How To Create A Buyer Persona | Master Your Target Customers
Buyer personas are a fantastic way to stay focused on your target customers. By distilling your ideal customers into well-researched personas, you’re able to anticipate their wants and needs, and provide better customer service to them.
In this article, we provide an overview of how to create a buyer persona for your business, covering the key steps in the process. Let’s jump in!
Time and cost
Buyer personas are only as good as the research that goes into them. It’s possible to knock up some relatively accurate buyer personas quickly using your experience, but if you want them to truly reflect members of your target audience, you’ll need to complete customer research that can take you anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks. But we promise you it’s worth it.
As for the cost, assuming that you already have somewhere to interview people, the only other component that may cost you extra is a tool for completing surveys. These start at about $25 a month.
What you need
To complete accurate buyer personas, you’ll need the following:
- Survey software like SurveyMonkey or HotJar
- Somewhere to interview customers
How to create a buyer persona
Here’s the four-step process on how to create buyer personas for your company. This is intended to be a broad overview rather than an exhaustive guide, but it will give you the info you need to get started.
The vast majority of work that goes into creating buyer personas is research. We recommend completing each one of these tasks below, but if you’re pushed for time, you can pick a couple (e.g. your existing data, and chatting to your sales team) to get a decent foundation, and then refine them with further research later.
This is the information that you’re trying to gather as part of the research process, so be sure to include these in the research methods whenever you can.
- Level of education
- Social media preferences
- Communication preferences
- Their primary goals
- Their challenges, and how your company can help to overcome them
- Their biggest fears
- Their hobbies/interests
- Their personal values
Surveys can unearth a ton of valuable data for your buyer personas, but some of your customers may feel uncomfortable filling them out. To soothe their fears, explain that you’re going through this process to better understand their needs and preferences, to provide them with better customer service, and to improve your products/services for them. You can also offer them a gift or other incentive if they agree to complete the survey.
The best way to send the survey is with a tool like Survey Monkey, which allows you to easily email it to your customers. It also collates the responses for you so that you can quickly export and analyse them.
Review your existing data
If your marketing team has diligently asked for useful customer information in your website’s forms, you may already have some great data. Take some time to collate the information you have on your customers. Common information includes their location, job, company, and company size.
Customer interviews are great for getting long-form information such as people’s wants, needs, and preferences. By keeping the interview informal, and asking plenty of open-ended questions, you can encourage the person to open up to you and provide you with valuable info about what drives them.
It’s easier to build rapport when you’re face-to-face with someone, so these types of interviews usually work best. If you’re trying to set these up, make it as easy as possible for the customer—you might even consider visiting their home if it suits, although a quiet meeting room usually works best (screaming kids and barking dogs don’t make for good interview environments). If it’s too tough to arrange face-to-face interviews, phone interviews are the next best thing and are much easier to arrange.
Be sure to start off the interview with some casual, easy questions before jumping into the heavy stuff. Some crucial things to ask about are their goals, challenges, fears, values, and interests. But it’s also important to be flexible and see where the interview takes you, because you can uncover some gems.
Deciding who to interview can be tricky. Ideally, you’ll already have a rough idea of who your typical customers are before starting the process, so you can try to interview customers who loosely fit them. If your target audience are baby boomers who own their own homes, and you want to solidify their buyer persona, try to find customers who fit that description. On the other hand, creating buyer personas is primarily a discovery process where you don’t know who they are until you start researching, so you should pick some customers at random to interview as well.
Chat to your sales team
Your sales team speaks to prospects and customers every day, so they can be instrumental in developing your buyer personas. Chat to them about the demographics, qualities, and characteristics of your company’s typical customer, as well as what they want and need the most.
If you’d like to discover more customer research methods, check out our article on how to identify customer needs.
2. Compile and label your data
Now that your research is complete, you’ll need to compile all of your information into a single spreadsheet, with neat columns for every data type. If you have long-form qualitative information, you’ll need to read each piece of info and add tags that encapsulate key points. For example, if a customer has told you that they are happy to spend more on high-quality products, you may want to tag it with “pays for quality,” and then re-use that tag elsewhere if another customer says the same. This is a vital part of the process—keep your tags consistent as you work through your data, because this will allow you to easily filter them later to spot patterns and trends.
3. Analyse and segment
Now that you have plenty of data all compiled into one spreadsheet, it’s time to analyse and segment your customers into groups.
Your company helps customers to fulfill a need, so one of the easiest things to start with is their intent—what is driving them to purchase your products and services? Once you’ve identified a number of common intents, you can delve deeper into each of them, looking for patterns for other data points like age, gender, level of education, challenges, and personal values. This is why it’s crucial to have consistent data/tags in your spreadsheet, because filtering will give you an accurate idea of how many people are saying the same thing, which can then be used in your persona.
The hard part is over. Huzzah!
Now you just need to design the individual templates for each persona you’ve discovered. You can either buy a premade template that fits your needs, or have a designer knock one up in Photoshop. It doesn’t have to be fancy (although fancier designs may encourage people to use them), it just needs to contain the useful data you’ve gathered for them.
Here’s some buyer persona examples from the web:
Image from Oberlo
Image from Stratwell
Image from Trew Marketing
Creating buyer personas—summary
That’s the process in a nutshell! Creating buyer personas takes time, but is well worth the effort. When you’re done, you’ll have a better understanding of your target audience, and will be able to tailor your products and customer services around their needs. The result is greater customer loyalty, and more growth for your business!