How to Create Buyer Personas: A Step-by-Step Guide
Now that you know what buyer personas are and why you need them, it’s time to go through the steps of how to create buyer personas.
This is your simple, five-step guide to creating buyer personas. Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it seems.
Step 1: Think about your target audience
A cornerstone of inbound marketing is understanding who your target audience is. You’ll want to start this process with an idea of what you want the end result to be. Ideally, you’ll have three to five buyer personas when all is said and done, so think about your target audience—go on, we’ll wait right here.
OK, how might you be able to segment that target audience into separate buyer personas?
Are you marketing to several different industries? Perhaps you could segment your personas by industry then. Different employment levels in the same industry? Maybe your personas will be Manager Mike, Floor Supervisor Sam, and Sales Clerk Sarah.
If you’re working with a particularly wide target audience, this might seem difficult, but having too many buyer personas can put you in the position where you’ve over-segmented your audience, and generally all that does is create extra, unnecessary work.
However, you can increase or pare down the number of hypothetical buyer personas you’ve created in your mind during this step as you go through the rest of the process. So don’t worry too much yet. We’ve got a ways to go.
Step 2: Start with what you know
In order to obtain information about your buyer personas, you really need to talk to people who would fall into said personas. Get some firsthand information.
However, you probably already have a lot of information on hand that will be useful, so start with what you know.
Look at your current customers and any feedback they’ve given—positive or negative. Comments about your customer service or the buying experience can be incredibly helpful when it comes to nailing down your buyer personas‘ motivations.
Check out your website, email, and social analytics and look for trends. Are you only getting Facebook Likes when you post a certain type of content? Which types of emails are opened most often, and by whom? All this information can help you fill in where your buyer personas get their information, so you know where to target them in the future.
Talk to your sales representatives about the questions or objections they usually hear from customers and potential customers. Common questions can be added to your buyer personas so you’re prepared to answer them in the future.
See what we mean? While you might not think you have a wealth of knowledge about your buyer personas, you just need to tap the right resources.
The next steps are to help you tap your most important resources—that’s right, we’re takin’ it to the people.
Step 3: Develop at least 10 questions to answer about your buyer personas
In order to get the right answers, you need to ask the right questions. So before you jump headfirst into the pool of creating buyer personas, make sure you know what information you’ll need.
Sit down with a few members of your marketing and sales teams and write out at least 10 questions you’ll want answered for each buyer persona. These questions can vary from the simple demographics information to what the persona is specifically looking for in a buying experience.
Here’s a sample list:
- What is your job role? Your title?
- What does a typical day look like?
- What skills are required to do your job?
- Who do you report to? Who reports to you?
- What are your biggest challenges?
- How do you overcome those challenges?
- How do you learn about new information for your job?
- What social networks do you participate in?
- How do you prefer to interact with vendors?
- What sort of experience are you looking for when it comes to purchasing a new product or service?
Note that we said “at least 10.” There’s no rule that says you can’t have more than 10 questions, but don’t make the list too long. That would make the next step difficult.
Step 4: Conduct surveys and interviews
Here’s where you get that firsthand information we were talking about earlier. You’ll need to talk to actual people who fit into your buyer personas in order to have truly accurate information—you don’t just want to assume that you know what they want.
So in order to get that information, consider setting up an online survey, or getting in touch with your customers to see if they’d be willing to answer a short questionnaire (both of which can be created using the questions you developed in step three). Reach out to any friends or business contacts who might fall into one of the buyer personas and ask them to fill out the survey as well.
You’ll want at least three to five interviews for each persona you’re creating, but don’t stop there if you can get more. You want to be able to anticipate your personas’ questions before they ask them. Then you’ll be ready to create awesome, question-answering, problem-solving marketing content.
Step 5: Compile data
This is the fun part. Take all that data you collected, internally and externally, and boil it down to a one-page, useable buyer persona. Think about it, you’re never going to actually use these things if they’re 10 pages a piece.
Don’t forget to give your persona a name and a face. Why? Because you want to be able to picture the person you’re writing for, even if he or she is semi-fictional. It will make creating excellent content much easier.
Because we know this last part isn’t always easy, we created buyer persona templates where you can literally just take the information you’ve gathered and fill it in to the appropriate boxes. How great is that?