There has been a lot of ebbing and flowing in recent years in terms of buyer personas. When the HubSpot boom started, buyer personas were top-of-mind for any and every marketer. But as time went on, the excitement for them began to wear off as business owners and marketers both realized just how time-intensive it is to actually create buyer personas that work.
For us, though, buyer personas have been at the pinnacle of our MO from day-one.
What is a Buyer Persona?
At the most basic sense, a buyer persona is a fictional representation of a company’s ideal customer.
However, even that most basic definition can expand and branch out into myriad snapshots of customer profiles. For example, say the representation of your company’s ideal customer is a male in his early 20s who loves skateboarding. From that simple identity alone, you could ask yourself: Does he love to longboard or does he prefer short cruisers? If your ideal customer could actually prefer either or, then you effectively have two buyer personas: Men in their early 20s who love to longboard, and men in their early 20s who love short cruisers.
In theory, you could keep branching these individual personas forever, and for good reason: Keeping with the skateboard example, you wouldn’t want to show digital ads of short cruisers to someone who solely longboards (and vice versa).
Crafting a Buyer Persona
You may have a mental image in your mind of who your ideal customer is, but how does that match up with the idea your boss has? Or your marketing team’s? The absolute first step in crafting brand messaging or marketing deliverables that is targeted to your ideal customer is getting everyone on your team on the same page about who that person (or persons) is.
To begin, you’ll want to take stock of your current customer base. How do those demographics match up with the customer you have in your mind? Are you envisioning a 45-year-old stay-at-home mom, but your customer data is showing you the profile of a 65-year-old female retiree? If there are inconsistencies in your perception versus your data right off the bat, there are a few questions you should ask yourself:
- Is my brand or my marketing catering specifically to the 65-year-old audience instead of the 45-year-old group?
- How am I setting up my digital spending? Is something happening with the demographic set-up that shouldn’t’ be?
- Do I just need to get over the idea that I have of the ideal customer?
One or more of these could be entirely true. Begin by assessing what is and isn’t real in terms of your marketing and customer base, so you can figure out how to move forward from there.
Once you’ve landed on your true target audience, it’s time to have a conversation (or 100). Pull together a customer list of your most recent or most loyal customers and offer them an opportunity to be heard. Customer interviews or even customer polls are great ways to gain initial insight into what makes a customer tick.
Offer up a discount or a gift card for 10 minutes of their time and ask them questions like:
- What is your age (if you don’t have that information already)?
- How long have you been a customer of ours?
- How did you find us?
- When you are typically trying to solve a problem, what do you do? Ask friends on Facebook, search on Google, look up YouTube tutorials, or something else?
- What type of music do you listen to (this can tell you a lot more than you’d think!)
- What do you do for a living/What industry are you in?
- What is your job role or title?
- What does a typical day look like for you?
- Which publications or blogs do you read?
- Which social media platforms are you most active on?
- What is the biggest challenge you’re facing at work right now?
- How do you prefer to interact with people on a daily basis (phone, email, text, etc)?
- Describe a recent purchase and how you came to that purchasing decision.
With the answers to each of these questions, you should have a loose profile of that individual person. Combine those answers with that of all of the other interviews you coordinated, and you should be able to draw out some consistencies like an age range, search preferences, communication styles, social media platforms, and so on.
With all of this combined, you have the basis of your buyer persona.
Get Started with this Buyer Persona Template
We like to give faces and names to our buyer personas because it gives us a fictional person to have a conversation with. Rather than saying, “Our ideal customer prefers email,” we can say, “Businessman Bob prefers email.” Immediately, that gives us even more information about who the target customer is: He’s a man, he’s in business and he prefers email.
See what we mean?
Start by using this buyer persona template after you’ve gone through the above research. Find a stock photo of a person who fits your specific demographic and place it in the thumbnail area, so you don’t just have a written representation of who they are, but a visual one as well.
We’re Here to Help
Having those conversations and crafting the right buyer persona (or multiple buyer personas) is a time-intensive project. Don’t have the time or want to pass the task over to the pros? We’re here to help.
We believe in a research-driven process that truly helps us understand who your target customers are so we can make the absolute right decisions for you and your business.