Talk to your sales department. They are the ones following up and closing the leads, they should have a good idea of the type of people they typically talk to and, subsequently, the answers to some of those questions.
Best Practices for Creating Buyer Personas
When you are creating your buyer personas, it’s important to remember to focus on behaviors. You should be guessing what they will be doing next so you can give them the exact information they want. Always stay one step ahead.
Keep the personas fictional but realistic. Maybe one of your clients is a CEO of a mid-sized business. Don’t create the buyer persona around every specific piece of information you know about this CEO. Rather, use generalities that could apply to a wide range of CEOs. Your buyer persona may be a male CEO who enjoys sports and eating at nice restaurants not your actual CEO client who is a diehard Eagles fan and loves La Beck Fin.
Tell a story with your buyer personas. Don’t just list dry demographic information. Lay out a typical day in the life of this person.
Use pictures to make them more relatable – but again, not a picture of your actual client that you see every Monday for your progress meetings.
Overview: 5 Key Aspects of Buyer Personas
There is a lot that goes into researching and crafting buyer personas for a company However, at the very least, here are the 5 key aspects that all buyer personas should consider:
1. Job and Demographic Information
2. What does a typical day in their life look like?
3. What are their challenges and pain points?
4. Where do they go when they need/want information?
5. What are their common objections to your products/services?
Researching and addressing these key questions should put you in a good place to creating your own buyer personas.
Emmett Hughes is a Thinker at Stratus Interactive in West Chester, PA. In his spare time he enjoys Philadelphia sports teams, collecting rare vinyl and spending time with his friends and family. See all Emmett Hughes's posts.