Creating Buyer Personas that rock

Creating buyer personas that rock are a vital step when putting together a marketing strategy that works. Great personas don’t only help you hone your content offering to reflect your different customer groups but they can also help you develop and perfect your goals and timing so that you get the lead and the sale every time.

Here we take a step-by-step look at how you can create buyer profiles that really make an impact, things to focus on during your research, some great resources available, the common pitfalls and some easy wins on the way.

Why do we need to understand customers in order to create buyer personas?

It’s important to remember that whilst buyer personas are semi-fictitious profiles of your customers, they ultimately represent real customers with their own real needs, aspirations and frustrations.

Understanding who your customers are and what exactly drives them is therefore essential to creating buyer personas that rock because that understanding forms the very foundations of the personas themselves.

After all, the main objective of any business is to provide their customers with a product or service that they need or desire and in order to do this effectively, you will need to know exactly what it is your customers are looking for.

How to research and create your personas

To kickstart the process of creating your buyer personas, you will want to access as much information as you can find, to better understand your clients and why would choose to buy your product and services.

Whilst there are many methodologies available, the easiest step to creating your buyer personas is to start with what you know and then continue from there.

How to create buyer personas if you have an existing client base

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional profile of your ideal customer, so the first buyer persona you should create is the one you know best, your actual customers.

Think about where they came from, what problems they have, the problems you solve and the similarities between them. Perhaps they all have the same type of role in a company or are of a similar age. These similarities will form the general basis of your new fictional buyer persona.

You can do this in a number of ways – from interviews to surveys, from research of individual customers to reading more customer trends.

Good news is that you already have a lot of customer data – even if you think you don’t.

For established businesses, you’ll already have access to a lot of the data you require. This may have been accumulated through focus groups, phone interviews, feedback questionnaires and informal conversations with clients, their testimonials, contacts and employees in other businesses.

Website analytics will also play a large part in providing the necessary data. Information relating to purchasing power and habits, internet use and media consumption can all be acquired through intelligent use of analytical tools like Google Analytics, Hot Jar, Hubspot etc. Here you can also focus on doing basic SEO keyword search for your existing customers.

Don’t forget about consulting internal stakeholders – your very own sales, product development and customer support teams can provide you with insights you cannot get anywhere else.

No existing customers? No problem, market research will help.

For newer businesses, collecting the data may be a little more complex. But fear not, there’s always market research and competitor research to help you make informed assumptions – though it’s important to limit the amount of guesswork as much as possible.

If you are working for a start-up, you can learn a lot from the competition. By studying competitors’ data and their clients’ behaviour, businesses can start to build up the information required for a buyer persona.

Ultimately it’s about building a thorough client profile.

To get the best value out the buyer persona creation process, it’s important to accept that while you might have a set clientele today, there might be a wholly different type of client out there for whom you’re products are perfect but they have never interacted with your business.

To make sure you don’t just create personas that reflect your clients today, it’s therefore important to take a blank canvas approach to creating your personas and start from scratch.

When you start collecting data, it’s important to know what questions you should be asking. A good way of beginning the process is by thinking in broad terms. This means asking general questions that give you an overview of who your potential customers are. It might include topics such as gender, age and geographical location.

From here you can move to asking questions about your potential customers’ professional lives.

  • What is their job role and daily responsibilities?
  • In what industry do they work?
  • What are their daily frustrations?
  • What is their ultimate professional aspiration?

Such questions give you an insight into an area that dictates many aspects of their lives such as work and career and will be equally important whether you are selling lifestyle or professional services.

Finally, it’s pivotal to consider your customers’ personal lives to foster a human connection.

  • What are their passions?
  • How do they spend their free time?
  • What motivates them?
  • What do they aspire to do?
  • What challenges do they face on a daily basis?
  • Where media resources do they regularly use?
  • What changes would they make to their lives?

Think about how your personas look for information or verify their decisions.

The more information you have, the greater the depth and accuracy of your profile and more well-rounded 360 view of a customer you will get.

If you know what places certain customers or contacts spend their time, note it down. If you talk to them directly or do research by following them on social media, make a record of their use of language and tone of voice. If you hear that they struggle with a particular issue, add it to the database.

Perhaps, there is a group of young mums in a certain geographical area you wish to attract or university-educated professionals who share the same thirst for career progression.

Don’t be afraid to create new personas that are slightly different from your others based on how the research data too. After all your personas are going to help set your goals & content strategy, if your personas are researching in different areas (despite having remarkable similarities) you’re going to need to cater for this.

After all, no one persona could accurately represent all of your customers – so it’s useful to look for data that allows you to break your customers into groups.

This is known as customer segmentation and will allow you to focus on groups of customers, their shared needs and aspirations and create solutions and content with them in mind.

Once you have your buyer personas sussed you’ll be able to write content just for them. Provided you’ve sculpted your personas well, all you need to do is to place that content in the areas you know they will go to research their purchasing decisions and voila, you’re on their radar.

What tools are there to help you create your buyer personas?

Fortunately, there are a lot of tools available out there for anyone looking to build rocking buyer personas.

As a quick win, we’ve developed our own Buyer Persona Template which focuses on the key questions to ask of your audience and captures important points such as daily frustrations, ultimate aspirations and keyword research.

But there are some other great tools out there too.

A really useful HubSpot tool to get you started can be found at http://www.makemypersona.com/ which focuses on 19 questions to build a full picture for your ideal client.

Another tool we’ve found really helpful is an integrated customer journey mapping site www.uxpressia.com which allows you to build plans with your buyer personas.

Here’s an example of one of our buyer personas:

Buyer persona

So you know your clients – what’s next?

Once complete, buyer profiles need to be applied to your digital marketing strategy.

In this regard, buyer profiles are useful because they allow you to refine and hone your strategy in order to target the right people, through the right channels, at the best time.

By building personas, you begin to understand what each customer group cares about, what inspires them and what problems they face. In turn, this allows you to provide solutions to these problems, create content that touches them, optimise your web presence and begin efficiently communicating your brand identity.

Have you enjoyed this piece from Report Central?

Please let us know in the comments below what you and your team do to create personas grow your business.

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