By Danny Grainger
Creating a buyer persona helps your business target the right customer. If done right, it will help you focus on a specific kind of person that is more likely to buy your product or service, and guide your company’s marketing efforts.
In this article, we will offer six useful tips to help you create the most accurate buyer persona for your business, and give you an example of what a good one looks like.
What is a buyer persona?
Buyer personas are detailed accounts of fictional people’s key characteristics. These people aren’t real, yet they embody the type of individuals who could potentially become your customers. More simply, it’s who you are marketing to.
Understanding what your customer thinks, sees, does, and feels is crucial for focusing your marketing efforts.
Of course, no two people are exactly the same, but we can group people who possess similar habits, interests, values, or lifestyles. These groups—also called customer segments—contain people who have specific shared characteristics.
6 steps to researching your ideal customer to develop a buyer persona
1. Identify your negative persona
The first step of creating your buyer persona is to determine who is not your target customer. Knowing who you cannot sell to is critical to understanding who you can sell to. Creating a negative buyer persona will help you focus on the right audience segment by eliminating the wrong one.
Here are a few questions you can use to get started:
- Do they need what you’re selling? This question may be obvious, but you should ask yourself how much a person needs what you have to offer.
- Can they afford it? Don’t waste resources on a consumer who may love what you have yet cannot afford it.
- Are they satisfied with your product or do they have unrealistic expectations? For example, this could be a customer that has purchased your product, but returned it because it didn’t meet their expectations.
- Are they likely to purchase from you again? You may be better off pursuing a consumer who is likely to continue buying your product. Focusing on a one-time customer may not be the most cost-effective strategy.
- Are they too advanced or not advanced enough for what you have to offer? Knowing your product’s or service’s limitations is paramount to focus on the right audience.
Once you have eliminated people who aren’t suitable customers, it’s time to figure out what type of customer will love your offering and who will be good leads for your business. Finding who will want your product allows you to look at your product or service from the perspective of your clients—you need to see your work as they see it, not as you do.
2. Determine who your audience is
Get to know your customers by going to them directly. Use online surveys, conduct live interviews, and analyze data from website visits. Focus on their demographics, beliefs, values, geography, and lifestyles; take note of gender, age, hobbies, family, income—be as thorough as possible.
Reading through the testimonials, reviews, and comments on social media of other businesses in your niche also provides a great way to get to know who your customers are.
Once you know who you want to sell to, you will then need to learn what they want.
3. Identify your audience’s goals
Here you want to gather information on the things your ideal customer wants to accomplish. These goals must revolve around your product or service, and how your offering will help your customer achieve their goals.
Goals may be short-term ones, such as going on vacation; career goals, like a promotion; lifestyle changes, such as spending more time with their children; material objectives, such as a new car. Whatever the customer wants, think about how your product or service can help them achieve it.
You can discover these goals by directly approaching the generalized demographic segment you identified in step #2 (who is your audience?). Ask yourself how you can help your customers reach their end goal. Even if their plans do not precisely fit with your product, it’s still important to understand what your customers are trying to achieve.
4. Find your audience’s pain points
Pain points are the opposite of goals. Find out what problems your customers are trying to solve, and what is preventing them from achieving their goals.
An invaluable resource for discovering pain points are Amazon reviews. Search for products or services similar to yours, filter reviews to 1-2 stars, and record every negative thing customers have complained about.
Pain point information will help you twofold: to develop the essential features of your offering, and how to advertise your product or service to your audience.
5. Study your competition
This tip is especially useful if you’re a new business owner or wanting to launch a new product. Research your competition to find out who their target customers are. Visit competitors’ websites and conduct SEO competitor analyses with the the help of online SEO tools. Figure out how to differentiate yourself from the competition and emulate their best practices.
6. Engage in social channels
Finding out where your customer communicates online is essential to developing a targeted marketing strategy for generating new leads. Study their online habits:
- Where do they spend most of their time online?
- What are they interested in?
- How do they speak about your business or similar businesses?
Visit related Facebook groups, go to online forums such as Quora and Reddit, follow Instagram or YouTube accounts and read the comments—there is a wealth of knowledge on social media about who your audience is.
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Create your buyer persona
Once you have researched who your customers are, it’s time to create your buyer persona. Even though you are not creating a real person, you want to make this fictional character realistic. Aim to create a profile with as much detail as possible. Including a picture and a name will make it even more lifelike. If your list looks something like this, you’re on the right track:
- She is 32 years old
- Married with one child, seven years old
- Owns a dog
- Lives in the suburbs
- Works in HR at a tech company
- Drives an SUV
- Enjoys hiking and camping
- Wants to keep her family active and healthy
- Wants to get a promotion
- Doesn’t have enough free time
- Active on Facebook and YouTube
From this simple buyer persona, a SaaS software business could develop a marketing strategy that focuses on Facebook and YouTube ads, highlighting how their product streamlines the HR process to help professionals get more free time to spend in the great outdoors with their family.
Note that while one person doesn’t represent an entire customer segment, they are still a good representation of who your ideal customer is in any given segment.
Developing a buyer persona is an ongoing process
Buyer personas should always be a work in progress. You have to learn from your customers to better sell to them. Use the profiles to decide how to create useful social media content and precise advertising campaigns.
Knowing how your customers think, see, and feel about your product or service is your key to generating better leads for your business.
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