Develop Your Buyer Personas Before Creating Content
Updated: Jul 7, 2019
You can’t effectively market a product or service if you don’t understand your target market and who your ideal customers are. What are their goals? What are their biggest problems? How can your business solve their problems? Buyer personas give you insights into the way your customers think and act.
A target market is a group of people most likely to be interested in your product or service.
Buyer personas are semi-fictional characters who represent your ideal customer. These personas are built on insights you acquire from researching, surveying or interviewing your customers. Buyer personas include demographics but also provide a deeper level of understanding into what their days are like, the challenges they face and how they make decisions.
Defining your target market will give you a high level picture of who you wish to target, while buyer personas will go deeper into the range of behaviors behind why they take certain actions.
Women aged 30 - 38 with kids under the age of 10 years old. Household income over $100K. City dwellers, well-kept & health-minded.
Female aged 30 - 38 with 2 kids under the age of 10 years old. Household income over $100K. She lives in Chicago or Los Angeles. She gets her bi-weekly blowout at the hair salon and goes to yoga class at least once a week. Her favorite clothing retailer is Nordstrom, She
buys her groceries at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods and pays careful attention to the ingredients in the products that she buys .....etc., etc.
Why Are Buyer Personas Important?
By clearly defining buyer personas, you can better understand your customers (and prospective customers) behavior and needs which allows you to tailor your content, messaging, products and services to attract and retain customers.
Personas will help you determine:
What problems do customers need to solve, and how does your business help them?
What type of content and formats will generate the best response rate?
What messaging is the most effective at attracting and converting customers?
How to Create Buyer Personas
Your buyer personas must be detailed to be effective. To get an in-depth understanding of your target market, start by researching your existing customer base. Your existing customers have already purchased your product and engaged with your brand, so they are the most targeted group to look at. The goal is to ask questions that will help you to understand what your ideal customer wants, what they need, their pain points, what they’ve tried before in the past, and what they are hoping to do in the future.
Try to conduct at least seven (7) customer interviews so that you can collect an adequate amount of information. You can send out a personalized email to your top customers and say that you are doing research to better serve them, and ask if they would be available for a brief 10 to 15 minute call. You can conduct the interview over the phone, through Skype or Google Hangouts. Make sure you record the call as you will want to go back and write down exact phrases your customers used. The words your customers use to answer your questions will help you craft future ad copy, emails, landing pages, lead magnets, and so on.
You can also research your target audience with a survey that you can send to your email list. Some people may be more comfortable disclosing information about themselves through a survey rather than verbal communication. Send the survey to both your customers and your prospects. You can use tools like Survey Monkey, Typeform, or Google Forms to create surveys. It’s a good idea to provide an incentive in the form of an online gift card or discount on your product/services to increase the participation rate.
If you don’t have an existing customer base or email list that you can talk to or survey, then research your competition and find out who their customers are.
Visit your competitors websites and social media pages to learn who their content and messaging appeals to. Check out the comments under their blogs and social media posts to see what their audience is talking about and what kind of questions they are asking. Discover what your competition isn’t providing to their customers and determine how to uniquely position yourself to fill in that gap.
To probe even deeper into your competition's target audience, poke around a few of their most engaged followers social media profiles to learn more about them: What they like, what they don’t like, the types of photos they post, the people they follow and the hashtags they use. Yes, it may be borderline stalker-ish, but it’s all in the name of consumer research. :-)
Also, go to where your target audience hangs out online, this could be online groups and forums or other industry-related blogs and publications, basically anywhere your target customers talk about their lives and seek advice on problems related to your product or service. Pay attention to the topics and questions that often come up.
Frequently asked questions
Frequently asked questions from your prospects and customers is a gold mine for information about your target market's challenges and needs. These questions can come in many forms including emails from customers or comments and questions on social media. Use this information to help you develop your buyer personas.
Website and social analytics
Google Analytics provides data on your website audience demographics and interests. You'll be able to see where your site visitors came from, the keywords they used to find you, and what pages or blog posts are the most effective at attracting traffic that converts. In addition to Google Analytics, social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn provide demographic and engagement behavior data on your audience.
Compile and Analyze the Data
After you collect all of your data, separate it into categories, such as demographics, geography, lifestyle, and pain points, and then look for trend patterns. For example, are you seeing a concentration of women in their early 30s? Live in coastal towns—or even specific cities. Are you seeing similar hobbies too? Find as many trends or patterns in this data as possible and make a note of them.
You'll likely find your business attracts more than one type of customer in which your market consists of a variety of people who don’t share the same demographics, pain points, interests, etc. That’s why you should segment your market by creating multiple buyer personas. When you segment your market, you split it up into sub-groups of people who do share common characteristics. You’ll want to narrow down the most common details about your target customers and organize those details into separate personas.
Different people buy the same products or services for different reasons. For instance, one woman might schedule spa days once a month as a regular treat to herself as an escape from her busy and hectic lifestyle. On the other hand, a different customer might book a day at the spa as a bi-annual indulgence or maybe it was a birthday gift from her spouse. These are two different customer personas, and each sub-group will require different marketing messages aimed at them.
Depending on the nature of your target audience, you can have a various amount of personas. However, the general rule is 3 to 4.
Create Your Buyer Persona
Once you’ve compiled and analyzed your data, you are ready to create your buyer persona profile. This exercise is where you’ll actually write down everything that you know about your ideal customer. You can use a buyer persona template (there are many templates available for free online) to plug in the details you’ve learned about your target customer.
You should include:
Demographic information such as age, gender, location, marital status, education level, income
Personal background including hobbies and interests
Goals and challenges (related to your product or industry)
How your product or service fits into their life
Social media use and communication preferences
Any objections or barriers to purchase they might have
Below are some examples of different types of buyer persona profiles.
Always Keep Your Buyer Personas in Mind
There’s a lot of online noise, but when you are focused on your specific target customer your message doesn’t get overlooked and it stands out to the people who will resonate with your content and messaging the most. Buyer personas help you understand your ideal customers better and make it easier for you to tailor your content, messaging, product development, and services to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of your different customer segments. When your ideal customer feels like you are talking to them and you know how to get them results or the transformation they are looking for it is easier to attract new customers, compel them to engage and ultimately make a purchase.