Enjoy Brand Building Success: The Key Components of Creating Buyer Personas

  •    Anne is a marketing consultant who specializes in content strategy. Before becoming her own boss, she led the marketing team for a Fortune 500 brand.

Over the course of my marketing career, one workshop has stood out above the rest. It centered around building our brand's buyer personas with the help of our sales leaders.

Until this point, our messaging was overly general. It was too self-focused and tried to appeal to every type of buyer. After this game-changing workshop, our newly-created buyer personas guided our strategy in a way that made every single marketing campaign far more successful from that point forward. We not only generated more leads, but also nurtured and qualified them faster, and our sales reps reported warmer meetings and better conversations while following up with these qualified leads.

In short, creating buyer personas allowed us to understand and focus on our customers' needs rather than on selling our business. And, guess what — we did better.

Brand Building: Why Create Buyer Personas?

Building personas helps you segment and understand each type of buyer for your business. Depending on the nature of your company's services or products you might have just a few or up to 10-15 personas. Start small — create personas that reflect your ideal customers. Doing so not only presents a great opportunity to understand your audience, it also:

  • Offers guidance on product development
  • Helps you write helpful marketing content and better tailor your messaging to make it more relatable
  • Reveals how to reach customers where they are so you can better target your promotions and advertising campaigns to each segment

Plus, using buyer personas to segment your database can lead to some exciting and helpful A/B testing, which will help you best understand how to convert your leads into buyers. Try out two different versions (A and B) of an email subject line, for instance, or two versions of a landing page, to see which performs better. Then use that version for that persona moving forward. You get started with A/B testing using tools like Google Optimize.

Our emails, for instance, performed better when we used informal subject lines (so informal, they didn't even follow capitalization rules) when sending to our marketing leader segment, while leads in our HR leaders segment responded better to formally formatted subject lines. Our email marketing program improved as a whole when we understood each segment's preferences and tailored our emails accordingly.

Creating Buyer Personas: Who to Involve

When it comes to developing buyer personas, don't make assumptions. Be a scholar and do your homework. Each persona should include market research based on your current and prospective customers (via interviews, case studies and surveys).

For each persona, aim to interview at least three customers. When asking for their time, be clear that it's not a sales call and that you will use their feedback to improve your business. If needed, offer incentives. Finally, prepare to ask questions that will help you flesh out the key components in the next section.

Buyer Personas: 9 Key Components

Build out each persona as a hypothetical identity. This way you will better understand how to communicate with (and help) each type of customer segment. Expand on each section below:

  1. Description – Include the customer's typical role at home or in their company, the size of their company or household and what their day-to-day might look like.
  2. Demographics – Include education level, income and whether they tend more toward a certain gender.
  3. Identifiers – Understand what this type of customer takes pride in and which communication and delivery methods they prefer.
  4. Pain points / Challenges – Include big-picture challenges they face in their role as well as regular pain points.
  5. Goals / Priorities – Consider how their success is measured and what's most important to them.
  6. Tools – If applicable, ask about the tools and software they need to get their work done as well as how they use them.
  7. Buying objections – Listen for what would make them hesitate to use your service or buy your products.
  8. Communication channels – Understand which social media channels they pay attention to, how they learn and where they network.
  9. Key messages – Answer how your company can make their life better or easier. Uncover what will resonate with them by listening for keywords they seem to focus on, so you can use them in your messaging.

Next Steps: How to Use Your Buyer Personas

Once you've fleshed out the buyer personas, circulate them among your key players for feedback. After you finalize them, it's time to put them to use! Start with these three next steps:

  1. Tailor your lead generation forms to segment new leads into these personas.
  2. Create messaging and content for each persona based on their interests, goals and pain points.
  3. Start A/B testing within each persona.

Finally, don't fall into the trap of thinking that creating buyer personas is a one-time exercise. Revisit and revise them as needed. You may even decide to add new ones as you discover customer types or introduce other types of products and services.