How To Build Buyer Personas

We all have our visions of dream customers. The ones who flow seamlessly through the buyer journey, responding perfectly to each brand interaction and becoming a dedicated customer. But, wishing and hoping won’t bring these individuals through our door. No, we must tailor our marketing to reach them. And the first step in that process is putting what’s in our head down on the page/screen/board/etc. in the form of detailed persona profiles. These profiles serve as a check point as we work to understand our audiences and target our messaging to reach them.

Personas are detailed, fictional profiles of the types of unique audience members you’re hoping to target with your marketing. Persona dossiers include a name, a detailed description—addressing demographics, likes and dislikes, preferred content formats, marketing frequency preferences, etc.—and, sometimes, even a photo. Marketers refer to personas when developing their strategy, campaigns, messaging, brochures, websites, and everything in between. So how do go about building these quintessential marketing tools for your own brand?

Research

Before you develop your personas, you need to conduct in-depth research on your current audience and, potentially, any untapped audiences. Exploring the following elements of your marketing and the industry in which you operate reveals key information that’ll shape your detailed personas:

  • Leads and Customers
  • Stakeholders
  • Social Media
  • Analytics
  • Products/Services

To ensure you accurately represent your most valuable audiences, leads, and customers in your personas, you need to figure out who these people are and, specifically, how they think and operate. Search for common qualities between your valued leads and customers. What habits, thoughts, motives, lifestyles make them unique? You’ll need this information later. Which customers bring you the most ROI and where do your top leads come from? You can begin to shape your personas around those valued audience members. Who are you interacting with on social media and do they reveal key information about their personalities? Interview your stakeholders. Find out who’s benefitting from your services and who’s not. Look at your analytics. Who’s responding to CTAs on your website? Studying these key marketing elements and asking yourself detailed questions about those interacting with your brand will help you shape personas around the valued audience you already have.

Figuring out who your customers are is only half the battle. You also need to realize who your customers should be. A deep understanding of your product or services will shed light on who to target. Who can benefit from your product the most? Who has needs that your product or service fulfills? This is most important when you are coming out with a new product or looking to enter a new market. Who do you want your audience to be? In which markets does your product or service thrive? Are there any untapped markets you’d like to expand into? These questions are equally as important and should also help shape your persona profiles.

Persona Profiles

Now, it’s time to create a tangible resource out of all of that research: persona profiles.

We recommend developing two to four buyer personas. It’s rare for a product or service to only benefit one specific type of person. In order to accurately represent your full audience, you’ll need at least two personas representing at least two types of customers. Making your personas too broad can be limiting as they may not represent your audience well and you may not reveal important character traits. We don’t recommend having more than four, however. Getting too detailed can overcomplicate your strategy and messaging in the future. Plus, if personas are too specific you could inadvertently exclude important audience members.

For each persona, you’ll create a full dossier on a fictional person who represents the demographics, needs, wants, qualities, interests, likes, dislikes, and habits. These profiles reveal their thoughts and actions that could influence how they respond to your brand.

Many buyer personas include the following elements, but don’t limit yourself if additional categories add value to your persona.

Name: Choose a realistic name for your fictional person.

Title: Define what job they do and what level of work they do.

Location: List where they live and/or work.

Photo: This photo should represent your persona’s age, gender, demographic details.

Bio: This is where to list characteristics that make your persona unique. Describe key personality traits. What is their day-to-day life like? Be sure to provide details that offer a window into how they may or may not respond to your product or service.

Motivations: Describe their goals. Their desires. What motivates them to purchase?

Challenges: Explain what may prevent them from taking action. What struggles do they experience every day? What roadblocks do they experience when they make purchasing decisions?

Sources: Here’s where you reveal who/what they trust. Where do they get their information?

Your profiles should be long enough to paint an accurate portrait but short enough to make it easy to refer back to them as you move forward with your marketing. A few sentences at most for each section should do the trick. Keep in mind, these categories aren’t limiting. Add any pertinent information specific to your audience and industry. For example, if salary and hobbies are key to describing your personas, add that information to your profiles. If it’s not as important to you what sources they trust, replace that category with something more appropriate to your brand.

PersonaImage

Exclusionary Personas

You may also want to create one to two negative, or exclusionary personas. These represent the audience members that likely won’t be interested in your products and services. The same guidelines apply to creating these negative personas, the only difference is to represent those who have proven not to be the best fit for your brand. Avoid allocating any resources toward marketing to your exclusionary personas and focus only on the persona profiles that represent your target customers.​ 

Ideal audience members don’t have to be figments of your imagination. Persona profiles bring your audience to life and are a vital element to a marketing strategy. Creating and, eventually, having a deep understanding of these personas will allow you to target your ideal audience while infusing your marketing with messages that resonate with them on a level that leads to a sale.

Would you like assistance creating your buyer personas? We can help with that. Contact us today.