[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well, the product or service sells itself.” – Peter Drucker How can your company understand hundreds or even thousands of different customers? This is where buyer personas come into play. Buyer personas give your customers a face and enable your content marketing and sales teams to engage in a customized marketing campaign. How do you write a buyer persona? What is a buyer persona template? And how do you create a unique persona that perfectly reflects your target audience? These and many more frequently asked questions will be answered in the following in-depth buyer persona guide.
What is a buyer persona?A buyer persona is a fictional character that represents a segment of your customers. It can also be known as a marketing persona, customer persona, or user persona. A buyer person may also stand for a market segment you are aiming to reach. Simply put, a buyer persona is a generalized archetype that represents a larger target group. In other words, creating a buyer persona helps illustrate the needs, goals, skills, attitudes, and behavior patterns of your customers. You will know exactly who your customers are and how to best approach them. A buyer persona contributes to the bottom line of your business. With buyer personas, you can systematically engage with your highest value customers to deliver exactly what they need. This fact alone will help your sales grow. Additionally, buyer personas help marketing teams publish the most relevant content for the right audience, as they know exactly what their audiences desire, value and appreciate. Therefore, utilizing a marketing buyer persona increases your overall marketing ROI and enables your team to get started on projects faster. Buyer personas can be used across all industries and throughout the product lines of your company. Usually, a business sets up multiple buyer personas according to each persona’s purchasing power, interests, values, or other qualities. At Filestage, we provide an online proofing solution for creative professionals and enterprises of all sizes. So, we needed to create many different buyer personas, including art directors, designers, and filmmakers. These personas have helped us understand different customers as well as the needs and desires of each specific target audience.
What’s the difference between a buyer persona and an ideal customer profile (ICP)?Before delving into the details of how to create a marketing buyer persona, we need to explain the difference between a buyer persona and an ideal customer profile (ICP). While a buyer persona focuses on an individual person, an ideal customer profile describes an entire company. An ideal customer profile includes qualities such as industry, size, revenue, budget, and other economic factors, which you would usually not find inside the profile of a buyer persona.
What is an ideal customer profile (ICP)?Therefore, an ideal customer profile is mainly used in a business-to-business (B2B) and account-based marketing context. If your company works in a B2B environment, an ideal customer profile gives you a good overview of the capabilities and profitability of your company accounts, while buyer personas help you specifically serve individual stakeholders. Whether you work for a business-to-customer (B2C) or B2B company, there are plenty of benefits that can come from developing useful buyer personas and getting to know the needs, wants, and desires of individual customers. Using buyer personas, you can make informed decisions and specifically serve your audience. Moreover, you can enhance your communication plan and achieve better marketing and sales outcomes through the use of buyer personas. They allow you to shift from one-size-fits-all marketing messages to tailored solutions for your target audience, which are much more likely to be effective. Furthermore, your personas will increase the ROI of your content marketing strategy, as they offer a blueprint of how to approach your targets. This minimizes unnecessary advertising spending and increases your ROI.
How do you write a buyer persona?Before you can create compelling buyer personas, you need to make sure that you take a structured approach. Otherwise, you may end up with fictional characters that do not reflect your actual customer base. Therefore, you need to conduct thorough research into your target market’s demographics and then distill your market research data in order to find the most common denominators of your customer base. Based on your findings, you can then start creating your buyer persona – one that contains all of the important characteristics that precisely reflect your audience. The following sections describe each step in detail.
1. Conduct buyer persona researchExtensive customer research is the foundation of your buyer persona. Depending on the scale of your business and the resources available, you might skip one or two steps. However, the more research you undertake, the more precise your buyer persona will be. In the following, we outline suggested research steps in detail.
Talk to your customersTalking to customers is by far the best way to gain meaningful insights. Prepare an interview script with frequently asked questions about values, decision-making, goals, and problems of your audience. Execute these interviews either in person or over the phone. Talk to good as well as bad customers. As painful as this can be, unhappy customers are a great source of new insights. Is your product not quite ready, or are you just new to the market? No problem at all. Just interview potential customers instead. Sometimes people have trouble reflecting on their own behaviors. Use the “5-why-technique” to get to the core of their motivation. The 5-why-technique is a question-asking strategy that allows you to explore the root cause of a problem. By repeating the question “Why?” five times, you can dig deeper to uncover underlying issues. Each answer you receive forms the basis of the next “Why?” question. Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota Industries, developed this technique. Of course, you won’t ask “why” five times in a row to your client. But you get the point. This technique is a thought-provoking impulse for client communication.
Set up a surveyCreate an online customer survey, and distribute it to customers within the target group. Keep the whole survey short and simple, with no more than ten questions. An old rule of thumb in market research says: The longer your survey, the fewer people will take part. You can mix qualitative and quantitative questions in your survey. This means you can include some multiple-choice questions as well as open questions. You can ask a closed question to get the customer’s age, for example. Or, you can ask open questions like: “What pain points do you currently face?” Quantitative questions are easier to analyze but often provide fewer insights. Open questions in contrast, have a higher likelihood of provoking dropouts.
Check your (site) analyticsGood data sources can be found within site analytics. Analytics give you a great overview of typical visitors. You can easily reveal the desires that lead the audience to a site. Where did your visitors come from geographically, what devices did they use, what sites and keywords did they search? Furthermore, you can check tracking data on advertising. This is a great way to see what messages your target group responds to the best. Plus, you can also use internal data, such as sales data, to learn more about your customers.
Research on social media platformsSocial media is a great avenue for finding out more about your customers. The easiest way to get more information about your buyer personas is to use monitoring tools provided by the platforms. These tools show you how your followers are behaving and what content they’re engaging with the most. You can also extend your analytics through social media listening tools such as Hootsuite Insights.
Interview customer support and sales peopleA good starting point for gathering customer data are your team members who interact with customers on a daily basis. They often have a deep understanding of their clients. You can set up personal interviews, group discussions, or even send an internal survey to ask them about the customers. It’s an easy way to gather data for your buyer persona. But be warned: Employees can get stuck in a routine. In some cases, they may not be able to easily identify the real interests and concerns of your target group.
Distill your research dataBefore you use your research data to build buyer personas, you need to take an important step: Distill your data to its core. The best way to do this is by identifying patterns. Filter out the commonalities in your data. The more times an issue repeats in your data, the more important this item is.
Common buyer persona questionsA buyer persona helps you understand your audience. In order to create a good buyer persona, you should cover all of the relevant questions. While some questions may be superficial, others can go into much more detail. The more questions a buyer persona can answer, the easier it is to create focused marketing and sales campaigns. As every small aspect of someone’s life can affect how likely they are to buy your product, you should list as many questions as possible. In the following section, we summarize some of the most important questions that a good buyer persona should be able to answer.
- How old is your buyer persona?
- What is their gender?
- Where does the user persona live?
- What is the religious background of the user persona?
- What type of home did they grow up in and where do they live now?
- What nationality are they?
- Do they rent or own their home?
- Who does the user persona live with in the home?
- What is their relationship status?
- Do they have children? How many? What ages?
- What is the job title of the buyer persona?
- What is their current salary (or company budget)?
- Do they work for a big company? How many people work there?
- Are they in debt? How much?
- Do they overspend regularly?
- Are they often incurring more debt?
- What are their biggest monthly expenses?
- How much disposable income do they have per month?
- How much are they willing to spend on products like yours?
- What would they consider value for money in terms of your product?
- What motivates them?
- What three words would they use to describe themselves?
- What are their key needs?
- How can these needs be met?
- Can your product or service help them meet their needs?
- What areas regarding the product could be improved to better serve this customer?
- What are the main concerns and worries of the user persona?
- What are they looking for in products and services like yours?
- Why would the user persona need to buy your product?
- What is their opinion of your product and company?
2. Create a buyer personaHow do you create a new persona? The strongest buyer personas are based on insights you gather from your existing customer base. After you have distilled all of your research data, you should be able to create your buyer persona and add all information needed. When creating your user persona, structuring and presenting information in an informative and engaging way is a science of its own. Therefore, this section explains in detail what information your buyer persona should contain. Then, the following sections give you advice on how to structure your buyer persona presentations in the most meaningful way.