Imagine this: you want to have a conversation about your favorite new thing, so you go out into the middle of the sidewalk in New York City and start talking. You’re passionate and excited, but people keep passing right by, only catching snippets of what you’re saying. It sounds frustrating and ineffective, right? It would have been much easier to pick one person or a small group and start there.

If you’re selling products, goods, or services online and you haven’t defined a buyer persona, you’re taking the “middle of the sidewalk” approach. Even if your offering is excellent, you just can’t appeal to everyone In other words – if you don’t know who your customer is, how do you know who you’re talking to?

I’ll bet you never thought that an imaginary friend could give you information on how best to run your company. It sounds pretty silly when you say it out loud, I admit. But it’s true. Imaginary friends give you tons of important information about how you can market and what your customers are looking for. You’ve heard all this before. You just know them as buyer personas.

Buyer personas are a powerful tool that give your business a concrete person to market to- even if technically, they don’t exist. What makes buyer personas powerful is how you can address the common difficulties they have, categorize them along with your physical clients, your concrete customers. You can use them to represent larger portions of people you are trying to connect with, and the best part is that you know exactly what is going on in their heads. There’s no mystery or confusion. You learn from the persona, and continue developing it as you evolve.

Whether you’re a new company or an established brand looking to make your marketing efforts more effective, defining a buyer persona is the first step. After all, 71% of companies who exceed revenue and lead goals have documented buyer personas. You should too.

In this blog, we’ll lay out a comprehensive checklist to help you understand your customers and cater to their needs. 

Let’s dive in.

What is a Buyer Persona?

A buyer persona is one of the critical building blocks for a good business. A fictional mock-up of your ideal customer, a buyer persona considers the needs, motivations, demographics, and concerns of your target audience to help you develop a marketing strategy. Buyer personas include demographic information, insight into behavior patterns, content consumption, pain points, motivations, goals, and more. 

Here’s how HubSpot defines a buyer persona:

Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on data and research. They help you focus your time on qualified prospects, guide product development to suit the needs of your target customers, and align all work across your organization (from marketing to sales to service).

Done correctly, a good buyer persona will help you map the customer journey. It will also help you identify which tools and content you’ll need to attract, convert, and retain them at every phase of your pipeline.  

How Do You Build a Buyer Persona

 

A buyer persona isn’t a magical creature you concoct out of butterflies and rainbows- although that would be more fun? Buyer personas are based on different types of customers you serve which means you ought to have several, if you’re using them right. For instance, if a few of your major clients are lawyers, that’s great! You can have a buyer persona named Larry the Lawyer. But if you have other people you cater to, like plumbers or electricians, you need to take those clients into account too.

So let’s get down to it- you know you need several buyer personas, but how do you actually build them?

  1. Look for Trends– Check your existing contact list for trends. Do you notice you have lots of one particular type of client? That’s an excellent place to start. Build a persona around that client.
  2. Harvest Information– Knowledge is power. When creating forms and getting contact information, add one more question about job type. This will give you more information about who is interested and what types of information they tend to be looking for.
  3. Ask your Team– Your team is in the trenches with your clients. They know the type of people they are better than anyone, even the client themselves. Ask them to give you a few generalizations about the types of people they tend to see the most interest from vs. the types of people who are interested at first, but lose engagement after a while.
  4. Interview customers– Why do they love your company? Why do they hate it? What made them unsubscribe from your email list? What made them choose you over your competition? How many options did they have to choose from for your product or service? Above all, why you? The answers to these questions tell you everything about your company- where you are doing well and where you are losing people.

Once you have this information, you create a person around it. Think of it like an alter ego. For example, a portion of your clients might be small business owners, who are young, but experienced, and looking for growth. Around this information, you might form this persona:

Hannah is a 28 year old small business owner. She has a stable design company that produces fliers and posters for local clients. She has her regular clients and generates good business, and is looking to expand in order to hire more people and grow her business. Recently, she invested in printing equipment so that she could fulfill orders on site. The problem is, the machines took up a lot of space. Right now, the workplace is too cramped for her to hire more people, so she can’t take more orders. She wants to expand her work place in anticipation of growth, but is worried about cash flow problems that might come with moving because her workflow is stalled due to the cramped space.

This is an example of a basic business persona. You have the demographic info, the type of business, the type of client, and the difficulties they might face. You might have a solution to help her, and now you know what type of difficulties you might encounter if you take her on as a client.

 

What Does a Buyer Persona Tell Me?

 

A buyer persona gives you the common problems and solutions you can provide to your clients. Additionally, it gives you a tool to understand the content and information that your clients might be looking for.

Using Hannah as an example, her end game will be to hire a real estate expert to assist her in moving her workplace. But for the time being, an article that talks about how to make the most of your space, or a session with an interior designer to help her maximize the space she already has would certainly peak her interest.

Creating content along the thought process of your buyer persona will help you provide further value to your clients, and eventually, make them see you as an ally, a person they would like to hire.

The end game of building buyer personas is to create a targeted marketing strategy that reaches your customers, leads, and visitors and makes them want to reach out to you. Snagging their attention takes an understanding of who you’re talking to. And that’s what a buyer persona provides. So get to researching! Your imaginary friends are waiting!

 

The Buyer Persona Checklist: How to Create Your Own

While buyer personas may sound complicated, they’re pretty easy to create. Follow this simple checklist:

Start with research

Research in the forms of surveys, interviews, and more is the first step to any good buyer persona. We recommend the following tactics:

  • Use form fields to capture personal information such as job title, company size, and location. 
  • Consult your contacts database to identify trends about how leads find and interact with your content.
  • Gather feedback from sales team clients. 
  • Interview your prospects and customers to discover what they value about your company and service. 

Flesh out Your Persona’s Characteristics and Needs

Once you’ve done your research, start by building out your persona’s basic information. As a general rule, here are some of the things you need to know to build a buyer persona:

  • Age
  • Highest level of education
  • Industry 
  • Size of Org
  • Title
  • Income level
  • How is their performance measured 
  • Who are they accountable to/report to
  • Goals
  • Pain Points
  • Tools/platforms they engage with the most
  • Websites they trust
  • Social media platforms
  • Content formats they prefer(blog posts, videos, social media posts, e-books)
  • Role in making purchases (influencer, purchaser, final decision-maker)

 

Answer the question of “why?”

Once you know who your target buyers are, it’s time to understand what they need. Using the information you gathered during your research, lay out the goals and challenges your buyer personas are facing and the solutions your company can offer them.  

For example, maybe your ideal buyer wants to reduce employee turnover, but they’re struggling to do it since they have a small staff. You could help reduce this pain point by providing an integrated, all-in-one solution that allows them to access employee data from a single dashboard. 

Build additional personas, if needed

Every business is different. While some companies have as few as 2 personas, others could have seven, eight, or more. Feel free to build as many buyer personas as your company needs. Just make sure you’re doing the research to support each. 

Bonus Points: Hire a Professional Company to Help

If you want to make your buyer personas as effective as possible, inThink is here to help. Our team can help you build accurate, targeted buyer personas and take the essential next step of developing journeys for your personas, building content, and ideating marketing strategies to meet them at key critical points along their path to conversion. Ready to learn more? Contact us today!

Find this information helpful? Download our comprehensive buyer persona checklist and learn how to build your own!