How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for Your Business
Do you know who your business’s buyer personas are? And if so, how much do you know about them?
Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on data and research. They help you focus your time on qualified prospects, guide product development to suit the needs of your target customers, and align all work across your organization (from marketing to sales to service).
As a result, you’ll be able to attract high-value visitors, leads, and customers to your business, who you’ll be more likely to retain over time.
More specifically, having a deep understanding of your buyer persona(s) is critical to driving content creation, product development, sales follow-up, and really anything that relates to customer acquisition and retention.
“Okay, so personas are really important to my business. But, how do I actually make one?”
Before we dive into the buyer persona-creation process, let’s pause to understand the impact of well-developed buyer personas on your business (most specifically, your marketing efforts).
Why exactly are buyer personas so important to your business?
Buyer personas help you understand your customers (and prospective customers) better. This makes it easier for you to tailor your content, messaging, product development, and services to meet the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of the members of your target audience.
For example, you may know your target buyers are caregivers, but do you know their specific needs and interests? What is the typical background of your ideal buyer? To fully understand what makes your best customers tick, it’s critical to develop detailed personas for your business.
The strongest buyer personas are based on market research and insights you gather from your actual customer base (through surveys, interviews, etc.).
Depending on your business, you could have as few as one or two personas or as many as 10 or 20. But if you’re new to personas, start small. You can always develop more personas later if needed.
What about “negative” buyer personas?
While a buyer persona is a representation of your ideal customer, a negative — or “exclusionary” — persona is a representation of who you don’t want as a customer.
For example, this could include professionals who are too advanced for your product or service, students who are only engaging with your content for research/ knowledge, or potential customers who are just too expensive to acquire. The potential customers may be too expensive because of a low average sale price, their propensity to churn, or their unlikeliness to purchase again from your company.
How can buyer personas be used in marketing?
At the most basic level, developing personas allows you to create content and messaging that appeals to your target audience. It also enables you to target or personalize your marketing for different segments of your audience.
For example, instead of sending the same lead nurturing emails to everyone in your database, you can segment by buyer persona and tailor your messaging to what you know about those different personas.
Furthermore, when combined with lifecycle stage (i.e. how far along someone is in your sales cycle), buyer personas also allow you to map out and create highly targeted content. (You can learn more about how to do that by downloading our Content Mapping Template.)
And if you take the time to also create negative personas, you’ll have the added advantage of being able to segment out the “bad apples” from the rest of your contacts. This can help you achieve a lower cost-per-lead and cost-per-customer — and, therefore, see higher sales productivity.
Different Types of Buyer Personas
While beginning work on your personas, you may ask yourself, “What are the different types of buyer personas?” From there, it’d be simple to adjust one for your business — right?
Well, that’s not exactly how it works. There isn’t a set list of universally-recognized buyer personas to choose from, nor is there a standard for the number of personas you need. This is because each business (no matter how many competitors they have) is unique. For that reason, their buyer personas should be unique to them, too.
That’s why identifying and creating your different buyer personas can, at times, be slightly challenging. This is why we recommend using HubSpot’s Make My Persona generator (as well as HubSpot’s persona templates) to simplify the process of creating different personas.
Just like buyer personas are unique to each company, so is their name for them. You may see buyer personas referred to as “customer personas”, “marketing personas”, “audience personas”, or “target persona”. Each of these carry the same meaning but will look unique within your company.
In general, companies may have the same, or similar, categories for their buyer personas (e.g. a marketer, an HR rep, an IT manager, etc.). But the different personas your business has and the number of them your business requires will be tailored to who your target audience includes and what you offer your customers.
What goes into persona development?
Now that we’ve discussed the importance of buyer personas and the different types, let’s explore the nuances of developing your buyer personas.
Before you begin creating your buyer personas, you need to identify the people on your team who will have a role in its development. Who should create your buyer persona? Frankly, any customer-facing team member should be a part of the process. While that sounds like you’ll have too many cooks in the kitchen, it’s important you select one representative from each department. Each department has unique experiences with the customers that will serve as valuable information in identifying your target audience.
When building your team, start with representatives from sales and marketing. Sales employees directly communicate with customers. Your marketing staff can conclude and create data based on information about your customers. Additionally, your team should include an executive leader who ensures that the brand mission and values are upheld through every step of development.
Persona development teams need sales, marketing, and executive members. You’ll find these individuals in almost every business, which leads to the question,“What type of business needs to create buyer personas?” Answer: all of them. Every business needs customers or clients. As long as this concept is true, buyer personas should be a staple in every business, regardless of the industry.
While developing buyer personas is crucial, it’s equally important that your business regularly reviews and updates them. Take the time to do this annually. It might feel like a tedious task. However, identifying your target audience is the first step to securing these buyers as future and repeating customers.
Now, are you ready to start creating your buyer personas?
How to Create Buyer Personas
Buyer personas can be created through research, surveys, and interviews — all with a mix of customers, prospects, and those outside your contacts database who might align with your target audience.
Here are some practical methods for gathering the information you need to develop personas:
- Look through your contacts database to uncover trends about how certain leads or customers find and consume your content.
- Use form fields that capture important persona information when creating forms to use on your website. For example, if all of your personas vary based on company size, ask each lead for information about company size on your forms.
- Consider your sales team’s feedback on the leads they’re interacting with most. What generalizations can they make about the different types of customers you serve best?
- Interview customers and prospects to discover what they like about your product or service.
Now, how can you use the above research to create your personas?
Once you’ve gone through the research process, you’ll have a lot of meaty, raw data about your potential and current customers. But what do you do with it? How do you distill all of it so it’s easy for everyone to understand all the information you’ve gathered?
The next step is to use your research to identify patterns and commonalities from the answers to your interview questions, develop at least one primary persona, and share that persona with the rest of the company.
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