(Estimated Reading Time: 4 Minutes)
One of the very first tasks we tackle with a new client is an in-depth analysis of their existing customer base. Then we interview a few of them. Then we chat to the sales team, support team and anyone else in the company that has insight to customer characteristics. Then we use the information to create a detailed buyer persona profile.
What is a Buyer Persona?
A buyer persona is a research-based, modeled representation of your ideal buyer detailing (amongst other things) their demographics, professional position, pain points and business challenges, communication and socialising preferences, research resources and processes and more.
Why Create Buyer Personas?
Without a buyer focused approach to marketing it wouldn't matter what tactics you used, the results would be less than desirable. A documented buyer persona helps marketers create content and marketing campaigns that address the very specific needs and interests of your ideal customer. And that is the critical difference between marketing that generates good quality leads and customers for your business and marketing that - well - doesn't.
Buyer personas are not a new concept but they have found renewed status at the hands of highly effective digital marketers using targeting to ensure maximum ROI from their marketing efforts.
So perhaps it's time you too salvaged yours from the store room, dusted them off and give them a beautifully framed place on the boardroom wall. Ok, perhaps not quite so drastic, but it is a good idea!
Let's dive into how to create your buyer personas.
Developing a Buyer Persona to Inform Marketing Strategy
Step 1: Research, Research and More Research
The best buyer personas are based on qualitative and experiential research which means you're going to be working with a lot of data. Dive into your current customer database, your marketing analytics, read up on research reports that are applicable and interview existing, potential and even previous or lost customers to gather the information needed to answer the following:
- Are they male or female?
- How old are they?
- Are they single or married?
- Do they have children?
- Where do they live?
- What is their role and level? Are they management or director?
- Do they directly or indirectly influence buying decisions?
- What are their business and career objectives, needs and concerns?
Behaviours and Preferences
- What channels do they use to research and learn?
- Are they active on social networks? If so, which ones?
- Which sources do they consider to be trustworthy and influential?
Expectations and Objections
- What features and benefits they anticipate from your product or service?
- What they expect during the sales process? Do they prefer to conclude business electronically or face-to-face?
- Whether this is a first time procurement of your type of product or service, or are they looking to change suppliers?
- What would cause them to be reluctant to purchase from you?
Step 2: Document Your Buyer Persona
After the research phase is complete you create a reference document for each buyer persona. Using names like Manager Mike, Receptionist Rose or Sales Stan and including a photo help to 'humanise' your buyer persona.
HubSpot has recently incorporated buyer personas within the marketing software dashboard which is incredibly helpful for marketers. With it, you can:
- create and 'house' your personas online
- add where they are in the buying cycle
- categorise your leads by persona
- target relevant content to specific contacts
The tool will guide you through the process and ask questions about your buyer persona. Doing all the research beforehand and having your document handy will help you get it done in no time. Existing HubSpot customers can upload buyer personas by following this simple tutorial. Once populated, it will look something like this:
Step 3: Share Your Buyer Personas With Colleagues
Buyer personas aren't just for marketers. Companies that reference buyer personas see better overall success and customer satisfaction results. This is due to the fact that everyone from the front line receptionist to sales team and support desk knows precisely who they are dealing with, and how to be most effective in doing so. This was the reason I think a place in the boardroom (or lunchroom) wouldn't go amiss!