Creating buyer personas: where to start?

Before you can really start to build out your content and sales strategies, you’ll need to take a step back and define all of the potential people that will come through your online door.  In the form of buyer personas, you can really get to know each customer that comes to you in more depth than you would simply looking at target demographics.   Furthermore, these pre-defined personalities will help you to focus and target your marketing strategies.

Most businesses will have more that one persona and the more detail you can give each persona, the more targeted your content.  Be prepared to spend some time doing research here – it’ll pay off in the long run. Some groups you’ll want to survey or interview are:

  • Existing customer base (satisfied customers and those who may not be so happy)
  • Prospective customers
  • Former customers (this could be customers who have moved away to competitors or those who no longer seek your service or product).
  • Your sales teams
  • Your customer service teams
  • If you have the budget for it, it’s also a great idea to hire an agency to conduct some high-level market research as well.

Once you’ve completed your research, set names and details for each persona that you are marketing to.  The more detailed your outline, the more real your customers will seem.   Remember that you are developing many personas so you’ll likely have customers from different backgrounds and lifestyles. Here’s a list of items to include for your buyer personas:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Occupation/income: Is this person a university graduate climbing the corporate ladder?  Does she work as an order picker at a manufacturing facility just outside of Toronto?  Does he work in construction in Barrie?
  • Family and Friends: What’s the customer’s marital status? Does she have children? Does he like to socialize every weekend? Who is in his life?
  • Lifestyle: How do they spend their free time? Hobbies? Where do they vacation?
  • Motivators: What makes them buy a product?  Do they want high quality  and on the flip side, what turns them off?  Maybe they don’t like the customer service or they can’t find the size they’re looking for.
For any given company, you’ll have anywhere from 3-10 different personas depending on what your selling.  Remember that buyer personas help you to narrow down your customer demographics into specific individuals.  And if you do it right, you’ll be able to recognize “Sally Shopper” from “Procrastinating Pam” as soon as she walks through your door.

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