4 Steps to Better Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are essential elements in any inbound marketing strategy. The definition provided by HubSpot—semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on market research and real data about your existing customers—offers a great starting point for the development of these strategic elements for your organization. By visualizing your audience and their unique goals, challenges and processes, you can easily tailor your content and create purposeful messaging. Using real data to form these personas helps align your messaging with your customers’ and prospects’ specific needs and wants.
Understanding the value of buyer personas is not the same as understanding how to create and use them in your marketing execution. Strive to keep four things in mind as you begin the process of developing strategic buyer personas with your clients.

1. Collect Useful Data
Strong buyer personas are based on facts, so you’ll need to start with some data collection. The first step is finding people to talk to—current customers, prospects and former customers are a good place to start. Conduct surveys and interviews with these subjects, or merely have conversations to determine the traits they have in common. Observe the questions they ask you, the issues that seem to concern them, how eager they are to get things done and their other focus areas. These observations can help you determine how you’ll segment your buyers.

2. Include the Right Information
Each buyer persona should include work background information such as job title, skills, knowledge and tools used at work. Start by considering what their typical days look like. Dig deeper to discover your subjects’ biggest challenges or perceived barriers, along with their goals, common objectives and priorities. Finally, personal demographics like age, gender, education background and income level help round out the snapshot.

3. Develop a Format
You can format your buyer personas any number of ways, but it’s important to keep your formatting consistent for all personas. That way you won’t be comparing apples to oranges when you decide which persona to target. Buyer personas should be written in narrative form, not bullet points and should include specific details. Your goal is to tell a story that paints a picture of who these people are, what makes them tick and what motivates them. Give your personas a name and title and try to include a representative stock photo with each persona. You’d be surprised how much it helps to put a face to a “name.”

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  • buyerpersona

    Thanks for the thoughtful post on my favorite topic, Colin. I am so happy that you emphasize the importance of gathering real data from buyers.

    I would just add that that the best people to interview are buyers who have recently evaluated the solutions you want to market to them. That’s because the most important insights about the persona describe how, when and why they make a buying decision. Buyers who have just been through that assessment can give you exceptional clarity about what factored into their decision to choose you, a competitor or the status quo.

    This type of interview also eliminates the bias that comes from surveys where the answers are determined by your opinions about the relevant answers.

    During the interviews, marketers need to probe on the buyer’s answers to any questions, as the first answer is likely to be high level, confirming only the information that you already know.

    I hope you’ll let me know if you have any questions. Always happy to help!