Marketing is a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do.
Sometimes, it feels like throwing rubber darts at a wall made of Jell-O and crossing your fingers that something will stick. Other times, it’s as easy as hitting the broad-side of a barn. Mixed metaphors aside, positioning yourself in front of the right people at the right time is no easy task. It requires research, empathy, and an open mind ready to listen to what everyone (and we do mean everyone) has to say about your business.
In comes the buyer persona. Like a shining beacon of heavenly light, these fictional profiles of your ideal and not-so-ideal customers creates a path that you can walk to increase your marketing success. It paints an actionable picture of who you’re selling to, why they want to buy it, and what it’s going to take to get them to them crack open those wallets.
Intel and Observation: Data Gathering for Buyer Personas
We promise, the free tools are coming… But if you don’t have boards, nails, or a project in mind, someone handing you a hammer just means you’re going to smack a hole in the wall.
Before you craft your buyer personas, you have to gather information.
Let’s say that you sell custom skateboards. You probably have an idea of who is going to buy your product (boys under 18) and where you can find them (at a skatepark). While that information is… technically helpful… it’s also very obvious. The true value of buyer personas is peeling away those surface-level assumptions to get to the goodies within your typical customer.
Your customers are piñatas and your buyer personas are the stick. Let’s bust this bad boy wide open.
Interviews are a great way to gather intel. Customers like talking about their experiences with a product because they like being heard and understood. They also like knowing that companies are considering their opinions when considering changes to a given good or service that they care about.
Send out a call for survey data or offer to buy lunch for a few people who are willing to share about what your product adds (or takes away from) their ability to accomplish whatever they’re trying to accomplish by buying something from you. Ask them questions about themselves, their lives, their backgrounds, and what spurred them to make a purchase from you.
Start with some of these questions, and add more as appropriate for your given industry. There are literally hundreds of things that you could ask, but at the very least, you need to know:
- Basic demographics: Age, marriage status, income levels (if appropriate), their occupation
- Educational background
- Hobbies and activities that they enjoy
- How they typically consume social media: phones or computers, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Tik Tok, etc.
- What kinds of challenges or successes they face, specifically in regard to their shopping habits. For example, if someone struggles with staying fit, they seek out a smart watch to stay accountable.
- What path led them to buy your product.
- What the experience of deciding to buy your product over another product was like.
- Who they talked to about this particular purchase.
- How they like to receive marketing materials.
- Three words that would describe their personality.
If you’re going to take people out and talk to them in person, be sure to send out the questions ahead of time, so they don’t feel blindsided. Reflecting on your habits and personality can sometimes be a challenge, so giving them “think time” can make the discussion richer and more worthwhile.
Creating Your Buyer Personas
You have your research, you have your basic definition of a buyer persona, and you have the drive to make your marketing totally rad.
Let’s get down to business.
HubSpot’s Make My Persona Tool
Easily the most intuitive of the three buyer persona tools, Make My Persona lets you plug in the information that you gathered during your interviews and surveys, then pieces it all together into a lovely template.
Along the way, HubSpot does a great job of explaining why you need to know the information and how it’s going to help you market more successfully.
The one downside is that it’s really oriented for business-to-business sellers, not business-to-customer sellers. That doesn’t mean that it’s not worth looking into. There’s plenty of space for your to write in your own parameters, and if nothing else, it can help you sculpt out a template that’s more appropriate for your business.
If you’re a visual learner, you can scroll through the carousel to see what the process for making Jim Dandy the Skateboard King’s persona looks like.
Digital Marketer’s Customer Avatar Worksheet
If you prefer something a little more flexible, Digital Marketer’s Customer Avatar Worksheet is perfect for scribbling out rough draft ideas during team meetings or using as a final product to hang on the walls to remind your team who they’re marketing to.
They’re version of the buyer persona focuses on 5 main components:
- Goals and Values
- Sources of Information
- Demographic Information
- Challenges and Pain Points
- Objections and Roles
This template is appropriate for both B2C and B2B personas, and it can easily be adapted for any number of different demographics that you’re focused on. Digital Marketer even offers a tutorial on how to fill it out, and what the intention is for each section.
You can snag the free PDF in your email, but be aware that you’re also signing up for marketing emails.
FileStage’s Effective Buyer Persona Template
The FileStage template is one of our favorites because the actual template is provided as an editable PowerPoint presentation.
It offers largely the same sections of information as the Digital Marketer version, but the added bonus of having a ready-made buyer persona that can easily be shared with onboarding employees is massively appealing.
Upload the who slideshow into your Google Drive or Share Drive, and your team will always have easy access to the driving force of their marketing efforts. Reviewing and editing your personas as the market shifts will help hold you accountable to stayin on course for your customers, so anything that makes that process easier is a win.