Buyer personas are the easiest way to get a handle on who – and how – to sell your product or service. Understanding both your current and prospective customers can give your team an edge on everything from lead-generation to direct marketing to customer service.
Buyer personas allow you to tailor your messaging specifically to the consumer you’re trying to reach – a skill that’s more important than ever now that digital marketing makes it so simple to reach highly-segmented audiences.
How to Create a Buyer Persona
Personas are most effective when they form from a collaboration of data, research, and instinct. Actual market research such as surveys, panels, and focus groups should be the backbone of your persona creation strategy, but don’t neglect the role your personal insights should play. Unless you’re a brand new business, you likely have some experience with customers already, both satisfied and unsatisfied, and you probably have a general idea of what’s working and what’s not.
In addition to creating personas (one, two, or twenty! It all depends on the size and scope of your business) for your ideal customers, you should also create personas for those you don’t want to expend energy trying to reach. These could be consumers with historically high turnover rates or low customer satisfaction trends; knowing who to avoid is as important as knowing who to target.
Questions to Ask When Creating Personas
There are dozens of questions to ask when cultivating effective personas. The tricky part is, the questions you ask should pivot depending on the persona type. For example, if you’re a B2C business selling athletic equipment, you may start by asking the same five questions to every respondent in a survey. But once you know the basics, you probably should dig in different directions when you’ve got both an avid marathon runner and a sentient octogenarian on the other end. Focusing your questions toward the stage in the sales cycle your respondents are in can help you better understand how to reach conversion.
Good persona development questions might touch on areas like...
Career, career goals, and career role:
- Who do they work for, what do they do, and how much agency do they have at work?
Daily life, hobbies, and interests:
- What does their life outside of work look like? How do they relax? What activities do they perform consistently?
Media, exposure, and content:
- What do they read? Which shows do they watch? How do they find out about news, and what do they use their phones for?
Shopping habits, vendor relations, and purchasing behavior:
- How do they find out about new products? Do they use the internet for research? Do they prefer to shop online?
Remember: the goal of a buyer persona is to create a more well-rounded image of your ideal consumer. Don’t just ask the questions that directly relate to your business…find out what makes your customer unique outside the purchasing funnel and you’ll be better equipped to reach them.
Well thought-out customer personas can help your business create customized content, develop effective social media campaigns, and design a website that converts. Even the most spot-on personas need to be reevaluated every few years as the consumer – and their needs – change with time. Your job is to meet the customer where they are, not to get them to come to you, and you can’t find them until you know exactly who you’re looking for.