How to create buyer personas?

Buyer personas can help you more effectively target different groups of customers that may have unique needs. However, good buyer personas go beyond simple demographics, like industry and position within a company. Using an online marketing system to identify different segments can help your sales team function more efficiently and appropriately cater their messages.

It’s important to note that personas should serve as a guideline of real customers – they aren’t people, Pam Dyer wrote for her website Pamorama, a blog focused on how businesses can develop an online presence. However, your buyer personas should feel like they could be real prospects with pain points and individual needs. One of the best ways to start utilizing buyer personas is to conduct extensive interviews with previous clients, prospects who ended up buying from a competitor and individuals who decided not to purchase at all.

It can be beneficial to interview leads who aren’t already customers because previous clients already have an established opinion about your company, and this process can help your sales employees compensate for any gaps in the revenue funnel, Erin Everhart wrote for Search Engine Watch. When interviewing these people to determine shared characteristics, you want to get a sense of demographical information and an idea about their opinions, activities, interests, research process and how they use the product you sell.

Setting up the interview

When creating buyer personas, the more information you have, the better your Internet marketing methods will perform. Because of this, it can be helpful to ask open-ended questions when conducting interviews, Everhart wrote. Examples of relevant questions include the following:

  • How did you know you needed this product?
  • How long did you shop for this product before buying?
  • What was your process for researching and buying this product? Be as specific as possible.
  • What were the most important features of this offering?
  • What were the deciding factors?

You can also ask buyers questions about their personal backgrounds, such as education, career path and preferred style of communication. Some people want to communicate through email rather than over the phone, and having this information can help your sales employees follow up with the right channel. Then there should be questions about their individual roles, like how a standard day at work is structured. It’s also important to ask about challenges, goals and how they search for information – whether it’s online or through other sources. All of this data can help you refine your marketing methods and sales approach. When interviewing individuals, asking “why” often can significantly improve how much you know, according to Dyer.

Creating buyer persona profiles

The best buyer personas help put your sales representatives in your customers’ mindset. Again, having as much information as possible never hurts in the sales cycle. Dyer suggested good buyer personas typically contain the following elements:

  • Basic demographics, such as industry, job title and interests
  • Pain points
  • Values
  • Research methods and habits
  • Top priorities
  • Opinions, activities and buying process

Map persona information with your marketing funnel

Once you have all this data, it can be difficult to make sense of it, Everhart said. After interviewing many previous customers, leads and people who didn’t buy, you should have a preliminary idea of buyer personas. The typical marketing funnel contains stages for awareness, consideration and the final decision. You can apply the information gathered from answers to interview questions to these different steps for a more accurate persona.

For example, when considering the awareness phase, look at the answers to questions about identifying the need for a new product. How did customers arrive at this realization? What did they do when they recognized that they wanted to fix a significant pain point? When it comes to consideration, analyze what attributes buyers most wanted in a new product or service. For the decision stage, consider the factors that most influenced buyers’ selection. How did they purchase? What did they do after buying the product?

Mapping this data to your existing revenue funnel can provide a better indication of how customers are behaving throughout the entire sales cycle. Having a better understanding of each phase of the buying cycle enables your sales team to make better connections with prospects.

Connect with leads during each stage

Gaining access to all this information about prospect activities and interests can significantly improve your lead generation techniques and your ability to target individuals with the most relevant sales messages. A marketing automation platform can help you build relationships with leads throughout the buying cycle. Better visibility can provide more accurate insight into buyer behaviors and preferences. Knowing what is most important to your buyers allows you to explain why someone should choose your company over a competitor, Everhart wrote. Buyer personas can help you avoid lost sales.