|This is Chapter 3 from the Buyer Persona Guide.|
Knowing your target audience is crucial for your business, therefore knowing to who you actually sell your product or service isn’t optional. So, get to know who your buyer is. And the best way to do that is to create your buyer persona.
Sounds easier said than done? It can be if you don’t know where to start. But when you understand how things work and what their purpose it, it will all make sense.
So, while all marketers seem to agree that defining your buyer persona is a must for your brand’s success, many of them are still struggling with knowing exactly where to start. How exactly do you define your buyer persona?
First, let’s start with the basics and understand what a buyer persona stands for in marketing.
What Is a Buyer Persona?
Shortly, a buyer persona that represents your ideal customer or consumer – basically your loyal buyer.
They are some sort of tool, if you will, that brings confidence and clarity into your marketing strategy and helps your brand convince buyers to choose you rather than a competitor.
Buyer Persona = The Ideal Client Profile
In other words, a buyer persona is a detailed description of your target customer. A fully created buyer persona includes all details from demographic information to hobbies, interests, desires, and pain points. And all this information is written in a way as if the avatar is a real person.
Image Source: Indie Game Girl
Additionally, it’s important to understand the fact that buyer personas are extremely valuable for developing strategic messages, content, and offers that would differentiate your brand from competitors.
Buyer Personas are the foundation for any business that relies on customer acquisition, conversion, and retention.
And when your avatars are complete, and you finally put a face to a collection of abstract data, you’ll be amazed to see how much this actually helps you understand the motivating beliefs behind each buyer, their fears, pain points, and secret desires that influence their buying decisions on a daily basis.
Generally, most companies create several different buyer personas with the role to represent the main segments of their customer base. Creating a few different buyer personas will help you craft a customized content strategy that directly engages with your target customers.
|Bottom line: The goal of a buyer persona is to gain insight into how your most important customer profile thinks, acts, responds, and behaves online. Additionally, a buyer persona can help you better understand your customer’s needs and desires as well as how your products or services can meet these needs and desires.|
How Many Buyer Personas Should I Create for My Business?
You may have heard several answers regarding the number of buyer personas (or avatars) you should create. And with each answer, your confusion would only grow. We get that.
However, the truth is there isn’t a perfect number of buyer personas you should create. It really depends on what works best for your business.
As a general rule, most businesses choose to create a couple of buyer personas. But, if your business is targeting multiple industries, you should consider creating a unique buyer persona for each one – even if there might be cases where two customers from your separate industries are quite similar.
People are always more likely to buy something that speaks to them personally.
Additionally, what we need to mention here is the fact that those businesses that sell specific products or services, must also understand niche marketing. Why? Because:
Niche Marketing is extremely powerful.
You may have heard about niche marketing but never really got what’s it about and why it is beneficial to your marketing strategy. Well, let’s clarify this issue as well by understanding what niche marketing really is.
What Is Niche Marketing?
Niche marketing comes from identifying your niche market which is basically a narrower audience within your target audience.
So, within each target audience, there are smaller subgroups of people, also known as niches. And niche marketing essentially has to do with the ways a business promotes its product or service to these narrower audiences.
And you know what they say (or maybe you don’t, but you will now)? The riches are in the niches.
But how do you discover this narrow audience?
By simply doing thorough research to find out who exactly is your audience. What you need to look for are demographics, interests, desires, pain points, social media habits, and so on.
By having all this information you’ll practically be able to identify how your potential buyers spend their time and use information. The result? It will be easier for you to reach them.
Let’s say you’ve identified your niche market. What then?
The next step after identifying your niche market is for you to find out who would most likely be a buyer in your niche market. What do we mean?
Well, think of it this way: although everyone may be interested in or benefit from your products or services, you are NOT interested in POTENTIAL buyers. What you want is to find that buyer who is most likely to really buy your product or service. You need to aim accurately. But how?
Create your buyer persona(s). The reason you need to create your buyer persona is because a buyer persona is a detailed casebook with all the data you need to know about, such as: where your buyers like to shop, how they spend their free time if they own their home, what is their job, how much they earn, what are their hopes and dreams, what is their pain point, why they chose to buy your products, why they chose your brand… and so on.
Imagine you spent a day (or week) with them. What would that day (or week) look like?
Essentially, you want to understand what motivates your buyers. And give them just that.
Image Source: Buyer Persona Institute
Ask yourself the following two questions:
- “Who is your target audience?” and
- “Who are your buyer personas?”
The target audience concept refers to a specific demographic who would be looking to interact with your business by using your services or buying your products. On the other hand, a buyer persona is an imaginary example of what this demographic may really look like.
To best market your business (its products and services), it is critical to first identify your niche market (a niche market is a smaller market that is part of your larger, general market) and the buyer personas within those niches.
When it comes to your social media marketing, identifying your personas is very important. And here’s the reason why: having your buyer persona will benefit your marketing strategy because you’ll know where to focus your attention in order to create content specifically designed for those who are most likely to purchase your products or services.
Additionally, because you know what your buyer persona looks like, you’ll even be able to customize your online ads and messaging in a way so that they would fit right in within the demographics that describe these buyer personas.
For example, if your buyer persona is a modern, urban mom, age 30-40 who is a fan of a healthy, balanced lifestyle and prefers organic and whole food, you should tailor your advertisements in a way to include information that would clearly appeal to this demographic.
Also, you can use such demographics when creating ads on Facebook and Instagram. How? Very simple, inside the advertising platform, you are able to indicate location, age, gender, education level, likes, dislikes, and other specific details you may want to include to narrow down your target audience.
However, be aware that without an accurately created buyer persona, you clearly won’t be able to take full advantage of this narrowing of the advertisement on social platforms. As a result, you’ll basically target your Facebook and Instagram audience randomly.
You don’t want that. It’s like targeting nothing and expecting results. It’s totally inefficient.
The key here – and the solution essentially – is to create your buyer persona and really focus your marketing efforts on those who are most likely to actually turn into customers or consumers and purchase your products and/or services long-term.
In Social Media personalized marketing is a must – your customers expect it.
How to Create a Great Social Media Buyer Persona
All good marketers know that having a buyer persona is crucial in their effort to address the right people and provide the right message. It’s pure logic: in order to know what you should say, you need to know who you are talking to.
“Easier said than done” you may think. Don’t worry, things are about to become clearer and clearer as you carry on reading.
If you’ve read this guide so far, at this point, things about buyer personas should already be more clear. You may already feel like you’re developing a better understanding of what a buyer persona actually means. And that’s great.
However, you are still wondering how on earth you are supposed to get started and create your buyer persona. We get your concern. And that’s why we are going to explain how you can do just that.
Well, one way you can accomplish creating your buyer persona is by simply interviewing your current customers. Keep in mind that gathering data from your customers is an essential part of running a business.
Besides, in order to help your customers and address their needs, you must understand what their pain points are, what they like and dislike, and what they need and desire. Spending a few minutes answering some questions will allow you to help them better and give them the information they actually need and want. Remember content marketing is about your audience (customers, consumers), not you.
Steps to Create Your Buyer Persona
Although creating your customer avatar requires thorough planning, data gathering as well as detailed analysis, don’t worry, you’ll be able to manage.
What you need to understand is that in order to properly promote and sell more of your product, reach a larger audience and grow your list of followers, you need to become very efficient in your marketing strategy and the way to do that is to learn how to create a buyer persona.
Here are a few simple steps to follow when creating your buyer persona:
Step 1: Ask the Right Questions
Put together a list of relevant questions to ask about each buyer persona you create.
Don’t skip this part as you’ll be surprised to see how many relevant little details you can find out by asking even the most boring question over and over again.
Here are some of the questions to have in the back of your head when going through your detailed research (regardless of whether you decide to hold surveys and polls via social media, one on one interviews, or focus groups) and creating your ideal client profile:
Note: We’ve put them in the main question categories, but you are welcome to categorize them however works best for you.
- Who is your customer?
- Who does the customer work for?
- Who does your customer live with at home?
- Who motivates your customer? Who is his influencer?
- What are your customer’s hobbies and interests?
- What’s your customer’s level of education?
- What is your customer’s gender?
- What is your customer’s age?
- What’s your customer’s income level?
- What are your customer’s pain points in their personal and other aspects of life?
- What are some of your life struggles?
- What are your customer’s biggest fears?
- What are your customer’s goals?
- What are your customer’s job and title?
- What are your customer’s dreams, hopes, and desires?
- What publications or blogs is your customer interested in reading?
- What are your customer’s favorite places to eat and hang out?
- What brands does your customer feel loyal to?
- What does your customer consider a good marketing campaign?
- What does your customer consider businesses get wrong?
- Where does your customer hang out online? Which social platform does your customer prefer?
- Where does your customer live? – In an urban, suburban, or rural environment?
- Where did your customer go to school and what level of education did he complete?
- Why does your customer prefer the brands he does? And why is he loyal to those brands?
- Why does your customer prefer to make the purchases online?
- Why (if the case) does your customer prefer brick-and-mortar stores and not online shopping?
- How is your customer regarding technology? Is he tech-savvy, and knows his way around social media? Is the online environment part of your customer’s life?
- How can your company help solve your customer’s challenges?
- How can your product or service meet the needs of your customer?
- How does your customer prefer to communicate?
- How does your customer prefer to interact with your company: email, phone, social media messages, or in person?
And, because your goal with the above questions is to get to know your customers, get to understand them, and find out what motivates them, what you should do is always follow up each question with another question: the famous ‘WHY’.
This tiny follow-up question is actually a qualitative marketing technique called: laddering.
What Is Laddering in Marketing?
Laddering is basically asking “why” over and over again until you get real insight regarding what really motivates people, more importantly, what motivates your target audience – your ideal customer.
Therefore, if you are interested to get your conclusions right about your target audience, consider taking the time to ask all the necessary questions and find out the why behind all the information you get from your audience. What do you do?
Climb each rung on the ladder, each rung of information in order, one step after the other. How? By asking why…. why… why…
Step 2: Discover the Characteristics of Your Avatar
Try to go really deep into details and information and find out the following:
Your Buyer’s Job Title & Description
Here you want to go into details regarding what your customer does, how influential he or she is, and what are his or her work responsibilities.
Here you need to include your customer’s age, gender, income level, education, marital status/family, and where he or she lives, works and likes to hang out.
Image Source: Single Grain
Psychological Issues – Psychographics
Here you want to go deeper than just listing demographics to describe who your buyer is. You want to get to know your buyer closely and find out what your customer’s habits are. You can get insightful details about your buyer’s habits by describing hobbies, values, interests, and concerns.
Oh and just in case you are struggling to keep up with all the new terms in marketing, let us clarify what psychographics is.
Psychographics are similar to demographics. But, while demographics clarify who your buyer is, psychographics brings insight regarding why they buy.
Also, demographic information is about your buyer’s gender, age, income, and marital status, whereas psychographic information can include your buyer’s hobbies, interests, daily habits as well as spending habits, values, and concerns.
The key here is that you understand what’s truly important to your buyer, and once you own this valuable information, you’ll know where to find and how to effectively motivate your buyer. Basically, you’ll know how to give your buyers what they want and need.
Pain Points, Desires, and Needs
Find out your buyer persona’s primary needs and desires as well as pain points. Know what keeps your buyer up at night and find a way to help them accomplish those desires and goals. Be the hero your buyer needs and you’ll turn them into your loyal customer.
Know the Negative in the Purchase Process
Learn why your ideal customer wouldn’t buy from you. What hinders your buyer from happily using your product or service? Make sure to find out and eliminate that obstacle.
Social Media/Online Use
Be aware of the social platforms and online mediums your buyer hangs out on and why. Know where your avatar gets his or her information from. Make sure you know your avatar’s favorite websites, books, news outlets, and favorite social platforms. And remember to get into the why’s: why does he or she like social platforms over websites, or websites over social platforms?
Step 3: Fill in the Buyer Persona Template
Using a template may prove extremely valuable in the process of creating your buyer persona and will help you define your ideal buyer faster and easier.
So, try out our Buyer Persona Template as it’s very easy to use – all you need to do is fill out the Buyer Persona Template sheet step-by-step and you are done. You have your Buyer Persona.
Here are some other buyer persona template samples you could choose from:
- ‘Persona Templates’ from HubSpot
- ‘The Customer Avatar Worksheet’ from Digital Marketer
- ‘User Persona Template’ from Xtensio
- ‘Buyer Persona Template’ from Demand Metric
- ‘The Inbound Marketer’s Pocket Buyer Persona Kit’ from iMPACT
Step 4: Decide on Your Approach
There are different approaches to conducting your research – it also depends on whether or not you have existing customers or not.
Approach No. 1 – When You Already Have Customers:
Interview existing customers – if you have the possibility it’s best to interview your customers in person, over the phone, or via other systems. While interviewing use your avatar research checklist so you would get all the info you need.
Team up with your sales and marketing colleagues (team members) – asking the guys and gals over at the sales and marketing team to tell you what they know about the people who actually purchase your products or services is a brilliant idea.
Conduct an online survey – there are a few ways you can do this by simply finding the proper tools that can help you out, such as Jotform Survey Maker, TypeForm, 123 Form Builder, AYTM, Crowd Signal or SurveyMonkey. All great tools to conduct your online survey.
Social media platform analytics are your friend – Social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest have built-in analytics, so things become easier here as you can find the info you need right there in the social platform analytics. More on this a bit later.
Approach No. 2 – When You Don’t Have Customers Yet:
Don’t freak out, there are solutions for this case, too.
So, if you find yourself in this category (you don’t have a website or you are a startup) you can simply try to discover your target audience by taking into consideration the solutions your product or service provides to your target audience.
Survey research with leads – survey research with leads works in this case, too. Also, in case you have existing social media platforms, you can do survey research with your followers.
Check out your competition’s social media platforms – What will this help you with? Simple, for demographic and psychographic insights, such as the audience’s interests, needs, and pain points.
Check what people are saying in their comments and who are the people that engage the most.
Another reason to check out your competition’s social pages is to get more information about activities, education, and other demographic info that might help you get a better understanding of the target audience you need to pursue.
Industry blogs and forums in your target marketplace – are also a great place to start. What you need to pay special attention to here, are the comments as well as the questions asked by the audience.
Check out their tone of voice, their attitude, and what they share. By doing this you can easily find out what people’s needs and pain points are. And knowing this type of info will help you develop your product or service in a way it will come as a solution to your potential audience needs and challenges.
Quora – is also perfect to look for questions your potential customer would ask and then simply review their responses. After all, Quora has a lot to offer, even if you only have time to spend just a few minutes there each day.
Amazon Books or Product Reviews – a more work demanding, however, most likely very valuable process is digging through Amazon product reviews – you can click on the reviewer profiles and check out what products your potential customers are interested in.
By doing this you’ll get a better understanding of their buying habits, hobbies and this will also give you context and insight into what problems they face so you can improve your product or service in a way that would better improve their lives and meet their needs.
So, check the comments, the product reviews – particularly 1 and 5-star reviews are really great to find out what people love or hate about similar products or services as yours.
The Difference Between a Buyer Persona and a User Persona
Now that you know how to create your buyer persona, it’s time you learn the difference between a buyer persona and a user persona. Yes, there is a difference between the two.
Here is the difference you need to know about: A buyer persona isn’t necessarily a user, but it can be.
What do we mean? Well, think of it this way: if you buy a bicycle for yourself, you are both the buyer and the user, but if you buy the bicycle for your son (and you don’t even know how to ride a bike or you are simply not interested in bikes) then you are the buyer but not the user.
Why is this important? Although it may seem clear and logical, it’s an important aspect to take into consideration, especially for UX designers, product managers, marketers, and sales representatives.
It’s important to consider both the buyers and users while designing products or services, mapping customer journeys, and creating marketing and sales campaigns. The reason we can’t overlook this element is that buyer and user personas often have different goals and expectations.
Knowing the difference between a buyer persona and a user persona is extremely important, so make sure to identify the goals, expectations, motivations, and pain points that can give you the necessary understanding of what features you should focus on.
Here are the main things you should focus on:
- Buyer personas aren’t necessarily user personas, however, they can be.
- User personas focus on details like the ease of product/service use.
- Buyer personas are more likely concerned about higher-level purposes (not just product use).
- Be aware that a buyer persona may represent a team of decision-makers with different goals as well as expectations.
- You need to know and take into consideration the level of influence user personas have on the final decision.
- When creating your user personas, make sure to focus on skills and previous experience.