It’s no small feat crafting the right message to reach your customers. But a buyer persona can help you out by revealing who your customer really is. When you build a fully formed picture of that ideal customer, you can send out more targeted marketing messages that resonate better with your audience and ultimately improve those sales figures.

What is a buyer persona?

The buyer persona (or marketing persona) is a fictional character sketch of your ideal customer. The persona blends the experiences of real-life customers along with some informed assumptions about buyer behaviour. By putting these together into one person under a real-life name, your marketing team can get a better understanding of who the buyers are, what they value, and the best way to engage them. You don’t need to stick to just one persona for your company. But keep it to a small handful so you can stay on target.

Why build a buyer persona?

If you want to go fishing, you wouldn’t just walk to any pond outside and throw your line in. Instead, the informed fisherman would do some research about things like the best places to find fish and what they like to eat. I think you can see where I’m going here. Have a better understanding of who your customers are and you’ll get a better idea of how to market to them.

The buyer persona helps you convey a stronger message that inspires them to connect with you and see how your product fits into their lives. It can also help you save advertising dollars because you’ll learn more about their social media habits and the best platforms and times of day to reach them. And it will help you discover some of the most common reasons customers may be hesitant to make a purchase. Put this right into your marketing content so you can address their questions immediately.

Where to find your buyer persona

The most obvious place to start when building your buyer persona is with your previous customers. You probably already know a lot about them based on their past buying behaviour and interactions with your company. Site analytics can say a lot about how they shop on your site as well as what sites they come from and go to. You can also reach out across the hall to your own sales reps and other customer-facing employees to get insights about the kinds of customers they interact with.

To find out even more, consider conducting interviews. Not only will you learn more about the customers’ motivations in detail, you’ll gather valuable quotes that tell their story in their own words. Just know that interviews require quite a bit of legwork and commitment.

If you’d rather go for the pared down version, try surveying your customers instead. Ask them to fill out a form on your website or send a link to a survey in your next newsletter.

What information to gather

Think of yourself as a fiction novel writer crafting your perfect protagonist. Maybe we’re not going to go on some riveting adventure with this character for the next several hundred pages, but we still want to get some idea of who they are and their motivations. You can also use a template to help get started on filling out your buyer persona. Hubspot lays out a pretty comprehensive example here.

Some characteristics to look for:

  • Professional background: Understand their industry and role. Most importantly, get some idea of their salary and budget.
  • Personal background: This includes demographic data about the person’s age and gender as well as education level. You’ll want to know where they live - not just the location but other factors like urban, rural, or suburban environments. Their marital status and whether they have children.
  • Their needs: What are your customer’s challenges? What are they looking to achieve and how can your product help them? What are some reservations they might have with your product? Why might they turn away?
  • Their values as a shopper: How much is your buyer willing to spend? Are they looking for cutting-edge features or value for money? How would you pitch your product to this shopper?
  • And don’t forget to give your persona a name.

 

The buyer persona lets you put yourself into the customer’s shoes so you can do a better job addressing their needs. Learn who your customers are and you’ll likely find yourself with happier customers.

About the author

Kelly Paik is a freelance writer covering science and technology. She hails from San Francisco where she spent some time in the trenches of Silicon Valley, from where she brings that inside perspective as she serves the latest on innovations and updates in the tech industry.