How to create a buyer persona (with links to useful templates and resources)
Here you'll find the basic techniques any successful organization needs to master to scale its business with Buyer Personas.
Specifically, this is what we'll go through today:
Defining what's a Buyer Persona
Thinking of how many Buyer Personas a business actually needs
Which templates and tools can be used to create a concrete Buyer Persona
The best ways to gather the information you need to define your Buyer Personas
Which are the multiple intended uses of the Buyer Personas
If you're looking for optimizing your marketing efforts as well as your campaigns, cutting costs, and delivering better products, there you go. You're in the right place.
Let's get down to it!
They say that getting to know your target customer inside out is the cornerstone of every marketing strategy. The more you know, the better your chances of developing an offer that truly resonates with your audience's needs and expectations. It's the holy grail of product-market fit!
But how do you get there? 🤔
First and foremost, you need to create a genuine connection with your audience. You need to engage in a conversation that allows you to gain insights into your leads' habits and expectations.
If you succeed in creating this kind of relationship, you'll not only acquire crucial information for your business, but you'll also strengthen your brand and build customer loyalty. As a result, you'll be stimulating recurring purchases (or reducing the likelihood of churn if we're talking about a subscription service).
But there's another easy win here: getting more like-minded customers! And that's going to be our focus today. Basically, thanks to this information, you'll be able to map out the identikit of your ideal buyers. These are the so-called Buyer Personas.
🗝 Here's the key.
Beyond your own customer base, there are lots of people with similar traits and challenges. If you know precisely who you're looking for, they'll be easier to find.
For instance, you'll be able to narrow the target audience of your marketing campaigns and make your ads and messages more effective by talking directly with leads that are very similar to your customers... And, of course, more likely to become your new clients.
So cool 😎
Here's a breakdown of the topics we're going to cover.
- Definition of Buyer Persona and the key benefits of using this construct.
- What's the right amount of Buyer Personas you actually need and how to craft them properly.
- Templates and tools to be used to create a concrete Buyer Persona.
- Different methods to gather the information you need to define your Buyer Personas.
- How to run a successful customer interview.
What's the meaning of Buyer Persona
First, the basics. The marketing textbook definition of Buyer Persona reads that the Buyer Persona is a semi-fictional representation of your company's typical buyer.
Now, let's get down to business and focus on the actual benefits that such a construct provides you and your company.
Semi-fictional? Yes, you heard it.
This means that the Buyer Persona is not a specific individual but the sum of more individuals that share similar traits in terms of gender, age, job, interests, social status, goals, goals, and goals... Mainly, goals 😉
When you craft a Buyer Persona, you want to learn more about this group of people so that you develop the capability to effectively help them.
🤓 Put another way:
By learning about your Buyer Persona, you'll be able to fulfill their expectations through your products and services as well as by properly communicating their value.
Thus, the Buyer Persona is a semi-fictional individual, but their profile must be built as if they were a real person, with specific characteristics and an accurate outline - including name and origin. This is somewhat of an extended identity card. We'll get there shortly.
The best part?
71% of companies that generate higher-than-expected revenues and are able to adequately meet their customers' needs have built and are actively using some clearly identified Buyer Personas. More about this here.
One more reason to keep reading then!
In short, a Buyer Persona is an extended identity card of your typical clients. It'll help you develop the capability to effectively help your target customers by creating a product or service they actually need, and by successfully conveying its value.
How many Buyer Personas you actually need
You may have hundreds or thousands of customers who purchased your product, service, or are thinking about doing so. The challenge here is to group them according to their shared attributes.
Clearly, one Buyer Persona might not be enough. On the other hand, building dozens of profiles can be extremely time-consuming (as well as pointless).
You need to identify the right amount of Buyer Personas. Typically, 3 or 4 profiles represent 90% of a company's customers. So, this is certainly a good approximation of what you might be aiming for.
Also, the Buyer Personas on which you decide to focus will need to be well-documented as well as crafted with a high degree of precision.
Think about it.
Every day we're exposed to something like 4-10K marketing messages. That's huge 🤯
Of course, most of these messages go unnoticed.
And that's why a well-defined Buyer Persona can be your company's best friend. Or better... Your semi-fictional best friend.
Basically, your Buyer Personas will help you surface some solid, actionable criteria that can drive your marketing campaigns and make them truly effective.
It's that good.
You need to create the right amount of Buyer Personas. Normally, 3-4 profiles are enough. Also, be very detailed when it comes to crafting these profiles so as you can actually get the insights you need.
How to create your concrete Buyer Personas
Ever heard of Business Model Canvas, SWOT Analysis, and/or Competitive Analysis?
When it comes to using any of these frameworks, there are many digital or paper templates available online to ease the job.
The same is true of course when dealing with Buyer Personas!
So, here are some templates along with a few helpful tools to create your Buyer Persona.
- A few templates offered by HubSpot.
- Again HubSpot, with their free online tool MakeMyPersona that helps us in the actual creation process.
- Finally, the Buyer Persona templates provided by Hootsuite, Drip (it's a Google Doc), and Alexa (this is a Pdf instead).
📌 And don't forget:
Always act as a pro. In other words, these are predefined, generic templates that are meant to be applicable to different businesses. But every business is unique... So, going through the effort of adapting these standard templates to your use case is always the way to go.
On top of the tool or template that you pick to create your Buyer Persona, you'll also need the actual information needed to populate your profile. Sorry, guessing is not allowed here... That's why in the following sections we'll go through some of the most popular ways to gather this precious data.
Optimize tracking and seek information online
To create a detailed Buyer Persona, you can start with some online searches.
Scan your database and figure out how you can optimize your analytics so as to gather more information about your users and customers.
Also, you can analyze the social networks where your audience is active and understand more about who they are and what they think about your products and services.
Finally, if you have an active lead generation campaign, you can ask for some key information directly in your lead capture forms.
Talk to the right people within your organization
Sometimes to find the answer to your questions, you don't have to look too far... The information you need could be found by simply talking to a few members of your company.
For example, your support agents will certainly be aware of your customers' most common objections and criticisms. Likewise, your sales team will certainly be familiar with what your leads consider "value" and what they're looking for.
Speaking with your colleagues, you can grasp demographic information, goals, and buying preferences of your users and customers, thereby laying the foundation for creating a concrete Buyer Persona.
Get out of the building
To borrow Steve Blank's words, the other thing you can do to capture key information about your Buyer Personas is to "get out of the building".
And it goes without saying...
This is the most effective method. It involves interacting directly with your customers – existing and potential – and getting information straight from them. This is first-hand data!
This can be accomplished through surveys that aim to get feedback on their profiles, their goals, and their pain points.
One effective way to run these surveys is by triggering some on-site messages, such as popups, bars, or slide-outs, based on your customers' behavior. Ideally, you can also offer something in return for their honest feedback. Of course, you can use Boostn to create such on-site messages.
Interviews with customers, over the phone or in person, also work great. In these sessions, you'll have a chance to obtain data about their demographics, their motivations, and their expectations.
Of course, it's not always easy to get a customer's attention: there's always the risk of looking invasive and annoying when asking a person to spend time with you. However, with a few tricks, you can definitely get it done.
First, make it clear that it's not a sales call. You just want to ask some questions. Also, tell them how valuable their feedback is and the impact they can have on your company.
Customers love to be heard and feel that they can drive a product or a service in a direction that matches their needs. In other cases, a gift card can also do the job. Once again, it always depends on your specific situation...
Either way, get ready for your interviews: you need to be very clear on the questions to ask to get what you need, or you'll only waste your time! This is why the next section is entirely dedicated to interviewing your customers.
To create a concrete Buyer Persona, you can use templates or other tools available online. But the most important step is getting the information you need to fill out the profile. For this purpose, you can conduct online searches, interview some key people within your organization, or (even better) talk directly to your customers and users!
Best practices for running customer interviews
As anticipated, let me now spend a couple of words on how to effectively conduct an interview with your customers.
It's true. A 1-on-1 conversation typically requires a significant amount of effort, but don't worry: it'll surely pay off. When you jump on a call or meet a customer in person, you can really get a sense of how they perceive you: your product, your service, your brand.
And it gets better...
You also have the opportunity to capture non-verbal signals that will help you put yourself in your customer's shoes.
So, let's go through how to run a successful interview and reap these benefits.
First, focus on your objective. You need to identify some common trends in your customers' traits.
I know. You would love to get loads of information about your customers, but time is running out already! That's why it's critical to be clear about what to ask. Certainly, you'll need to obtain some general information: gender, age, where they live, who they live with, whether they're married or have children, where they work, what their job roles are...
And like always, not all this is relevant to your specific case. Therefore, just be sure to drop the interview into your context.
Plus, if you can find out some information without asking, do it.
Do your homework 🤓
Then, you'll need to craft a series of questions to uncover the motivations behind the client's choices. In other words, you need to ask some "why" questions.
Finally, you'll be able to move on to the customer's behavioral patterns and buying preferences. Here some typical questions may be:
- What are your hobbies?
- What do you dislike?
- Are you satisfied with your professional life?
- What would you like to improve?
- What do you buy?
- Where do you buy it?
- What do you not buy?
- What is your virtue?
- What is your flaw?
- What are your aspirations?
- What are your pain points?
With the information obtained and the help of the templates we saw in the previous section, now you can finally build your Buyer Persona.
But take this into account.
Not everyone is willing to provide all the explanations you need. That's why it's important to also work on the unspoken, on what we called non-verbal signals earlier. Only in this way you can really understand not only who the client is, but also what they would like to be and why.
It's also very helpful to conduct these interviews with customers, leads, but also with people who know nothing about your company. This way, you can analyze the point of view of people who have no bias due to some prior knowledge of your brand.
How many interviews should you conduct? Good question. It depends, of course.
There is no set number of interviews. The key is to eventually get to a predictive model. When you're clear enough that you can already predict, based on the information you've already obtained, which direction people are going to go, that means you're done.
🥳 Good job!
For an effective interview, think about what you want to accomplish. In this case, defining some common traits of your Buyer Persona. Based on the set goal, do your homework. Find out any information you can acquire on your own about the person you're about to interview, and spend the precious time you have to ask questions that will allow you to find out everything else (of course, these questions need to be pre-planned). And watch out for nonverbal cues!
Bottom line: you really need to work on your Buyer Personas
It should be pretty clear by now. Buyer Personas are crucial to any business. This is why it's worth investing some time into this. Plus, they serve multiple purposes. Aligning your company with your ideal buyer profiles will yield benefits from marketing to product, from customer service to sales.
Here's the deal:
In terms of new customer acquisition, they will help you evolve your communication in a way that's more familiar to your ideal buyer.
Moreover, you'll be able to narrow down your audience, reducing exposure to non-targeted customers and thus optimizing your online advertising budget.
Looking at the big picture, creating defined and detailed Buyer Personas helps you develop the products or services you offer based on the customer's point of view, thus adapting them to their actual requirements and expectations.
And all the information you gather while creating your Buyer Personas will also lead you to understand where to focus on in terms of content creation.
Share internally and transparently both the positives and negatives that emerge from these conversations with customers and leads. By doing so, you can work together with your colleagues to tackle any issues that arise and build on the strengths of your business.
Well, all that's left to do now is to start building your Buyer Personas and scaling your business in a smart way! As usual, let me know if you enjoyed this content. And if you have any questions, drop me a line in the comments below!