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5 Steps to Creating an Accurate Buyer Persona

By Sara Beth Jonassen
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Teddy Browsing the internetAlso known as a "marketing persona," the buyer persona is a fictionalized profile of your target customer that guides your marketing decisions. 

It is the cornerstone of any inbound marketing campaign.

Why are buyer personas important? 

Well, the more personalized and specific your content is, the more likely you are to convert a lead into a customer! 

The buyer persona document should describe background, demographics, goals and challenges of your target customer. This document then dictates how and where appropriate content is served to the persona, and how often. The more you know about your target customer, the more successfully you can address their needs and challenges.

That makes sense! But how do I create an accurate persona? 

Here are 5 simple steps to help guide you through the process:

 

Getting to Know Your Ideal Customer

Step 1) Research your target audience

Buyer personas are created through research, surveys, and interviews of your target audience. That includes a mix of customers, prospects, and those outside of your contact database who might align with your target audience.

Research is key when establishing an accurate persona.

It may be tempting to guess at your target audience's characteristics and demographics. Having a "sense" or a "hunch" about your target customer is okay -- just remember to back this up with research!

Step 2) Compile data from several data gathering methods

Here are a few methods of gathering persona data. It's best to use more than one method when fleshing out your personas in order to improve accuracy:

  • Interview customers either in person or over the phone to discover what they like about your product or service.
  • Look through your contacts database to uncover trends about how certain leads or customers find and consume your content.

  • When creating forms to use on your website, use form fields that capture important persona information. (For example, if all of your personas vary based on age range, ask each lead for information about their age on your forms. You could also gather information on what forms of social media your leads use by asking a question about social media accounts.)

  • Take into consideration your sales team's feedback on the leads they are interacting with most. (What types of sales cycles does your sales team work with? What generalizations can they make about the different types of customers you serve best?)

 

Exploring Your New Persona

Step 3) Ask the right questions

For each persona, certain fundamental questions will need to be answered in order to create an accurate document. According to Hubspot Academy, these questions can be broken down into the following categories:

  • Role
  • Goals
  • Challenges
  • Company
  • Watering Holes
  • Personal Background
  • Shopping Preferences

This is just a good place to start -- you should experiment and come up with questions of your own, or lose the questions that aren't as relevant to your ideal customers!

Here are some sample questions for each category: 

Role:

  • What is your job role? Your job title?
  • How is your job measured?
  • What is a typical day?
  • What skills are required?
  • What knowledge and tools do you use?
  • Who do you report to? Who reports to you?

Goals:

  • What are you responsible for?
  • What does it mean to be successful in your role?

Challenges:

  • What are your biggest challenges?
  • How do you overcome these challenges?

Company:

  • What industry or industries does your company work in?
  • What is the size of your company (revenue, employees?)

Watering Holes:

  • How do you learn about new information for your job?
  • What publications or blogs do you read?
  • What associations and social networks do you belong to?

Personal Background:

  • Age
  • Family (single, married, children)
  • Education

Shopping Preferences:

  • How to you prefer to interact with vendors (email, phone, in person?)
  • Do you use the internet to research vendors or products? If yes, how do you search for information? What types of websites do you use?

 

4) Update your persona regularly

The buyer persona document is never a finished document that remains static. It is constantly evolving as you continue to learn about your customers, and as your customers change and evolve.

Therefore, the buyer persona document should be updated regularly to stay on top of trends and changes in your persona's lifestyle and patterns.

 

Don't Forget About Negative Personas!

5) Specifying the customers you don't want

Not only should you have a detailed profile of the kind of customers you wish to attract, it's also helpful to create a document for the customers you want to avoid.

Whereas a buyer persona is a representation of your ideal customer, a negative -- or “exclusionary” -- persona is a representation of who you dont want as a customer.

For example, this could include professionals who are too advanced for your product or service, students who are only engaging with your content for research/knowledge, or potential customers who are just too expensive to acquire (because of a low average sale price, their propensity to churn, or their unlikeliness to purchase again from your company).


Great -- now you're on your way to really getting to know your target customer!

 


 

Is Your Marketing Ineffective? Build Buyer Personas!

Define and attract your ideal customer by learning all about your ideal customer! Building trust from the onset, you will be able to attract the most valuable visitors, leads, and customers to your business.

Discover more by downloading our "How to Create Accurate Buyer Personas" eBook.  

 Creating Accurate Buyer Personas

Have a Question? 

If you have a question or would just like to leave me your feedback on the blog, feel free to post your comment below!