How to Create Buyer Personas

Learning how to create buyer personas is one of the most powerful tools your company can use to succeed, right behind having a strong team. Personas help you understand your customers, their needs, wants and problems, often before they know them themselves.

Having detailed personas makes it easier for you to develop content, messages and services that are tailored specifically to your buyers. According to HubSpot, personas make websites 2-5 times more effective and easier to use by targeted users. Personalized emails improve click-through rates by 14%, and conversion rates by 10%. If those stats aren’t enough to convince you, then think about it this way: If you’re targeting an audience of 100 people, but only 10 of them actually need your solution, then 90% of them are not actually your ideal buyers. This is a huge waste of your time and resources.

So how do you create effective buyer personas? It’s not quite as simple as finding a stock photo, naming it, and posting it in your break room. You need to be willing to really get inside the buyer’s head, and think about the steps they will take to get to you – the solution.

Thankfully, we’ve made it a little easier for you by creating a Buyer Persona Guide. Print it out, and follow along below.

Do Your Research

The strongest buyer personas are based on market research and insights you gather from your customer base through surveys, interviews, etc. Depending on your company, you might decide you need anywhere between 3-10 personas; but, if you’re just starting out, then 3 is a great number to start with.

The best place to begin when creating personas is through information that you already have. Your company’s contact database can show you trends about how your users consume your content. Customize your website forms to capture relevant user information such as company size and their role.

Perform Interviews

There is no one better suited to review than your product or service than your existing customers. Whether they have had a good or bad experience interacting with your company, your customers can help you understand your personas. For example, your customer may have had a negative experience with your product because they don’t understand how to use the features. Understanding how they want to interact with it can help you understand how to target those users. Perhaps a simple fix would be to include a better diagram, or to market your product differently.

Ultimately, interviewing your customers allows them to be heard and to possibly influence your business. This is one of the most important factors in building customer loyalty.

create buyer personas

Collect Background Information

To start building your personas, you first need to understand some basic background information about these users. Your goal is to answer questions about who these people are, how they live their day, and to be as detailed as possible. So for example, let’s say you sell daily planners. You know that your customers tend to be college students and business professionals, so you decide to create two personas around them.

For the college student, we can call him Student Steve, we can identify that he is 18-23 years old, lives with roommates in a college town, most likely has an annual income of less than $2o,000, always has his headphones on and is in a rush to get to class, where he studies art.

For the business professional however, we can call her CEO Cindy, she is 25-45 years old, married, lives in the city, has a bachelor’s degree, makes a household income of $90,000, is constantly in meetings and writing emails, loves to cook in her free time and cares about locally-sourced products.

Remember, this doesn’t mean that your buyer is limited to an 18-year-old with roommates, or a married, 26-year-old. Providing background information is simply a way for you to see the differences between your customers, their challenges, and to ultimately learn how to market to them more effectively.

Configure Goals and Challenges

Now that you know how your personas live, you need to understand what their goals and challenges are. Student Steve wants to stay inspired, but needs help keeping track of assignment due dates and tests. CEO Cindy is constantly trying to generate leads for her company and keep her employees happy, but struggles to keep track of her daily meetings and doesn’t want to depend on her assistant to keep her organized.

Once you identify your personas’ goals and challenges, you can use that information to figure out what you can do to help them. A solution to Student Steve’s problem would be to target him with a student version of your planner, which might contain song lyrics or inspirational quotes on every page, and contain a daily section specifically dedicated to homework. In comparison, CEO Cindy might be drawn to your planner that has a cover designed by a local artist, and has specific sections to record contact information, meeting times and notes.

buyer persona guide

Crafting Your Message

Elevator pitches are irrelevant. Any truly successful company with satisfied customers knows that you need to talk to your customers in their voice, and never with a copy-and-pasted speech. Now that you know your individual personas and how they live, it should be easy to talk to them like a friend.

Think about what you would say to Student Steve and CEO Cindy if they were standing in front of you, debating why they should buy your product over another brand’s. The answer shouldn’t be the same to both.

Create a Negative Persona

Although it might not seem very effective at first, creating a negative persona helps you keep a clear definition of who you don’t want as a customer, and saves you from wasting time marketing to the wrong people. This might be someone who relies on their assistant for everything so they have no need for a planner, or maybe it’s a student who prefers to keep everything in their online calendar.

Keep a Clear Rank

Once your personas are complete, rank them so that you have a clear visual understanding of who you want to target the most. Analyze which of your personas is purchasing from your company the most, and and where you can improve. You can also use this to create an “aspirational” persona. This is generally someone who might not be your customer right now, but is someone you would like to be a primary customer in the future. Analyze them and use the information you learned about your other personas to better understand how to target them in the future.

Finally, find a photo to attach to each persona, and hang them in a place that you can easily refer to on a daily basis. Now that you’re able to identify with your buyers, and understand how to solve their problems, your company will be more successful in no time.

Thanks for reading! Check back next Thursday for more web design and marketing tips.

catch22 persona


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Posted by Ariel Valley

Web designer, writer, social media lover and inbound marketer at Catch22 Marketing. Also known as a professional coffee taster, shoe enthusiast and film buff. Connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter @ariel_valley.

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