Do you ever struggle to fully connect with your audience? Customers are a fickle breed these days as they are often overwhelmed by the amount of choice they have as consumers. If your advertising and marketing campaigns are floundering, and your social media outreach doesn’t seem to be driving any business, then it’s time you started creating buyer personas.
Creating buyer personas is one of the most effective ways you can create engaging content for your audience. This process involves you creating a fictional person or persons, aka buyer personas or sales personas, that represent your ideal customer(s) or audience segment. Their interests, beliefs, behavior, and characteristics need to reflect the kind of people you’re aiming to sell to.
With these buyer personas in place, you can create content that’s high quality and more engaging. They require high-quality data gathering to be truly effective, but once you have this data in place, sales personas will prove invaluable to you. The first step is simple, you need to research who and what your target audience is.
How to create a buyer persona – Start with research
When you’re researching your target audience you should start with the basics. Look for easily identifiable information like location, demographics, average income level. You’re looking for broad commonalities amongst your customers, what do they have in common? what unites rather than divides them?
Once you’ve identified the common denominators, you can start digging a little deeper. Look for more specific criteria, for example, by narrowing your age range from 18-45 to 25-35. You’re not limited in the number of small groups you can examine but do try to make them as specific as possible.
After you’ve passed this stage you need to narrow your audience down a little more. You can achieve this by sending out surveys and questionnaires to individuals in your smaller customer segments. Be specific with your questions, and based on the respondents’ answers, you can develop a series of ideal customers for your business.
Set up real-world interviews with people that match your ideal customer profile
Setting up in-person interviews is a great way to start creating your buying personas. You need your personas to be as realistic as possible which is why the interviews can be so helpful. They allow you to put emotional meat on the informational bones of your personas.
Finding people to interview might seem difficult, but with the right incentives, it doesn’t need to be. Using an automated outreach tool like Revenue Engage can make finding and contacting the right people easy. You’ll be able to use Salesforce list views to find groups of ideal candidates and set up automated messaging to reach them. Offer to compensate them for their time, especially with discounts or free use of your product if it’s subscription based.
You have two options at this point, you can either do one-on-one interviews, or you can set up group interviews. Different interview styles will be more applicable depending on your product and its price range. For example, if you’re creating buyer personas for niche, expensive products, you might prefer the one-on-one approach.
If you’re creating sales personas for mass-market products then you might prefer to use the group approach. Regardless of your choice, you need to collect as much information as possible. Look to gather information about their hobbies, ambitions, communication habits, social media use, anything that could give your sales and marketing teams a better understanding of the individuals they’re selling to.
Narrow down the details (again)
Your live interviews will have given you good information to work with. Now you need to narrow the details down into groups which you will subsequently base your sales personas on. This is because the sales personas you create need to match specific customer pain points.
For example, if you’re selling nutritional products you should create at least two sales personas. The first should be someone who is looking to lose weight. The second should be the opposite, someone who is looking to boost their weight and muscle mass.
You’re selling similar products but your customers have very different needs, therefore they require different sales personas. Be as detailed as you can at this stage and consider how many buyer personas you need, without going too far. Ideally, each product should address 3-5 pain points, and should have a similar number of personas.
Create buyer personas and give them names
Now you come to perhaps the most important stage which is actually creating your buyer personas. Don’t forget to give each one a name. The exact information you include will depend on your product and audience, but you can usually follow a basic template like this one;
1. Photo – Make it professional and friendly, no selfies, please
2. Biography – Add their career background, education achievement, and family size
3. Demographics– Note their demographic background and audience membership
4. Needs – Fairly self-explanatory but needs to refer back to the product
5. Challenges – ‘Real examples’ of issues they’ve faced that your product can solve
6. Sales Objections – Give examples of objections that this person could have to your product and how they should be overcome
7. Quote – Sum up your sales persona in one quick soundbite
Confirm your personas with the relevant team members
Don’t expect your personas to be perfect right from the start, what’s important is that you’ve created a strong foundation. Depending on the size and structure of your organization, there will be other teams like sales, management, customer success, and even product teams that will be interested in seeing and commenting on them.
Make sure that the teams in your organization that have close contact with your existing customers agree with the pain points and the messages addressing them, and make time to work together to sharpen them to perfection.
Implement your personas
Now it’s time to bring your personas into your business. Release them to the teams that need them and encourage people to review the personas and imagine that they are dealing with these very individuals in their daily work.
The personas will help customer-facing teams understand the people that they might encounter or want to find, and how best to approach them. For internal teams, the personas can serve as a benchmark for applicable messaging and a resource and source of inspiration.
Companies and markets change with time, and you should be prepared to modify your personas as time goes on. If possible, set up a process to periodically check that they are up to date so that they can continue to inform your marketing and customer-facing efforts.