Knowing your target audience is a necessary step when starting any business or selling any product. What comes after that? It takes more than just having a general idea of who you are going to focus on selling to. It’s important to know why your customers are choosing your product or service and what challenges you are solving for them. That’s where the concept of Buyer Personas come in. It is the idea of creating a single customer who is a representation of your ideal customer or client. If there are multiple audiences you are trying to reach, you will have multiple personas. Developing who they are, what challenges they are facing and why they would buy your product. So how do you create a perfect buyer persona?

Before We Begin – Why Create A Perfect Buyer Persona?

Customer Persona Action FigureCreating buyer personas helps companies understand their customers for efficiently. This helps them better identify their needs and wants. If you know your customer is a male between the age group of 20–25 years and loves hockey, then you might want to promote your ads with movies that are related to hockey or based on hockey players rather a 90’s rom-com. This increases the chances of your customer buying the product, and reduces the time, effort and money spent advertising and marketing in areas where your audience doesn’t have much interest.

Having knowledge of your customers or creating buyer personas of customers helps in simplifying marketing efforts and improving sales while reducing expenses spent on marketing.

According to Kissmetrics,

  • “71% of companies that exceed their revenue and lead goals use personas
  • 56% of businesses have created higher quality leads, 24% have generated more leads, and 39% experienced higher conversion rates by using personas
  • 55% increase in organic search traffic
  • Email campaigns using buyer personas experienced twice the open rate and five times the click-through rate as those without them”

Getting Started with Creating A Perfect Buyer Persona

There are four major steps to follow when you are creating a new persona. Starting with research of your current audience, who they are, what they do, and where they come from. Then, using what you gather from the research, trying to find what your customers have in common with each other. Using that information we can can begin drafting who they are. Once you have created your persona, you want to test it out and get feedback on it.

Step 1 – Customer Research

What to Research When Creating Your Buyer Persona

The first step in creating your buyer persona is to figure out why your current customers chose you. But before you start talking to your customers you need to figure out what information you are looking for and what is important to know about them. After it’s all said and done, the ideal persona should include the following information:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Location
  • What Industry they work in
  • Job Title and Responsibilities
  • Their Goals
  • Their Frustrations
  • What they are interested in
  • Brands they prefer
  • Social Media they use
  • Who do they follow?
  • What are they influenced by?
  • What would they post on Social Media?
  • Breaking Point
  • Buying Trigger

With that information, you would be able to answer any questions about your persona and properly target them for content or products.

A marketing persona is a composite sketch of a key segment of your audience. ~Ardath Albee~ #Persona #Marketing Click To Tweet

Conducting The Research

You’ll want to start by figuring out what information you need, and how you’ll get it. There are many options to consider, and ultimately what works best for you may not work best for someone else. You could consider an email survey, a web form, cold calling, or numerous other ways to communicate with them. You can let them know that you are doing research for your company and would appreciate their input. If you wanted to offer an incentive for them that could also help get more responses from your customers. The more people you can get input from the better so you can build a more comprehensive database to build a perfect buyer persona with.

Who to Ask

We talk a lot about your customers and asking them questions about why they chose to purchase from you. But it can be equally as important, if not more important to ask previous customers. Depending on the relationship it could be fantastic insight on why they are no longer a customer, as it may be a consistent issue which can be addressed and included in as a frustration for your perfect buyer persona.

If you have a sales team, speak with them. They are a great resource and are usually in the front line in dealing with your customer. They could provide a unique insight into what your customers are looking for, what their concerns are, and what helps them make the decision to purchase.

If you have had a high customer turnover you could even consider looking at an Anti-Persona. But that’s a topic for another day.

What to Ask

You want to develop a mix of open and close ended questions that you can ask your customers. Open-ended questions are a great tool to use that allows you to get responses that don’t have defined answers. “What is your name?” or ” Have you tried organic peaches?” are close ended questions as the response will always be yes/no or a single answer response. Whereas an open-ended question such as ” What is important to you when you are buying groceries?” allows your customers to provide a more detailed response and provide you with information that you haven’t even ask for. An example response might be “I like going to a store that is clean and organized with the products I need at a great price.” Off of one question, you would learn that price, cleanliness, and having the products they want is what’s important to them.

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Example Questions

Here are a few questions that are fairly general to create a perfect persona but can be adapted to target a specific client.

  1. What do you do for work?
  2. What tools or devices do you need to do your job?
  3. Questions to ask about creating your perfect buyer personaWho do you report to? Who reports to you?
  4. What does your day to day work look like?
  5. How could you make your job easier?
  6. What is your goal this year to complete at work?
  7. What Industry would you say best represents your company?
  8. How many customers would estimate you have in a typical year?
  9. How many staff members are employed by your company?
  10. Are there any blogs, podcasts, or publications you subscribe to?
  11. How do you normally learn about current events?
  12. What types of Social Media are you are part of?
  13. How would you describe yourself?
  14. Are there any celebrities or companies you follow on social media?
  15. Do you have any personal goals that you are working on?
  16. What did you do before your current job?
  17. What is your preferred method to communicate with other people?
  18. How about with clients/ vendors?
  19. Is there any research do you normally complete before a major purchase?
  20. What is the most important thing to you when doing business with someone?

Build Your Question List

With that in mind, you can look at what information you need to get from customers and create a line of questions on your own that you can ask. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when creating your questions;

  • What are their likes and dislikes
  • What are the challenges they are facing
  • Who influences their decisions
  • How would your product solve their problems

With your questions ready, now is the time to start asking your customers.

Ask your customers to be part of the solution, and don’t view them as part of the problem. ~Alan Weiss~ #CustomerInput Click To Tweet

Step 2 – Analyze The Results

Compile The Feedback

After you have asked your questions, and are satisfied with the results, it is time to bring it all together. It’s important to bring everything together, especially if you have completed multiple types of questioning or it was completed by multiple people. Having everything in a single place makes reviewing the information simpler and reduces the risk of misplacing information. You can use something as simple as an Excel Worksheet to compile the information or as robust as using analytic software like Tableau or Looker by Google. Whichever you prefer and find fits your needs the best is fine.

Personally, I have always preferred an Excel sheet. It is a basic format that can organize information and if you are comfortable with Excel, you can generate some great reports. But there are upsides to using software, other than an easy to use system to gather your data. It can be more useful long term and for future projects or personas you will be building, as it is easier to reuse the data you already have. But the software will usually be accompanied by a larger expense than Excel.

What to Look For

Once all the results are together, you can start reviewing the information and looking for patterns. Are you seeing common threads or consistent comments that your customers have made? If you continue with the groceries question above and see that most people have replied that cleanliness is an important part of their experience in your buyer persona.

Identify Your Audience

It is also important to take a look at the demographics your customers have in common. This could include people from the same area or a certain age range that have similar frustrations or concerns. Or it could be that a reoccurring response among people in the same job position are looking for the best value.  This information may give you some key insights into aspects you should use when creating your buyer persona.

After reviewing the responses, and seeing what information you can identify, make sure to share the results with others, they could be your co-workers or someone else in your industry.

Gathering insight from different people with differentiating points of view may interpret the results differently or see patterns you didn’t notice. Having as much information and as many insights into the results will allow you to build a perfect buyer persona and possibly even give you ideas for future persona projects.

Step 3 – Create A Perfect Buyer Persona

Putting Your Research to Work

Now that you have identified what your customers have in common with each other you can start to put the personal information into your buyer persona. You want to go back to the information that was identified in the beginning.

  • Name
  • Age
  • Location
  • What Industry they work in
  • Job Title and Responsibilities
  • Their Goals
  • Their Frustrations
  • What they are interested in
  • Brands they prefer
  • Social Media they use
  • Who do they follow?
  • What are they influenced by?
  • What would they post on Social Media?
  • Breaking Point
  • Buying Trigger

Create a Name for Your Persona

While it may seem like a pretty basic part of creating a buyer persona, why does a name matter?  If instead of calling our Grocery Shopper persona “Martha” we just called her “Shopper 4” it wouldn’t have the same impact. Just like real people, names matter and can influence the success or failure of your personas.

You need to make sure that you pick a name that you and your team will take seriously, but also a name that will be memorable. The name of your persona is just as important as the photo you select for it, because it becomes the representation of that user. If we want our team to think of a persona as representing our customers, we need to provide them with a suitable and believable name.

Consider whether you will use just a first name, a full name or a nickname. Shorter names are faster to say and write like “Liz” over  “Elizabeth.” Common nicknames like “Will” instead of “William” could also be used.

For Joshua Lyons Marketing, we actually do real research to see what our persona’s name should statistically be. For example, one of our personas is Michael Smith. The reason for that is because based on the gender of the persona, they would be male. And based on his age, he would have statistically been most likely to have been named Michael. That was the most popular name given to baby boys the year he was born. And Smith was the most popular last name that year.

Ultimately, you want to pick a name that is easy to pronounce and remember.

Going Beyond the Demographics

Demographics include factors like age, gender, race and location. This is pretty basic information. You should also include their job and title. Personas, on the other hand, dig into the personality of the buyer, focusing on what makes them who they are, and what drives them to seek out the services or products you offer.

Looking for PatternsYou want to select a persona that accurately portrays your customer base. You are looking to target a segment of your customer base that would be considered the majority. If most of your customers are high-level executives in their late 40’s, you would not want to create your persona as an entry-level salesperson in their 20’s.

What are Your Buyer Persona’s Goals?

The goals and aspirations are positive objectives your ideal persona wants to achieve. Those goals might be personal or professional, depending on what your product or service is. Ultimately, this is what motivates your customers.

Your persona’s goals might be related to what you are looking to sell, but not always. Their goal may be to spend more time with their kids on the weekends. This is more about getting to know your customers than it is trying to match customers exactly to the features or benefits of your product.

Your persona’s goals are important even if they do not relate to your product They can be used to base marketing campaigns off of. Or they might simply alter the approach or tone you take in your marketing.

Try to establish three goals for your persona to allow for flexibility.

Frustrations of Your Persona

What problems or challenges are your potential customers facing? What is holding them back from success? This is where we can start to figure out how your product can solve the challenges your customers are facing. By giving your persona the frustrations your customer-base is facing, or your previous customers faced. You can start to figure out how you can solve those problems for them.

If you notice half your customer-base is facing issues with sales being down and the biggest challenge they face on a daily basis is not having enough time to finish their work. You can use that information to focus on how you could simplify their work or assist them with their daily challenges. Giving them more time to work on new sales, or increasing their customer base, will be a great way to resolve their frustrations.

What Does Your Buyer Persona do After Work?

This is a step that can be easily overlooked, as you may not understand why the interests of your persona are important. Better understanding your customers better can help you get more leads and more business. This helps you provide them better service, which results in stronger customer relationships and new sales through recommendations. So how does this relate to your persona?

Customers are looking for a seamless experience when purchasing your products. To do this, a business needs to be prompt and proactive in its approach and how it services customers. You can anticipate the needs of your persona and how you can make things easier and better for them, and implement those changes for your customers.

Building off of their interests, do a lot of your customers spend their free time scrolling Facebook, or taking pictures and sharing them through Instagram? If so, that could be a great way to connect with your customers. Does your persona spend all their time taking their kids to different sporting events? If so, that’s another way you can connect with them.

Knowing the brands your customer typically associates themselves with can also provide insight into their shopping choices. If you find your persona would tend to choose Apple products for all of their technology needs you know that they are looking for high quality items that integrate seamlessly together. However, if they have a combination of device brands, then maybe the price is a bigger factor for them.

What are they being influenced by?

For your persona, what will be impacting their decision. There are internal and external influences that could be affecting their decision. Internal factors such as having to get approval from their boss or a team. Or do they have external influences such as social media, reading reviews or advertising that they take into account when making their decision?

The Breaking Point

Knowing the frustrations of your persona, you should also know what their breaking point would be. What is the deal breaker for your persona? When do they stop considering a purchase and walk away? This could be something as simple as the price being a breaking point or bad customer service. Similar to knowing what your persona’s interests are, so you can be proactive in making things easier for them, you can anticipate and be proactive in preventing your persona from reaching their breaking point.

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What is Their Trigger?

One of the most important factors to consider for your persona is their buying trigger. But first…

Trigger written on sticky noteA buying trigger is an event that causes a buyer to have a clear need, which usually converts into a sense of purpose and urgency in their buying process. As an example in your own personal life, you might have had a vague interest in getting a new gaming computer. This might have caused you to browse the web, reading various reviews. But an upcoming game launch could act as the trigger that gets you shopping with clear intent to purchase.

Knowing the buying trigger for your persona is a major point in helping you convert browsers into buyers. Let’s pretend we are making a persona for a company that sells a SaaS for a scheduling program.

They learned through their research that most of their customers have been tasked with cutting their labor costs. Your persona already has the ROI information, the benefits of your program and they like it but are still thinking about it. A great trigger for them could be the first or second day of a new month. After they have gotten their reports on labor from the prior month could be the best time to have a follow-up call with the potential customer.

How Do You Create A Perfect Buyer Persona, or Personas?

You have completed a lot of work to create your perfect buyer persona, up to this point. In fact, you might only be using a very small portion of the data you collected from your research step. It could be time to consider creating more than one persona. It might be that you have enough contradicting information that you can build multiple personas using the same research.

You could choose to build opposing personas at the same time or start to plan a secondary persona to develop after you have completed the first one. But resist the urge to simultaneously work on multiple personas at the same time. Rather, focus on one at a time, to help maintain a consistent story throughout.

Building A Perfect Anti-Buyer Persona

What is an Anti-Buyer Persona

Customer personas can help marketers identify segments of their targeted audience. They also help identify the type of content or kind of service that will be of most value to them. But what about the customers you do not want to target? These people are also known as Anti-Buyer Personas or Negative Personas.

Much like a perfect buyer persona, these identities are made up of traits, characteristics, and buying behaviors of the people who fall outside of a target audience.

It is important to remember that anti-personas are not meant to deter or exclude customers. But are a way for marketers to enhance transparency, fine-tune their marketing and focus on the people who will benefit the most from your product. Using the information you have already collected you can determine what the characteristics of your Anti-Persona would be.

Step 4 – Testing Your Perfect Buyer Persona

Before you a ready to buy that new car, what is one thing you want to do first? Take it for a test drive. Present your new persona to your team. Explain to them who they are, why they would buy your product, and how the persona will be used. Get your team’s feedback and see if they have any input on changes they would recommend. Think about your current products or future products and how they would fit in with your persona. If you need to go back into the building stage to get it perfect, don’t be afraid to do so.

Stay UpdatedOnce you are completely satisfied with your persona, make sure to come back to it and use them for any marketing activity. As you build more personas you will be able to choose which marketing campaigns are going to target each persona. Your persona will always remain in this step, as it is important to regularly review your personas and see if they still represent your target audience.

Keeping your Persona Current

Customer personas represent your audience, and with time, they will evolve. You’ll need to revisit them on occasion. Given the changes in the economy, technology, customer needs and your business, it would be wise to do an annual review of your persona(s).

As your company grows and your customer-base changes over time, they will need to be updated to remain current. There may even come a time where you need to retire a marketing persona entirely as they no longer best represent your target audience. That is why you will need to continually refine your buyer persona.

Mistakes to Avoid When Building Your Persona

As with any research project, there are a multitude of ways personas can fail. Here are a few common mistakes that are sometimes made:

1. Being obvious and purely demographic. Go beyond the facts here. Bringing in unexpected insights and fleshing out your persona (without getting too detailed) will help bring them to life.

2. Focusing on your perceived ideal customer and not your real ideal customer. Don’t get caught up in who you think your ideal customer should be. When brands start to reject their core customer, it’s often the start of a slippery trip downhill.

3. Relying on your gut and not allowing the data to tell a story. Don’t rely on what you learned in school or what you have done before. Rely on the research as the facts for your market. Every customer-base is unique and requires different solutions.

What Might A Completed Buyer Person Look Like?

Name Ryan Cooper
Bio A family oriented man, who tries to make each day better than the last.
Age 43
Family Married, with 3 kids aged 4-15
Location Miami, Flordia
Job Senior Operations Manager for New Port Sandwiches. Averages about $16 million in sales across 12 locations. Works with Franchises and reports to the COO
Tools Microsoft Surface, Iphone, Desktop PC. Prefers to communicate by email.
Goals To lower total operating costs by 2%
Spend more time at home and see more of their kids football games
Wants to buy a new boat
Frustrations Long days combing through reports
Spends a lot of time going through different programs to compare reports
Not seeing results from long term projects
Interests/ Hobbies Football, family, boating
Social Media Facebook, Instagram, Fantasy Football
Follows Most of the Miami Dolphins, but none of the Tampa Bay Bucs. Tesla, Apple, Sony
Posts Doesn’t post much but uses it to keep in touch with friends
News Listens to ESPN podcasts, Apple News
Buying Trigger Lower priced solutions that can deliver the results. Uses Amazon for most purchases, looks heavily at reviews
Breaking Point Complicated processes, not user friendly
Other Notes Spends most days working in the restaurants working with their teams. Spends the afternoons doing paperwork
Went to UNLV
Started as a store manager with New Port Sandwiches, 12 years ago

You could certainly go further with this persona. But you get the idea. Ultimately, you want enough information so you know exactly how to market to your persona in a meaningful way. At the same time, you want to understand how not to market to your ideal client. For example, launching a massive Twitter, Tiktok and Snapchat campaign probably wouldn’t be too effective. And a good campaign might involve running paid ads for Amazon products on sports sites and Facebook.

Once you know how your persona thinks, you can create some solid marketing campaigns, designed to generate leads and sales.

If you need any assistance creating a marketing persona, please let us know. We would be happy to work with you on this. You can connect with us via the contact page or by using the contact form below.

Good luck with your persona making!

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About

Joshua Lyons Marketing, LLC was established in 2015. Since that time we have provided digital marketing services to business and professionals. We help our clients increase their online exposure as a means to increase sales and revenue. Our core services include search engine optimization (SEO), website development and content creation. We also provide other online marketing services, such as email marketing, marketing consultations and various types of advertising. Our team is based in the Milton, Pace and Pensacola, Florida area. However, we work with clients throughout the United States. Read More

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