Do you ever feel like an advertisement was specifically made with you in mind?
To some capacity, it probably was. Every good marketer or advertiser has a specific buyer in mind when launching a campaign—be it a twenty-something-year-old living in the city, or a retiree living in the quiet suburbs.
Buyer personas help you to achieve a granular level of targeting and to, most importantly, think from your customers’ shoes. Let’s take a look at how buyer personas work, and why it’s important.
What is a buyer persona?
Put simply, a buyer persona is a fictional representation of your target customer.
There is no universal standard for a buyer persona. Rather, you’ll want to make sure that your persona captures the most important details about your customer like their demographics, preferences, motivations, goals, and spending habits (among others).
In general, the more detailed the persona, the better. After all, your personas are meant to guide your messaging, products, and/or services moving forward. So, you’ll want to go beyond basic demographics and include highly researched information about what makes your customers tick. When creating personas, many marketers will even include a fictional name and photo to further humanize their personas.
Ultimately, a buyer persona should help your business answer the following questions:
- Where is your buyer located?
- What problems is he or she looking to solve?
- What type of lifestyle (including hobbies, duties at work and home, etc.) does he or she maintain?
- What values, interests, and/or personality traits inspire your buyer's shopping habits?
- How does he or she engage with the typical sales process?
Why buyer personas are important
Buyer personas help your business remain focused on your target customers. This, in turn, allows you to provide them with the most relevant solutions and messaging. Moreover, personas help you to:
- Better empathize with your customers and understand them at a deeper level
- Improve inbound marketing efforts by identifying key interests
- Improve customer service by revealing ways to offer more personalized support
- Keep all team members aligned on the right pitch and journey for each customer segment
Example of a buyer persona
Let’s say that you’re working for a skincare company that appeals to women ages 18 to 45. We know that the preferences of a 45-year-old woman are likely different than that of an 18-year-old’s.
So, you might create two different personas like “College Caroline” and “Midlife Margaret” to track and understand these two segments:
- “College Caroline” is a college-aged woman around 19 years old who juggles school and working part-time as a barista. She values her health and is concerned about her skincare routine, but is price-conscious and searching for an easy routine to align with her busy college lifestyle.
- “Midlife Margaret” is a middle-aged woman, 45 years old, who is settled in her career as a marketing executive. She values health and is concerned about her skincare routine, but is not driven by price or ease of routine. On the contrary, she is looking for the highest quality product that aligns with her skincare goals and has both the time and money to invest into her skincare routine.
These two personas show us different needs, goals, pain points, and opportunities that your company can harp on. For example, a campaign for “College Caroline” may include price comparisons and messaging to support a quick routine, like “2 minutes to great skin!” Meanwhile, a campaign for “Midlife Margaret” might tout the organic, high-quality ingredients used to create a product.
How to create a buyer persona
Now that we know why personas are important, how can you go about creating one? Start with these three basic steps.
- Research, research, research. Talk with your sales and customer support teams to understand the various types of consumers that you currently engage. Collect more data around them via surveys, social media, or discovery calls (as examples). Make sure to leverage both internal and external sources to get a well-rounded understanding of current or potential buyers.
- Identify your most important segment. Select one high-value segment to drill deeper into, and to base your persona off of (note: you can always go back and create separate personas for your other customer segments). Answer questions like, what are their main demographics? What are their goals and motivations? What do they value? How and where do they interact online?
- Create the full story. Pull all of your research and insights together into a doc. Organize this information into an easy-to-skim brief. HubSpot offers a free buyer persona template that can further simplify this step.
And voila! You’ve got your first buyer persona.
Put your personas to use
When created and utilized properly, buyer personas are instrumental in helping businesses understand their target customers. They provide a ground-level view of your customers and can keep your whole team aligned. Don’t neglect this step, but rather use it to your advantage.