When creating your marketing strategy, one of the key things you need is an understanding of your target audience. That’s where buyer personas come in.
Essentially, creating buyer personas is a way to take a really in-depth look at your target audience. By having that deeper understanding, you can build your marketing strategy around your real customers, tapping into their needs.
Buyer personas can help any business, whether in marketing, sales, customer service, or any other area of your business. Having a thorough understanding of your customer base can help you to tailor your communications to them, leading to better customer acquisition and retention, and a better ROI.
What is a buyer persona?
A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. It’s not the same as picking out your target audience – they need to be full profiles of your actual ideal customers. Here’s an example:
A target audience would be women, aged 25 – 35, with children.
A buyer persona within that target audience is Michelle, a 27-year-old mother of two children.
A fully completed buyer persona includes everything from demographic to career history, and from hobbies to family structure. Once you know this, you can establish your customer’s real pain points and goals, and use this to make your marketing plans really speak to your audience.
The good news is – buyer personas aren’t too difficult to create.
How to create a buyer persona
First, you need to establish how many buyer personas you should create. This is where your target audience comes in. When you’re pitching or selling, what groups of customers do you come across? Some broad examples of how you might group your customers include by gender, age, social class, or occupation.
If you’re operating a B2C business, then think about he customers who buy your services. If your company is B2B then you can still follow the same process – just apply it to the buyers in the companies you’re selling to.
Once you’ve figured out who your ideal target audiences are, you can start to create buyer persona that’s representative of each of those groups. To start with, create buyer personas for your best performing groups – you can add more later.
If you’re already an established business with an active customer base then that’s a great place to start. You can use your existing data to identify trends in your customer base, and use your contacts to gain further information if you need it. If you’re just starting out in business then don’t worry – there are ways and means of conducting research to get the information you require.
Whether you have an existing customer base or not, you’ll need to conduct some interviews to gather information about who your buyer personas really are. Talk to your existing customers and potential customers who haven’t yet engaged with your company. If you’re struggling to recruit interviewees, here are some tips for a better response:
- Be clear that you’re not selling. Most people hate receiving sales calls, and will switch off as soon as you start talking. Be clear from the start that you’re conducting research and would really value their opinions and feedback.
- Use an incentive. Incentives like a free gift or money off your services are a great way to get people to agree to talk to you. An added benefit of this is that by giving money off, you could potentially turn the contact into a sale!
- Don’t make it too difficult. Try and keep your interviews short and to the point – don’t take up too much of people’s time. You could even use a tool like a Google Form and ask people to fill that out in their own time, when it’s convenient for them. This can also be a good option if you’re not completely comfortable with asking personal questions over the phone.
Once you’ve conducted your research and interviews, you’ll have some good raw data about your ideal customers. Now it’s time to start putting your buyer personas together. Remember these should be representative of your target audience groups, so you’ll need to pull together some patterns and trends from your research.
What to include in a buyer persona
Your buyer personas may vary depending on your business. For example, if you’re an e-commerce company you might want to include information about shopping habits or brand affinities. Figure out what information is relevant to you, and you can use this to structure your questioning at the interview stage.
Generally, though, the following information should be included in any buyer persona.
- Demographic including age and gender.
- Home life such as where they live, family structure, and socio-economic background.
- Business background including the industry they work in, their education background, their job role and career level.
- Goals and motivations – what they are aiming for, in business and in life?
- Frustrations and pain points – what’s blocking them from achieving their goals? What do they need to overcome this?
- Media consumption – how do they consume information? Are they heavy Internet users, which social media platforms do they use?
It might seem like a lot of work to create your buyer personas, and you might think you already know who your customers are. But you can’t know that for sure, unless you actually interact with your customer. Conducting interviews and gathering data will make sure that you really do understand your customer, and by doing that you’ll be in a better position to plan your communications. Understanding your customer base really does pay off!
It can be difficult to know where to start when writing your marketing strategy. Our free marketing strategy template on creating a plan that gets results can help. Download now.