4 Steps to Building an Effective Buyer Persona

Posted on 03/23/2015.

Buyer personas are one of the most important tools you can use to market your product or service. Unfortunately, they’re also one of the most misused tools — according to marketing research organization ITSMA, only 15% of marketers use their own unique research to create their buyer personas.

Using guesswork to come up with a customer profile can sabotage your marketing efforts. You may end up sending your message to the wrong segment of customers — or worse, your message could be off-target for all of your customers, wasting precious time and money.

In order to help you come up with the most effective buyer persona to help you increase sales, we’ve put together this brief step-by-step guide:

  1.  Understand who your customers are.

Who’s buying from you now? What are the demographics of your current customer base? If you’re a new business, who’s buying from your closest competitors?

Be as detailed as possible. What’s the average age range of your customers? Where do they live? What’s their income level? What gender is most likely to buy from you? What’s their income range?

Other possible factors to include:

  • Education level
  • Relationship status
  • Homeowner or renter
  • Interests and hobbies

Here’s where many businesses stop, considering their buyer persona finished with a quick sketch of demographic information. But if you really want to get results from your marketing efforts, you’ll also need to…

  1. Dive deeper into your customers’ motivations.

What problem or need did your customer have that sent them looking for your product or service? What competitor products did they consider, and why did they ultimately buy from you instead? What problems or concerns keep your customer up at night? How might they resist your marketing efforts, and what types of messaging will overcome that resistance and entice them to buy? Do they use the internet regularly — and if so, which sites do they spend the most time on?

Here’s where a customer survey really comes in handy. Getting these answers directly from your customers, in their own words, can be a huge help when the time comes to craft your next marketing campaign. Don’t just rely on what you guess their answers will be — their reasons for buying a product may be wildly different from what you think.

While you’re writing that customer survey…

  1. Analyze how your target customers will relate to your products.

How do customers commonly use your products? What about your product appeals to them? Which of your products is most attractive to which segments of your customer base? What makes your products stand out from others in the market, and what do you offer that your competitors don’t?

Other things to consider in this step is what you want your audience to do — come to your retail store, call you, visit your website? The answers to these survey questions should help nail that down for you.

  1. Transform your persona into a “real boy” (or girl).

No, you don’t need a magic wand for this step. What we mean is, now that you’ve compiled all this data on your ideal customer, you need to give it a name. Assign a personality, an age, an occupation, hobbies — all information you learned about your customers in your research. You can even get creative here and come up with a life story — whatever helps you and your marketing team relate to the persona.

This all sounds like a lot of work…and it is, if you go about creating your customer profiles the right way. But now that you’ve created a persona that truly represents your ideal customer, you’ve got the knowledge you need to create marketing messages that will resonate for that customer and encourage them to buy from you.

And those increased sales (and increased buyer trust) make the effort worthwhile.