The Ultimate Guide to Building Buyer Personas for Your Business

buyer persona

Think about it – when you’re trying to buy the perfect anniversary gift for your spouse, or the perfect gift for your best friend, you can see them in your mind as you’re shopping. You can see what they want and what they need, the things they’d most likely be interested in, what they love, and what they hate. You may not always know what they don’t need, but what you know about them helps you make sure you’re on the right track to the gift that wows… no matter the occasion. That’s how buyer personas work.

Buyer personas, also known as customer avatars, are fictional representations of the person or group of people who are most likely to purchase your product or service. Before you begin any kind of marketing campaign, it is worth taking the time to develop a comprehensive avatar for each segment of your audience. It’s how you can better understand what those people want and need from you.

 

Why You Need Buyer Personas

Having a buyer persona to represent each major segment of your ideal audience will make it significantly easier to tailor your marketing messages, so they speak directly to your prospective customers.

A well-developed customer avatar comes with multiple benefits:

  • An increased understanding of your customer’s needs.
  • A better idea of prospects’ buying behavior
  • Insight to help you develop new (and better) products and services to suit your customer’s needs
  • Knowing where your customers spend their time
  • Higher quality leads – which usually translates to better conversion rates (and more profit in your pocket)

 

Who is Your Target Audience?

With knowledge about what it is you’re offering, and how you’re different from the competition, think about who your ideal customer is, and what they look like – the same way you consider the person you’re shopping for when buying a gift.

Ask yourself:

  • Is my audience all male? All female? Both genders? What’s the proportion of men to women? Is this a product for men that women would buy for them? Take this into consideration as you shape your marketing plans.
  • How old are my customers? What’s the age range I’m looking to target the most?
  • Where do my customers live?
  • What’s their relationship status? Are they married? Do they have children?
  • What is their annual income?
  • What is their educational background?
  • What is their career path? Job title? Daily responsibilities? (This is particularly important for B2B marketers.)
  • What are their hobbies and interests?
  • What are their biggest challenges? (This will help you figure out how your products or services will solve them)
  • What are their favorite websites? Blogs to read?
  • What language(s) do they speak?
  • What is their motivation to buy your products/services? Why are they buying your products/services?
  • What are their concerns about buying your products/services? What reservations do they have about buying your products/services?

Of course, you don’t have to have the answers to all of these questions about each one of your personas, and you may have additional questions based on your niche. No matter the question, the goal should always be to get to know your customers better through the buyer personas you create. This way, you’ll be able to communicate more effectively, and improve your ad targeting efficiency.

 

Putting it Together to Create Personas

If you’ve already got an established website, start looking at the analytics data to see what you can find out about the audience demographics, and fill in the details from there. Beyond your website analytics, you can look at Facebook Insights and other social media data to get an idea of what’s going on within the audience you already have, so you can better determine how to attract the audience you want – if the audience you’ve got doesn’t quite match what you’re going for.

For the most effective buyer personas, you’ll want to craft a story of sorts, an actual “person” to represent each segment of the audience. You can even go so far as to find a photo and give a name to each persona, to make communicating to that person easier… since you’ll be writing your marketing copy as if you were speaking directly to them.

Let’s say you’re marketing a weight loss supplement, specifically designed for women. Your buyer personas may look a bit like this:

  • Locations: United States, Canada
  • Age: 18-50
  • Gender: Female
  • Interests: Health and wellness, fitness, cooking, travel
  • Education level: College student/graduate
  • Relationship status: Single/Married, No Children/Children
  • Language: English
  • Buying motivation: Wants to get healthy and lose weight
  • Buying concerns: Worried about scams, price conscious

Sarah, in her early 30s, is a new mom, and is worried about her metabolism slowing down with age. She’s limited on time, because she’s dealing with the baby, trying to get back into the swing of working full-time. So, she doesn’t want to take the time to go to the gym every day, but likes the idea of doing exercises at home, that she can do either with the baby, or while the baby is in the swing next to her work out area. She’s interested in quick workouts, that she can fit in between chores – and she doesn’t mind spending money on healthier food, because she’s investing in her health so she’s around to see her baby grow up. She is worried, though, about spending too much money on a garbage supplement that won’t work – or something that will give her horrible side effects that many weight loss supplements cause. She is the type that will go to her doctor to discuss the safety of the supplement before she starts using it because she doesn’t want it to interact with any of her medications.

Or, you have something that looks like this:

Tonya, in her mid-40s, is a single woman, who’s always been a little overweight. She never had kids, she’s busy with a full-time job, where she works as an executive. She’s tried every diet under the sun, and even when she followed things to the letter, she didn’t get the results she’s looking for. She knows she’s up against hormonal changes with age, so she went to her doctor to make sure there’s no underlying medical reason for her difficulty for weight loss.

She’s ready to try your product, if you can show her the real science behind yours is different from the hundreds of other competing products out there. She doesn’t like the idea of an autoshipment “free” trial like so many others do – she just wants to buy a bottle, try it, and see what happens. She’s a real skeptic, but the right words can make her pull the trigger, and if you make her happy, she’ll be quite the brand advocate for you.

See how these two women both have the same core reason – wanting to get healthy and lose weight – for coming to you? But how they have different backgrounds and buying concerns? See how you’ll need to appeal to both of them in your marketing material? These are completely fictional, written off the top of my head, but fully plausible potential customers you could run into – and you need to consider how you’ll deal with them.

In Sarah’s case, and in Tonya’s, you’ll need more than the standard before and after photos that so many products are marketed with. Even with a “results not typical” legal blanket to protect you, most customers are too skeptical to really pay attention. So, what can you do? Don’t just say your product is supported by clinical studies. If you haven’t had your full product studied, at least show the actual studies on the ingredients in your product. Make it easy for your customers to get the information they need. Offer a no-strings attached free trial – don’t require autoshipment programs, but give the option for convenience. Make it easy to return the product if someone doesn’t like it – and make sure your money back guarantee beats the competition. It’s an uphill battle in the weight loss supplement world, but you can do it well, if you do it right – and that’s providing a quality product supported by quality service.

If you’re marketing an exercise bike, on the other hand, your personas will change a bit:

  • Locations: United States, Canada
  • Age: 18-50
  • Gender: Male and Female
  • Interests: Health and wellness, fitness, cooking, travel, sports and outdoors
  • Education level: High School grad, College student/graduate
  • Relationship status: Single/Married, No Children/Children
  • Language: English
  • Buying motivation: Wants to get healthy and lose weight without having to go to a gym to do it
  • Buying concerns: Worried about quality, size/space/storage, price conscious

We’re still in the same basic health and fitness arena, but now instead of focusing solely on women with a weight loss supplement, we’ve branched out to include men. And rather than something you add to your diet, we’re focused on exercising you can do at home. A lot of the basic information is the same – but you can see how these differences can create an entirely different persona when we dig into the details and create a story for each of them.

If we follow with Sarah – all we have to do is change the fact that she’s worried about the pill not working, to not having enough space for the bike… and needing a compact solution she can easily fold and put away when she’s done.

If we follow with Tonya, we have to play on the fact that she can workout whenever she has time – there’s no need to worry about paying for an expensive gym membership, and she can do it before or after work, or before bed.. while she’s watching TV.

Then, we’ll need to create a new persona, or two, to target the men who are also going to be interested in the bike – playing to the “macho” side of things, if necessary.

 

Making Your Personas Work for You

With your completed buyer personas in hand, you’ll be able to craft a full-fledged digital marketing strategy that’s designed to cater to each of the people in your audience. Though the exercise may take some time to fully develop, it’s worth the time and effort in the beginning, since it will help reduce the need to guess about what works and what doesn’t.

It’s important to remember, though, that as your business grows and evolves, the customer personas won’t always remain the same. Use the data you gather from various sources throughout your campaigns to see how well they match your personas. It’s possible you won’t get everything right on the first try, but as you get more data, you can make adjustments to fine-tune those personas.

The key is to always keep the customer’s needs at the forefront, and when you notice those needs change, adapt accordingly. Being rigid and unwilling to go with the flow, will not do your business or your customers any favors.

 

Get a FREE Buyer Persona Template

If you’re ready to build your own buyer personas, fill-out the form below to get a FREE instant download of a cool template we’ve built to help make the process easier for you.

Photo credit: iStock

SEO virtuoso, CEO @Sachs Marketing Group. Focused on being of service to business owners - helping to better position them in the eyes of their audiences.

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