What is a Buyer Persona?

Amanda Windsor
By Amanda Windsor

Time to define. A buyer persona is:

The fictional, generalized representation of your ideal customer(s).

This representation is highly descriptive.

It goes deeper than mere age and income. This is an all-encompassing understanding of the ideal client with details such as:

  • Education level
  • Values (personal and, if B2B, company values)
  • Their goals and challenges, particularly ones relevant to your products or services
  • Fears that may be objections in the buying process
  • Other brands they like and/or dislike
  • Favorite media and outlets, such as blogs, magazines and news sources
  • If B2B, their job title, responsibilities and type/size of company they work for
  • Lifestyle choices, such as the neighborhoods they live in, when and how they shop, and hobbies

Let’s say you are an athletic clothing apparel company. Newsletters need to speak to your audience. Are they long-distance runners? The type who loves long walks and gentle yoga? Someone who avoids the gym like their monologuing neighbor and opts for hikes instead?

Talking about why gear is great for marathons is not enticing to a mom who mostly does quick home workouts.

Creating a detailed description helps you visualize a realistic person to understand, help and communicate with.

As the Buyer Persona Institute shares1, “the ROI is this simple: When you know how to help buyers evaluate your approach on their own terms, you build a bond of trust that competitors can’t match.

Why Do Buyer Personas Matter?

To make your business a true and authentic success, it is vital to establish the right buyer persona for your brand.

At the most basic level, personas allow you to target marketing efforts to different, unique segments of your audience.

For example, sending the same lead-nurturing emails to everyone in your database is not highly effective. You may sell very different products or services that do not connect with each person effectively.

Instead, you can segment by buyer persona.

Knowing that person’s preferences and lifestyle, you can tailor your messaging to their unique likes and perspective.

In short, establishing these concrete personas for each type of ideal customer:

  • Helps you understand your customers (and prospective customers) better.
  • Enables you to create the most authentic and relevant content and promotional materials.
  • Attract higher quality leads.
  • Makes it easier for you to tailor content to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of the different types of people you seek to help with your product or service.

How Does a Buyer Persona Affect Marketing Specifics?

Let’s get into nitty-gritty ways that a buyer persona translates to stronger marketing.

Create the Right Offers

Buyer personas let you understand what offers will be enticing to your audience. Let’s say you run a travel website. If your target persona is a working dad of 3 kids with little time, a one month work-away experience in Vietnam is probably not the right option. Instead, share options for great places to take a family and itineraries that make a trip with kids that much easier.

More Effective Copywriting

When you know the specific type of person you are talking to, you can speak in their language. If you are a restaurant writing a promotion for a dinner deal, the lingo is very different to:

  • An 18-year-old boy starting college and on a major budget
  • A mom of 4 who is constantly on the run and craving date time with her husband
  • A 65+ grandma who loves to dote on her grandchildren

Choose the Right Platform(s)

Different audiences are active and engaging on different platforms.

For example, only 6% of people over 65 years old make up users on Twitter2. So, if you are targeting women between 65 and 70 years of age, look to other platforms.

In fact, according to Sprout Social, 62% of 65+ year olds do use Facebook3.

With data like that, the choice for where to target marketing efforts is easy.

How Do You Pick an Ideal Customer?

Picking a truffle from a box of chocolates is a guessing game. Naturally, we can make educated assumptions, but we never know for sure till we actually bite in.

Here’s the thing.

Marketing is quite different. A buyer persona should never be a guessing game.

We need to carefully figure out who the type of customer we serve best and want to serve is.

Conduct Market Research

The strongest buyer personas are based on market research, as well as on insights you gather from your actual customer base (through surveys, interviews, etc.).

Use this research to create more than one buyer persona.

How Many Buyer Personas Should You Have?

It is common to freeze at this point. How can you have just one buyer persona? After all, you have different types of offers. One may target high income earners and another be budget-conscious.

Example time. Let’s say there is a woman named Jenny, the nutritionist. She has one course on nutrition for moms who are expecting. Another course is for seriously buff bros into powerlifting.

Good news: She can (and should) have more than one buyer persona.

And you should, too.

It is standard for businesses to have 3 – 5 personas.

Each product or service is targeted to one of these specific personas and their unique likes and lifestyles.

The Steps to Define Your Buyer Persona

The process may feel daunting at first, but it is too important to sidestep. That is why we are providing a basic breakdown of how to create a buyer persona for your own brand.

To intelligently and accurately create your brand’s buyer personas, start with these 5 steps.

Host a Discovery Call

Set up a call to get initial insights.

On the call, discuss high-level goals and create initial assumptions about target customers based on key stakeholder feedback. By knowing the starting point, these assumptions will then be validated or disproved in the steps following.

Create an Internal survey

Start with your own people. Carefully create and send an internal survey to your entire company.

The goal of this survey is to capture:

  • Ideal customer information
  • Sales process info
  • Business communication information

The best part here is that the entire company is able to speak and give feedback throughout the process. Again, it is critical not to assume. The insights from the team members may surprise and shift the direction of goals moving forward.

What is the purpose of this internal survey?

  1. It shows if your company’s various departments and roles align. The feedback reveals if your offerings and “ideal” customers match up or vary widely through teams.
  2. This information provides further insights into the assumptions that will need to be validated and disproved by customers, market research, and data analysis. If half the company thinks you serve millennials solely and the other half thinks only half the target market is millennials, that needs to be tried and tested!

Send a Customer Survey

After the first 2 steps, you will the clarity to create more effective customer surveys. These help to fill in the gaps of your knowledge and see if the company’s viewpoints truly align with the consumers.

Since each company’s customers are unique, this survey needs to be tailored made for your customers.

In some instances, an online survey hosted on a platform like SurveyMonkey will be the ideal choice. In other cases, it makes the most sense to pick the phone up and call your customers directly.

Some factors that may affect your platform choice:

  • Age and comfort with digital resources and technology.
  • Longevity, if they are brand new to a product or been users for 15 years.
  • Desired style of conversation. For example, if you want to adjust questions based on the initial answers, it may be most effective to hop on a call vs. do an online survey.

Utilize 3rd Party Data Analysis

The beauty of the online world is the ability to collect and utilize data in a wide variety of ways.

The right tools make analysis easier and more effective. We recommend you leverage 3rd party tools, such as Facebook Automated Insights, Google Analytics, Tower Data, and more.

This data says goodbye to assumptions and focuses on facts. Dive in to further validate or disprove persona assumptions established during the discovery call, internal surveys and customer surveys.

Create Persona Templates

After this journey, you are ready.

Finally, based on the survey findings and data analysis, build out each buyer persona into a formal persona sheet. Keep it concise and visually pleasant, so it can easily be distributed to and understood by your internal team.

This keeps everyone on the same page and on track with communications and marketing efforts.

Combine Buyer Personas and Content Marketing

As mentioned, knowing your buyer persona helps create the right content and marketing communications.

If you are feeling shaky on exactly how to do that and why content is so important, check out What Are the Goals of Content Marketing?

Amanda is a PR & Outreach Manager at Power Digital Marketing where she spearheads all media relations and outreach initiatives. She’s passionate about executing campaigns that thoughtfully blend digital and traditional PR tactics to boost her client’s bottom line. Outside of the office, Amanda can be found supporting her beloved Liverpool FC (YNWA!), binge watching reality TV or breaking a sweat at CrossFit.