The Ultimate Guide to Building and Using Buyer Personas
Every customer isn’t the same.
Whether you’re running a brick-and-mortar bakery or an online clothing store, all your customers don’t fit the same mold. They possess different needs and interests.
And your business must cater to those varying desires. To do so, it’s best that your team develop buyer personas to organize the types of customers entering your shop.
“The purpose of creating a buyer persona is to get crystal clear on the individuals who you are marketing to. Until you nail this down, you can’t really be sure that your offerings and your marketing messaging are going to be successful,” states Mary Fernandez, a professional blogger.
Let’s make better business decisions. Use the following five steps to build actionable buyer personas.
1. State Your Goals
With so much happening in your business, it’s easy to forget why you create certain tools. You got a marketing plan, a content strategy, sales sheets, and that random piece of paper on your office floor.
So before you jump into creating a much-needed buyer persona, it’s important that you understand how it relates to your company’s goals. That way, you’re not just crafting something that will never help your team.
When done correctly, buyer personas give you a 360 degree view about the customer. These insights are critical to closing sales, writing email copy, and revamping brand identity.
Actionable buyer personas will align with your overall business strategy. On a granular scale, you may consider mirroring personas based on the sales funnel.
For example, it’s possible to divide one persona into multiple layers. Let’s say Customer X buying concerns change throughout the funnel. In the awareness stage, the customer worries about his need for a new product. While in the comparison stage, the same customer focuses on selecting the right vendor.
This analysis gives your team accurate information on specific buyers as it relates to their willingness to buy your product today. It empowers you to adjust based on the team’s goals and the customer’s expectations.
2. Research Your Audience
Many companies make the mistake of creating their buyer personas prematurely. They decide the objective and then begin developing the persona.
After a few hours (or weeks), teams realize that they don’t know enough about their ideal customers. They understand the basics, like demographics, which only scratches the surface of consumer insights.
To avoid this common mistake, the key is to focus on researching your audience. You want to know why they purchase, how they make buying decisions, and what (or who) influences them.
You can gather this customer information through your analytics dashboard, surveys, focus groups, and blog comments. Jen Havice, a website copywriter, offers another research tool:
“Talking to your existing customers can provide valuable information into their buying habits, what motivates them, and the words they use to describe your product or service. While conducting interviews can be expensive and labor intensive, the answers can be illuminating.”
Researching gives your team the opportunity to truly appreciate your customers. So don’t feel unsettled about gathering too much data. More importantly, you should always uphold ethical standards—never share customers’ data to third parties without their consent.
Without the proper research, your buyer personas become vague descriptions that correlate to every consumer in the industry. Dig deeper by taking your research to the next level.
3. Create the Persona
With all your customer data collected, it’s time to actually create the persona. Assembling the information in a concise, yet appealing format will allow your team to easily extract key insights when questions about a specific buyer arises. So remember to develop your persona to fit the many learning styles of your team members.
Start by giving your persona a name. By doing so, you make this document real for your team. You may want to add a picture of a real customer.
Next, outline the background facts about your buyer, including the age, gender, and job role. Quick bullet points work well here.
Following those details, you want to jot down the nitty gritty of your buyers’ interests, motivations, and behaviors. Give your team the reasoning behind your customers’ habits. If all the information won’t fit, you can attach a brief addendum to your buyer persona.
You’ll also want to collaborate with your team members about what to add to the persona. Each department has a different perspective on how to serve your customers. Therefore, each team can offer insights on the makeup of the buyer.
Ready to get started? For free online persona templates, click here.
4. Integrate the Persona Into Your Strategy
Fusing your buyer persona into your business strategy is a vital step to turning the document into a practical tool. More often than not, marketers get so bogged down by the persona itself that they forget the true purpose for creating it in the first place.
For every department, you can outline how they can benefit from the persona—making it easy for teams to apply the data. For example, customer support reps may use the persona to identify how to best respond to specific customers based on their communication styles.
Other teams may see the persona as a guide to update their procedures and refine their current methods for catering to the customer. Copywriter Jessica Mehring provides the following advice to content marketing teams:
“Go through all the content you have, and look at it through the eyes of your buyer persona. Set aside or rewrite anything that they won’t connect with. Putting ineffective content in the buyer’s path is going to water down your content strategy as a whole – and worse, it might just confuse your target customers.”
Another technique is to design engagement scenarios for your personas. Prepare your team to interact with all your customers in multiple circumstances. No matter the situation, always find innovative ways to use your personas to benefit your business.
5. Evaluate Your Persona
Buyer personas aren’t carved in stone; they are living documents that will adapt to your customers’ lifestyles and behaviors. So make an effort to evaluate your personas once or twice a year.
Evaluation can be as simple as updating your customer’s occupation and goals. Or you may need to do a complete overhaul and start from scratch.
During your evaluation, it’s advised that you consult with senior management. Learn whether the company will be targeting new personas or if it’s time to remove a persona. You also may discover that the customer journey altered, which greatly reflects the buyer’s purchasing habits.
With team input, you can customize the personas in greater detail. Maybe you recently completed customer interviews. You can add these newfound particulars. In the example below, you’ll notice brand names enjoyed by the customer along with the types of technology they use.
There’s no wrong or right way to build or evaluate a buyer persona. The main objective is to develop processes that gives you a realistic view of your customer. Accurate information empowers your team to serve your customers better.
Buyer Personas in Action
Understanding your customers’ lifestyles and product desires helps your team build competitive strategies. Consumer research at your fingertips refines how you approach your audience. Therefore, work with your team to define your goals and build multiple buyer personas to improve your sales funnel.
Shayla Price creates and promotes content. She lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology, and social responsibility. Originally from Louisiana, Shayla champions access to remote work opportunities. Connect with her on Twitter at @shaylaprice.