Buyer personas are a critical foundational element of a sound marketing program. Getting agreement among leadership, sales and marketing about your company’s buyer(s) enables you to ensure every dollar and hour spent designing your website, creating and marketing content, or developing your trade show message delivers the exact kind of leads you need to drive growth. In lieu of defined personas, your efforts are less targeted and thus, less effective.
Fortunately, with so much data available today about the buyer journey moving online, and the control shifting away from marketers and into the hands of your customers, many are leading the change to ensure their teams have their personas defined.
A starting point is to create what we call at TREW the buyer persona profile. That is a high-level overview of the buyer’s demographics, goals, challenges and primary information sources. Often you can create these by interviewing your sales team, leadership, and even a few customers if you can. Once you have a solid draft, you can keep tweaking it with new or more accurate information as more is learned or agreed-upon about the buyer.
Example Buyer Persona Profile
Given the low-cost and high-impact of creating your persona profile, there’s hardly an excuse not to do at least this level of effort. And you’d be amazed at the high-quality of information you learn, as a marketer, by leading a persona profile discussion (or maybe a heated debate depending on the personalities around the your company’s table). Don’t skip the step of selecting a picture that best represents the persona – sometimes that’s when the most enlightenment comes.
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.
Our approach for this level of work is to truly treat it as a qualitative research project centered around customer interviews. While it’s different than traditional research in the sense that the approach is more flexible and each conversation varies, it is quite similar in the amount of data you gather and the analysis that is required to identify themes that become the basis for your persona portrait. By analyzing the qualitative data from the interviews, you can define more precisely persona elements 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. Having this kind of information is pure gold for content planning, message creation and sales enablement materials development to name a few.
For in-depth resources about all-things buyer persona, check out the valuable resources Adele Revella and her team offers through the Buyer Persona Institute, including research studies, tools, and her book. For a quick snapshot of how to get started, here are a few recommended steps to efficiently create your buyer persona portrait:
- Start by defining your higher-level buyer persona profiles
- Choose one to create a deeper dive persona portrait
- Identify 10-15 customers you believe match the persona who would be willing to be interviewed for ideally up to an hour
- Create an interview script with questions tied to each of the portrait focus areas
- Allow interviews to take their own direction as needed to gain the most value from each one while keeping in mind the key areas you’re defining
- Define themes for each area and consider creating a “top 5-10” findings
- Complete 75% of your interviews and then share the draft findings and themes with a few on your internal branding or leadership committee to get reactions. Compile questions to inform how to best use the final 25% of your interviews.
- Draft your persona portrait and find an opportunity to present the findings more formally to your sales, marketing and leadership teams
- As part of your presentation, use this captive audience to begin a brainstorm around 1-2 content clusters for this persona
- Create sales cards for your sales team and placards to post around meeting and department spaces to serve as an active reminder of your buyer
Talk to TREW Crew today about our buyer persona profile and portrait services or listen to our Website Strategy webinar to learn more about the role of buyer personas in defining your next website.