Buyer personas are vital to you as a marketer whether you are planning your marketing strategy, brainstorming new web content or redesigning your website. Smart marketers break down potential customers into audience segments called buyer personas to help them customize marketing efforts to their ideal clients.
Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers based on demographic data, online behavior, and your educated speculation about personal histories, motivations, and concerns. To help guide you in creating your buyer personas, we've created a checklist to step you through the process:
Brainstorm Your Buyer Personas
Personas consist of end-user customers, influencers, and those with purchasing authority. To develop a comprehensive list, think of your typical buying process. With whom do you first engage? Who influences that person? Who makes the final decision? Are your personas different across industries, product lines, service types, or company size?
Next identify personas who have similar needs or roles and consider merging them. Prioritize your persona list by considering their impact on the final purchasing decision, their relationship to your company, and the size of the audience persona group.
If a key influencer group has only a few members, you may decide it’s best for sales to own those relationships and not have marketing prioritize them as a larger group. You want to narrow down your list to three to five primary personas. Having too many personas becomes too complex to segment, especially when you’re just starting out.
Create Your Buyer Personas
Start by creating three personas and then build from this number to further refine them and generate new ones as needed. Identify the following types of information for each persona:
- Who are they? Include demographics such as gender, age, location, and education/degree.
- What is their job? Include data such as title, company size, industry, career path, and general job responsibilities.
- What is a day in their life like? Describe what an average day is like for them, who they work with, how they prefer to communicate, and what decisions they make.
- What are their primary pain points? Describe the primary challenges they are trying to overcome that relate to your products and services.
- What do they value most and what are their goals? Explain what they value most in making a purchase decision (price, support, etc.) and what they are trying to accomplish in their application.
- Where do they go for information? Identify the primary sources they use to gather information in their research and purchase decision processes.
- What type of information do they prefer? Consider the style of content they are seeking: content that inspires vs. concise guidance vs. a very thorough process including all of the research, specs, and
- What’s important to them when selecting a vendor? List what is most important, such as being a technology leader, having proven experience, being a domain expert, etc.
- What are their most common objections? List the reasons you hear most often for why your solutions will not meet their needs.
Map and Develop Content for Each Buyer Persona
Buyer personas serve many purposes for your company. As a technical marketer, you should keep your buyer personas in mind as your plan and implement your marketing plan. Every piece of content you create should be written with a buyer persona in mind. Now that you have developed your buyer personas, brainstorm content that will lead your persona through your inbound marketing funnel.
Evaluate Personas Once a Year
Just as your company grows and offers new products and services, your personas should grow and develop. Once a year, be sure to review your personas. As you spend more time with clients, you'll notice new things about them and what types of content help influence their buyer's journey. Discuss this with your sales and marketing teams and update personas to reflect new discoveries.
Bonus: Dig deeper with Buyer Personas Portraits
Having a profile of your buyers is a great first step, but ideally you take the time to go deeper and develop what we at TREW call the Buyer Persona Portrait. Think of it as having a correlation between the amount of information you have about your buyer and the effectiveness of your marketing to them – the greater the information, the greater the effectiveness. It makes sense but it’s not easy and it takes time.
When developing an in-depth buyer persona portraits, interview customers that match the persona to define more precisely these seven areas.
Our approach for this level of work is to truly treat it as a qualitative research project centered around customer interviews. By analyzing these customer interviews, you can better define your personas such as job roles represented on customer buying teams and who the decision-makers are vs. influencers, buying triggers that lead a buyer or buying team to begin searching for a solution, and the outcomes or benefits they expect to realize from their purchase. This information is pure gold for content planning, message creation and sales enablement materials development. Learn more about develop buyer persona portraits:
Using informed data, outside research when needed, and your collective experience to create your personas, and then ensuring leaders in your organization agree and understand them, can result in significant efficiency gains and employee confidence. When your buyer personas start to become part of your regular language and references to "Engineer Ethan" lead to heads nodding in agreement and understanding, you will experience the true power of personas.
Want to learn more about building your marketing foundation so you can strategically plan your marketing efforts? Download our free ebook, "Smart Marketing for Engineers: Build Your Foundation."