Beginner’s Guide to Buyer Personas

how to make buyer personas

Buyer Personas are semi-fictional representation of your ideal client. 

They make it easier to develop tailored messaging, map out content, allocate resources, and achieve cross-functional alignment.

Learning about your ideal persona, their challenges, goals, demographics traits and so on, helps you create a strategy aimed at attracting the most valuable visitors, leads, and customers to your business.

Buyer Personas Research

As a marketer, salesperson or business owner, chances are you have a pretty clear idea of what makes a person qualified to purchase your products. Whether its geographical location, purchasing power, industry, or something similar, there are dozens of markers we use to vet prospects and qualify leads. 

In persona development, we look at all of these indicators in the context of what makes a client or customer the ideal person for our solution. What challenges were they facing that we solve for? How did they find and choose our solution over our competitors? What do we provide that keeps them loyal to our company?

The easiest and most reliable way to answer these questions and more, is through thoughtful research of your current client base and the market you serve. 

Identify your clients

When you think of your ideal client, there are probably a few people or companies that immediately come to mind. The clients that love your product/service and recommend it to their friends and colleagues. The ones who represent game-changing deals for your company or who helped you learn and grow as a company.

Work with your sales team to build a list of those clients and identify who at the company or organization would be the best to talk to. Sample a wide range of  clients representing all the different job roles and functions, deal sizes, challenges and needs of those that you typically work with. 

Prepare for buyer personas interviews

Once you’ve made a list of your ideal clients, take a look at who you chose and why. Are there any similarities between the people or companies you selected? Start to bucket your list by perceived likenesses; geographical, demographical, challenges you solved for, etc. This pre-research is a natural starting point for forming your personas.

With all of this mind, create a list of questions you would like to ask your clients. Be sure to include not just questions about their experience with your company, but what their experience was like before choosing you and what the journey was like to finding your solution. 

Ask about their research, for example; what tools they used, what competitors they looked at, and how long they researched for. Did they find you through your website? How easy was it for them to find the info they were looking for on your site? Maybe they were referred by a friend. What did that friend say that made you interested? Based on what you already know about your clients. develop a hypothesis, or anticipated answers to these questions, and test that through real conversations with clients. 

Interview your clients

TIP: Plan for several weeks of buyer personas interviews. Coordinating schedules and booking calls can take a long time, even if it’s just for a 30 minute phone call!

Now is the fun part! Talking to your loyal and trusted clients. To schedule your interviews, reach out a few days in advance to tell your client what you are doing and ask if they would like to participate. It is important to be transparent and offer to answer any questions they have about the research to ensure that they are comfortable with the exercise and continue to have a good experience with your company.

Set the expectation for a 20-30 minute interview. You can conduct interviews over the phone, by video chat, or in person, but whatever you decided be sure that it is clear to your interviewee when and how they should join the interview. 

It is highly recommended that you record your interviews so that you can focus more on the conversation and less on note-taking. If you do record, always ask permission first. 

Once you’ve completed your interviews, be sure to send follow up emails to your interviewees thanking them again for their time and letting them know how their information will be used. If during the course of your interview, they said anything surprising or enlightening, reference that specifically or ask for more clarification if necessary. 

Follow-up emails are also a great time to ask for a testimonial or review for your business. Maybe they gave a really great testimonial that you capture on the recording? Include it in the email and ask their permission to use it on your website or in other marketing materials. 

Additional research

You’ve spoken with your ideal clients and gotten a ton of really great feedback to start you persona development. So it’s off the races then right? Hold your horses! While your interviews are a large piece of the puzzle, you should also consider doing some independent research to make sure you are fully capturing the audience. Do you have new products or services that are rolling out? Are you expanding to a new territory? Was there a noticeable gap somewhere in your research? 

To answer these questions and ensure a holistic approach, conduct some further research by looking at the data you already have. If you are using a CRM, you can create lists of clients based on shared characteristics such as deal size, became a customer date, company size/industry etc. If you aren’t using a CRM, you should be! But you can check other company records or databases to gather this information, and be sure to talk to your sales team! They are the expert on the company’s clients and prospects and will have great insight into who your ideal clients are and what you should know about them

Analyze the results

With all of this great research at hand, it’s time to dig in and see what commonalities arise to develop a bigger picture of who your clients are. Start with identifying these things:

Who are your clients?

What are their needs?

What do they say about their challenges?

What are the common objections?

Develop your buyer personas

You’ve done the research, analyzed the results, and come up with some great semi-fictional representations of your ideal clients. Now you need to bring them to life! It may sound funny, but naming your personas and assigning them an avatar helps you think of your personas as real people and makes it easier to build messaging and strategies around your personas.

It is helpful to give your buyer personas names you’ll remember, like Marketing Molly, Owner Ollie, or Sales Steve. Use the demographical data you collected to assign an image to the persona. Create cards, slides, or docs for each persona that is easily accessible to teammates and colleagues throughout your organization. 

Ready to get started?

Download our free Beginner’s Guide to Buyer Personas kit that includes all of this info and more, plus free templates to help you in your research and developments. Now get out there and start marketing!

Beginner’s Guide to Buyer Personas

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