When you think of your ideal customers, who do you envision? How old are they? What are their likes? Motivations? Goals? These might not be questions you’re used to asking yourself yet, but they’re essential ones if you want to better understand your potential clientele.
In the marketing world, buyer personas are a handy method of laying all that information out for yourself in one spot, and they can provide fantastic guidance on where you should focus your efforts for lead generation (among other things). With that in mind, let’s examine how you can start crafting some thorough personas of your own.
Buyer Personas at a Glance
In a nutshell, your buyer personas are research-backed profiles that characterize your target audience. These profiles describe what your ideal customers like — their typical age, location, and attitudes (to name just a few details). Buyer personas go beyond mere profiles, however, as they also provide a view into your customers’ their likely habits, how they might view certain topics, and how they make decisions.
This deeper understanding of your clientele’s thought processes allows you to better align your marketing decisions to meet their expectations, forging a bond of trust and understanding that will surpass that of your competitors — should you play your cards right.
As the appeal of your brand may vary, it’s not uncommon to have more than one buyer persona. Through your research, you’ll identify and classify different sorts of prospects, and should be able to use this information to tailor personas for multiple audiences.
The base for any detailed buyer persona should be thorough research. You’ll need to get a handle on who your customers are, what they want, and why they might turn to your brand to satisfy their desires, and to learn that, you’ll need to ask questions. Few options can compare to going straight to the source, so your first step should be seeking out customer feedback through surveys, polls, and one-on-one interviews.
If you’re going the route of surveys or polls, know that there’s no “one-size-fits-all” list of questions for gathering the information you need. You’ll have to put some thought into what specifics you want to capture, but, there are some general questions that can help you get started on brainstorming, which include:
- Marital Status
- Level of Education
- Job Status/Title
- Where They Work
- What Skills They Possess
- What Matters on the Job
- Their Daily Routine
- Who’s Their Boss
- How They View Success
- Their Career Challenges
- Their Career Plans
- Their Hobbies
- How They Spend Free Time
- What Social Media They Use
- How They Communicate
- How They Consume Information
- Their Group Affiliations
Values & Concerns
- What They Feel Is Important
- How They Evaluate a Brand
- How They View Your Product/Service
- What Might Make Them Wary of Your Product/Service
- How They Make Decisions
As you can see, the list of sample queries doesn’t just delve into general details about your customers, it’s an attempt to figure out how they think and what they find important. This information is invaluable from a marketing standpoint, and you should feel free to remix those questions to gather the information you need to create solid personas.
Now, what if you’re thinking about conducting some one-on-one interviews instead of (or in addition to) your questionnaires? You’ll likely be asking many of the same questions as above, but you’ll want to think carefully about how you select your interview candidates.
Your current customers are obviously a great source to pull from for interviewees, but know that they aren’t the only well you can draw from. You’ve also got plenty of prospects out there — individuals who might be inclined to use your products or services, but haven’t yet and may not know much about your organization.
Keep in mind that sometimes, it can be difficult to get candidates to agree to an interview, which is why it’s your job to make the offer one that’s hard to refuse. For some candidates, you might need to “sweeten the pot” with few incentives (gift cards usually fit the bill, but feel free to get creative. You can also increase your chances of netting a response by working around your potential interviewees’ schedules, and emphasizing the fact that the meeting will be no pressure — you’re not out to sell them something, you’re just trying to gather information.
You can supplement your surveys, polls, and interviews with analytics gained from your website. Information on where visitors to your site are coming from, what platforms they’re using, how long they’re staying, etc. can help you further tweak your image of what your ideal customers are like, so don’t forget to collect this data as well.
While you’re performing your research, you’ll also want to take negative personas into account. As you’re putting together a picture of your ideal customer, take the time to consider who doesn’t fit the bill as one of your customers. You can use this information in your marketing as a model of who to avoid in your efforts, and further tweak your efforts to exclude individuals who won’t yield results.
Crafting Your Buyer Personas
Once you’ve gathered an ample amount of information, it’s time to start connecting the dots. Seek out the patterns between the responses to your questions to fine-tune the temperament of your customers, then organize that information to form your personas.
Start with the basics — demographic information — then move onto more complex information like values, motivations, challenges, how your brand fits into their world, and the like. It’s easier said than done, but the following example should help you get started. Here’s a hypothetical sample of what you might come up with if you were creating buyer personas for one of my favorite fictional go-tos — the local music store:
- Title: Violin Vicky
- Overview: Classically-trained private music instructor who plays it “by the book.” Works with children aged seven through seventeen. Studied music at the University level.
- Demographic Info: Female. 34 Years Old. Makes $40,000/year. Lives in Maryland. No Children.
- Challenges: Finding performance pieces that will hold her students’ interest. Incorporating new techniques and activities into lesson plans.
- Fears: Losing students due to an outmoded approach to teaching.
- Motivations/Goals: To teach her students proper technique while simultaneously making lessons fun. Gain more students by the end of the season.
- Hobbies: Traveling with her sister. Attending symphonic concerts. Watching Anime. Playing retro video games.
- Possible Objections: “It’d be nice to include some popular music in the rotation, but I’m not sure where to start or what pieces would convey the lessons I’m trying to teach.”
Feel free to go into as much detail as you need (such as additional personal details), just make sure that detail will help inform the decisions you’ll be making down the line when it comes to sales and marketing. Remember that while the buyer persona is a generalization, you still want it to address what drives your customers’ thoughts and behaviors. Paint a picture of their daily life, what some of their “pain points” are, how they look for information, what they are trying to achieve, and how you can help. You might even consider adding a photo to each persona you create to further humanize them and help your team concoct a better mental image of who you’re trying to target.
With that, you should have what you need to start crafting your own amazingly detailed buyer personas. Remember that these personas don’t exist in a bubble, though, and you’ll be using these to help you refocus your efforts to gain customers. So, once you’re done crafting a few worthwhile profiles of your own, be sure to check out the next post in this series, where I delve into how you can leverage your buyer personas for maximum benefit.