• Joanna Pelletier

Buyer Persona Best Practices

Do you know your customers?

This might seem like a silly, rhetorical question, but as marketers, we all know that being more dialed into who your ideal customers are and what they want means better targeting, messaging, and return on investment when all is said and done. And yet, approximately 60 percent of marketers don’t have the data they need to grow their brand presence.

Without this essential information, it’s going to be difficult to effectively scale any business or garner success from marketing systems and tactics. That’s why buyer personas, or the archetypes we create of our “ideal clients,” are so important. Building buyer personas helps you tailor personalized marketing approaches that connect to consumers quickly and effectively.

To start that process, here are some of the best practices for crafting buyer personas that work.

Give Them Their Humanity

As marketers, it’s easy to get hypnotized by a dashboard or get lost in nerdy conversations with other marketers about your campaign data. And sometimes, getting stuck in that pattern can push us in a direction where we only see numbers and fail to see the humanity of it all.

In order to connect with consumers, we need to give them their humanity and see them as real people. Get cozy with that idea.

For your target audience in particular, you need to determine who is already buying from you– especially for those repeat customers–and how they connect to your brand. This includes collecting key data from your CRM, social media channels, surveys, event data, online reviews, and/or past email and paid advertising campaign results. Some core data you can collect from these resources include:

  • Demographics: age, gender, location, family info

  • Career path: job, goals, income, education

  • Internet presence: social media sites frequented, blogs read, websites frequented

  • Behaviors: hobbies, values, relevant interests

If you’re just launching your business and don’t have access to these data points yet, try interviewing people who could benefit from your product, conduct a focus group, or create a Google Consumer survey. Traditional sources like Mintel and Gallup are also helpful for gathering foundational data for better understanding your customers.

And of course, when you’re interviewing people live, always remember to ask people “why?” as a follow-up question. Discovering motivations as just as important as data.

Forget Your Assumptions

To be successful at building your personas, you need to forget what you think you know about your customers, be open to learning new things about your target audience, and be ready to adapt quickly. Sometimes that means ignoring the most unique attribute a few of your customers have to focus on the attributes everyone shares.

Also, make sure you have the most up-to-date information about your customer base available. Sometimes that means conducting new research once every three, six, or 12 months.

Identify & Understand Their Pain Points

We buy things that solve our problems. Ask yourself: What problem(s) do(es) your company’s product(s) or service(s) solve for ideal customers? What challenges are they facing that will bring them to you as a solution?

To better understand pain points and how your customers feel about your company and companies like yours, try using social listening tools like Brandwatch, Google Trends, or Meltwater to figure out what people are saying about you and (just as importantly) about your competition online. Your customer service team is also an excellent resource for this information–what are the most common questions or problems they receive?

Be More Than A List

Just building a list of buyer data isn’t the same thing as creating a buyer persona. When you put together a persona, think of how to connect these data points to the potential human element. This isn’t just about who a potential customer is – but also about what they want and what they need to get there. After all, it’s a whole lot easier to talk to “David” than it is to talk to “Single African American Male in his 20s,” and it helps you begin to build a relationship with actual customers based on understanding and mutual respect.

Once you have all your data together, you can either create a template for your company or leverage any of the free templates available online. We’re personally fond of HubSpot’s buyer persona template, which is used by over 130,000 businesses to date.

Start Small

Focus on crafting one really good persona at first and then create more as you go along. You don’t need 13 personas to be successful and you’ll never want more than 1-3 buyer personas at any time. However, you will want to continually update that persona as time goes on so you can focus your marketing appropriately and make adjustments.

Once you have your personas put together, you’ll have the foundation for more effective and profitable targeting, messaging, and strategy. The better your buyer personas, the better prepared your business will be to smoke your competition!

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