A Beginners Guide
Buyer Personas are a powerful tool that can transform the effectiveness of your messaging and marketing campaigns, by helping you to clearly define your target customers.
In this three-part beginner’s guide to defining buyer personas, also known as a customer persona, we’ll look at what a buyer persona is, how buyer personas can enhance your marketing campaigns and how to define personas for your own business.
You can also download our free buyer persona templates.
Part 1 - The Definition
What is a Buyer Persona?
Buyer Persona Definition: A buyer persona is a fictional profile of a person who represents an ideal target audience for your product or service.
The profile will include that person’s demographics - for example, their age, gender, occupation, salary, marital and family status.
However, it will also include things like their goals, motivations, challenges they face, their core values and even their fears. These attributes are often referred to as “psychographics”.
Typically, buyer personas will also include the name of this fictional person and even feature a picture to show in a very literal sense what that person might look like.
Part 1 - What Does a persona look like
Buyer Persona Template
This is one example of what a buyer persona template might look like. You will see that it includes both demographic and psychographic information for a fictional customer named “Kate”.
It is important to note that there is really no limit as to what information can add to your buyer personas. For example, the template includes a section on hobbies, but you could also list brands this person might value or even which celebrities they admire!
Generally, the more detail you are able to add to your buyer persona, the more effective and informative it is likely to be.
Part 1 - Customer Segmentation
Why Create a Buyer Persona?
To understand the reasons for creating a buyer persona, it’s helpful to concentrate on that second word “persona” and in particular, it’s similarities to the word “personal”.
By creating a buyer persona, you are shifting your thinking from seeing your customers as broad groups of people with various shared characteristics, to considering them as individuals, each with their own specific needs.
Part 1 - Cut though the noise
Why Customer Personas Are Important?
Remember that your potential customers are targeted by hundreds, possibly thousands of marketing messages every single day. We see them on television, when passing billboards on the bus and even when checking our emails.
In this crowded marketing environment, the only messages that are going to cut through the noise are those that connect to a person in a meaningful way.
To be able to connect to customers in a meaningful way, we need to understand what motivates them on a personal level. It’s here that buyer personas can truly enhance your marketing and communication campaigns.
Part 2 - B2B & B2C Customer Persona Example Uses
How To Use A Buyer Persona to Enhance Your Marketing
Let’s say that you own and manage a children's daycare centre.
You already know that your customers have young children, it’s likely that they are employed because they need your services, and you might also estimate that all of your customers are at least 21 years old.
This information is helpful for understanding how many potential customers you might have. However, it doesn’t give you the kind of insights you need to target customers effectively, or to craft messages that will really speak to them on a personal level.
Using Personas To Inform Better Targeting
It’s likely that you use digital and social media advertising as part of your digital marketing mix.
Let’s say that you run a Facebook advert for the daycare centre, targeting all married women with children, aged 21 and upwards, who have full-time jobs and live in the local area. This audience is likely to comprise thousands of women, from different age groups, in different life-stages and with vastly different values and priorities.
Alternatively - you can try to target “Kate” by using the buyer persona above to narrow down your audience to one that closely resembles her.
In this instance, you might look to target those women who are around the same age as Kate, who show an active interest in running & fitness, and/or own a dog. You could even start to think about what brands Kate might like and use that to define your audience even more clearly.
Your buyer persona can also inform which platforms you choose to advertise on. For example, there is no point in setting aside a budget to advertise on Instagram if it is unlikely that Kate will be active on this platform.
Using Personas To Craft Better Marketing Messages
Before looking at your buyer persona, the message used for your Facebook advert may look something like this:
“Sunflower Daycare Centre is open from 7.30am - 6.30pm every weekday for children aged 4 to 11 years old. We have state-of-the-art facilities and friendly, professional staff.
Call now to arrange a no-obligation visit!”
This simple marketing message actually includes many essential elements - it provides key information, communicates what the centre can offer and features a clear call to action.
However, let’s try to write a new message using the buyer persona for Kate. We know that Kate is motivated to ensure her children progress at school, but we also know that household finances can be a challenge.
Using the buyer persona as a guide, we are able to create a marketing message that directly appeals to Kate:
“Introducing the “Homework Club” at Sunflower Daycare Centre, where our trained professionals will help your child complete their schoolwork to the best of their ability.
Call us now and quote “Homework Club” for 25% off your first week with us.”
While buyer personas are not a golden ticket to better marketing campaigns, they are essential tools to help you define your audiences, while giving you the level of insight required to deliver effective marketing messages.
Part 3 - Gathering Insights
How To Create A Buyer Or Customer Persona
To create buyer personas for your business, you will need to carry out thorough research to understand who your current customers are, what kind of lives they lead and what motivates them to purchase products or use services.
Luckily there are a number of easy ways to find out information about your customers without having to spend money on formal research methods such as focus groups.
We have outlined three sources of insights for you below.
1. Analytics - For Gathering Demographic Data
You can get plenty of rich data and information about everyone who visits your website using Google Analytics.
Similarly, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have bespoke tools to give you insights and analytics for those who follow your business on social media.
2. Surveys - For gathering Psychographic Data
It’s easier than ever to survey your customers - from asking them to fill out a physical questionnaire to hosting single-question polls on social media.
There are several free-to-use tools available to help you put together online surveys, such as Google Forms or Survey Monkey.
Thanks to the ability to ask specific questions, surveys are the ideal place to understand the values and motivations your customers have.
3. Employees and Competitors
Employees are often on the “front-line” of your business, for example managing the shop floor or taking customer service calls. They are uniquely placed to understand customer pressure points in particular.
It’s also easy to look at which types of people are interacting with your competitors on social media. It might be that competitors are interacting with demographics that you aren’t currently focused on, or fielding questions about subjects that you didn’t previously deem relevant.
Part 3 - Type Of Customer Personas
Once you’ve gathered together all this information, you’ll start to see that certain characteristics are shared by multiple customers.
These groups of customers will form the basis of your buyer personas and the final step is to turn each group into a single “person” or persona.
For example - let’s say you identify a group of female customers aged 29 - 39, who live in the suburbs and belong to a middle-class family with each parent in full-time work.
Start to think of that group of people as one person - give them a name (e.g. Kate), describe their defining characteristics and the demographics they belong to. Use our example template and the questions below to help you, and it won’t be long before you have your first buyer persona!
How Many Buyer Personas Should I Have?
It’s likely that you’ll have multiple personas, although for most businesses no more than 3 - 4 personas will represent the vast majority of your customer base.
Remember that you’re looking for shared characteristics - think carefully before creating a buyer persona which represents very small groups of customers or outlying individuals.
Part 3 - interview questions to ask customers
Buyer Persona Questions
We’ve put together a list of 30 questions to ask your customers which will help you to define the buyer personas for your business.
As the business owner, you need to understand the answer to the key questions. Underneath each one, are the specific questions you might ask a customer in a survey.
As always, remember that this is not an exhaustive list and you are free to add your own questions. You can also download our buyer persona questions template below.
Who are they?
- Please state your gender
- Please tell us your age
- What is your job title?
- How much do you earn monthly / annually?
- What skills do you need to perform your job?
- What industry do you work in?
- Where do you stay (i.e. location)?
What does their family life look like?
- What is your marital status?
- Do you have children? if so, how many and what age are they?
- What type of home do you live in?
- What does your partner do for employment?
- Do you have any pets? if so, what type of pets are they?
What are their hobbies and interests?
- Please list any hobbies or interests that you have?
- Do you belong to any groups or organisations? if so, can you list these please?
What are their professional aspirations?
- What goals do you have on a professional level?
- What will it mean to you to be successful in your role?
- How do you intend to reach your aspirations (i.e. further education, online learning, mentoring etc.)?
What are their personal dreams and aspirations?
- What goals and aspirations do you have on a personal level?
- What goals and aspirations do you have with regard to friends and family?
What are their biggest challenges and pressure points?
- What represents some of the biggest challenges you face in your day-to-day life?
What fears do they have about the future?
- Do you have any long term concerns or worries about the future? if so, please list the top three
Who are their favourite brands?
- Who are your favourite brands?
- Why did you choose these brands (i.e. price, size, availability, brand recognition)?
Where do they go for information?
- What sources of information do you value the most (i.e. websites, social media, opinions of friends, newspapers, books etc.)?
- Can you explain the process you take when you are looking for something online?
- How do you interact with suppliers/vendors (i.e. complete online forms, email, phone, face-to-face)?
- Do you prefer to use the internet to perform research before you interact with suppliers/vendors?
What social media platforms do they use?
- What social media platforms do you use?
- Do you use these daily, weekly or not often?
- Do you participate in these platforms (i.e. post comments/photos) or do you simply observe?
What websites do they visit regularly?
- Please list the top 5 websites that you regularly visit?
What TV, Print or Online Publications do they regularly read/watch?
- Please list any television programmes that you regularly watch.
- Please list the top 5 online publications or print media that you regularly read.
Find out the real them
To help gain a deeper understanding of your customers, every question above should be accompanied with "Why?" - with obvious exceptions such as their age etc.
Your goal is to uncover the "real" reason why they do things, why they make certain choices and to discover their "trigger" points. That way you can position your marketing to resonate with similar customers who think just like them.
Free to Download, Available in Editable PDF format
Buyer Persona Templates
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