When you build a house, you always start with the foundations. A strong foundation increases its longevity and ensures it’s fit for purpose. The same principle applies to businesses, but instead of bricks and mortar, you need to build upon something else: your buyer personas.
What is a buyer persona?
Who is the customer? What do they want? What do they need? If you’re asking these questions, you’re already on the right track to creating a persona.
Simply put, a persona is a semi-fictional example of a customer who resembles a particular group of people. It’s a profile – often complete with name and picture – that clearly shows the group’s age, needs, drives and, perhaps most importantly, how and where they use the service or product that is being offered.
It’s important to note that one persona should not encompass the entire client base, but a subgroup of people that share common goals and challenges. You will probably end up with more than one persona for your brand, but that’s no bad thing. Also be aware that they should reflect the customer base how it truly is, not represent an idealised version.
Why do companies need them?
Buyers are 48% more likely to consider companies that personalise their marketing to address their customers’ needs, but less than half of B2B firms use personas. They’re missing out.
Using personas means that you understand your customer – you know what they want and how to engage with them. You also save time in the long run because if everyone in the team is on the same page, more time can be spent creating consistent, targeted content without wasting time and resources.
So how are they used?
Personas are used to help brands better understand what to focus on to get better outreach and drive engagement – learning about your ideal customer can help in setting a strategy aimed at attracting them to your business.
The information you gain from this process means that you can be more targeted in your approach. Does your audience mainly hang out on Facebook? Spend a little more on Facebook advertising. Are they 25-30-year-old men living in London? Get some new ads on Google to draw them in.
Your personas are also a great way to streamline your keyword research. Focus on the keywords that you know your customers are searching for so you can create content that answers their questions and solve their problems. You can use them for writing web page copy that will convert and pay-per-click campaigns that will bring more of your audience to your website.
5 steps to create your marketing personas
1. Analyse your audience
Gather as much information as you can about your current customers. Keep in mind that this needs to be an accurate representation of your current clients, not who you want your audience to be. These questions are a good starting point:
- How old are your customers?
- Where are they?
- What’s their level of education?
- What problems do they have that you can solve?
- What are their goals?
Use statistics from Google Analytics and order histories to help with this. Collate everything in one place – perhaps a Google Sheet or Doc so that everyone can have access to it.
2. Identify commonalities
Separate your audience into smaller groups based on shared goals or problems. Don’t rely on demographics – you’re looking for similarities in patterns and behaviour. Ideally you don’t want any more than three separate groups that combine to make your client base.
3. Get personal
Now it’s time to create your personas. Each one should have a unique name as well as an image that represents them. Make sure they reflect the age and experience of this part of your audience.
By humanising your personas with names and faces, you’re forcing yourself to think of them as people and it becomes easier to get into their mindset. Some companies even draw their persona’s face onto a piece of cardboard and give it a seat in meetings. You also need to include other information like their goals, social media preferences and problems.
4. Share your personas
Make your personas accessible to everyone in your business – everyone can benefit from them, not just your content creators. This will help keep everyone aligned and working to the same goals.
5. Use them
Your personas will help you tailor your content and company mission so that you can truly serve your customers. Remember that things might evolve when you introduce new products or services, or as the world and people change, so keep your persona documents up to date to reap the benefits.
4 examples of buyer personas
How much information you need and how you present your findings will depend on your business. Some will focus more on your target audience’s role in their company and who they report to, whereas others will look more into lifestyle and social media habits. As you can probably tell, there’s a split here between B2B and B2C personas.
So how can you present the information clearly? Well, here are some examples of buyer personas that might help you out.
The bare minimum
When it comes to B2C buyer personas, personal background, lifestyle and challenges are essential. They allow you to get a sense of what your customers need and want from your products or services.
In this particular example, originally published on propertyconnect.me, the necessary information is laid out clearly and the image provides marketers the chance to visualise who they are speaking to.
Everything is concise and compact, with easy-to-read bullet points giving the key points. Finding the information you need is straightforward.
Getting more detailed
This B2C buyer persona from Iron Springs Design provides much more information – it’s the perfect example of getting deep into the research to understand your target audience.
Packed full of bullet points, this persona covers influences, social media behaviour, worries and even her normal day. All of this creates a rich tapestry for marketers to dig their teeth into. They know exactly what makes this persona tick and they can plan their content and marketing strategies accordingly.
This persona also includes a quote under the image that highlights a main concern. This is what the company needs to be addressing, and it helps to ensure all efforts are focused on it.
The simple spreadsheet
Sometimes the easiest way to capture and present information is in a spreadsheet, and that’s absolutely fine. As you can see here with this B2B buyer persona example, it definitely works.
Everything is easy to read in this buyer persona (with the added bonus of being able to use Ctrl+F to find something), but there’s an extra field in this example. What do you need when you’re coming up with an effective SEO strategy? Keywords. All of this company now knows what terms they need to optimise for to get their content, products and services in front of their target audience.
It’s not the most visually appealing format, but if you require more substance than style, you’ll get on fine with this simple version.
Scales and bars
If you’ve got more than one persona, you might be looking for a way to highlight the differences between them. One way you can do this, like in this example from Suttida Yang, is by using scales and bars.
We can clearly see Tobi’s personality and how she interacts with technology and brands. It’s also good to use tiers and archetypes if you know them – they can provide valuable information when it comes to planning content and marketing.
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How have personas helped you with your marketing and content creation? Let us know in the comments, tweet us @TeamTillison or send us an email using the button below.