Wouldn’t it be great to have the inside track into what buyers are thinking? Consider how much more efficient your campaigns would be if you knew the goals, wishes and behaviors of your target audience. Through the magic of market insight, this is possible. What you need to do is to build what is called a buyer persona.

On a most basic level, a buyer persona is a fictional representation of your customers. It projects how your consumer thinks, behaves and makes decisions — including the decisions made in regards to your company, your competitors and the general business environment.

On a technical level, building a buyer persona can help you refine your targets and save you and your campaign money down the line. It also helps you refine your message to make it more effective to attract your desired customers.

You can also deliver better messaging since you know who it is you are targeting.

How to create a buyer persona

buyer persona basic demographics

A useful buyer persona is based on market research and insights from your customer base (interviews and questionnaires applied to customers). Most business have more than one buyer persona, which is totally fine. You probably have different types of customers and identifying each of them is paramount to create better marketing campaigns. By learning how they behave, you will be able to personalize your campaigns to the different personas you have.

The image above shows a buyer persona example created by Hubspot. It is a good example of the different layers that form a good buyer persona. First, you have both demographic and key data about this ideal customer. In the image below, you can see how one can go deeper into the character to understand their behaviors, goals and needs.
buyer persona goals and challenges

To create a good buyer persona you need to collect specific types of information. Let’s get into it.

  1. Demographics Before getting in too deep, you need to know some basic facts about the consumer you’re hoping to court. This is the demographic information. How old are they? Where do they live? What level of education have they achieved? What about their income level
  2. Behavioral Patterns Now we’re starting to dig a little deeper. Is the buyer a morning person or a night owl? Do they access their social media channels through their phones or from a desktop? From home or office? Understanding how people behave and operate in their day-to-day lives is incredibly important if you want to really know them. Demographics are good to start, but you need to aggregate other data to make it relevant. Understanding the behavioral patterns of the buyer means understanding how your brand can fit into their lives.
  3. Motivations What drives the buyer to behave the way they do? Think of a buyer persona like an onion of sorts. We’re peeling back the layers to see what comprises each one. How do they purchase products and services? Do they perform research before choosing a vendor? Do they buy on impulse? Are they connected to a cause and prefer companies that are like minded? Knowing what motivates a buyer is powerful knowledge for a marketer to tap into when trying to understand them.
  4. Goals Finally, and perhaps most importantly, what are the goals of the buyer? Ideally, you need to know the innermost longings and the more short-term desires. What would they like for lunch today? When they buy a product in your segment what are they trying to accomplish with the purchase? The question here is, how can you help them achieve their goals? That’s when you become relevant to the buyer.

How to create a buyer persona

With so much information to collect, you will need to follow a series of procedures to get all the information you need to develop your personas. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you succeed.

  • Reach out to all types of customers. You want to be able to solicit opinions from a variety of sources to understand what people love about your brand and what they don’t love so much. This means you have to reach out to both the "good" and "the bad" customer. Customers that are fans of your brands and other that make purchases more casually.
  • Meet your customers where they are. Promoting in-depth interviews are an essential step to creating high-quality business personas. While using an online questionnaire can help you get a glimpse of your customer's expectations and feelings, in-depth interviews are essential to give you a better understanding of their behaviors and goals. People are not very good at explaining why they do what they do. It is easier to learn about someone's behavior by watching their routine and following them while they are performing the activity you are interested in (e.g. buying a product online.)
  • When formulating questions, categorize. You want to have a variety of questions to ask both surface level questions like, “Where do you live?” and more in-depth like, “What are your biggest challenges?”, "How do you choose a vendor to buy a product?", "Walk me through a day in your life." For these, don’t just throw questions randomly, but categorize them so you can control the rhythm and flow of the interview. You should make people trust you before asking them more difficult questions.
  • To turn data into insights, compare results. You want to look for commonalities in the answers across your interviews to be able to arrive at some broader characteristics that would constitute a buyer persona. You can also do this using persona templates available online.

Tips to creating a business persona

  1. When you’re interviewing customers, ask “why?” The goal of these interviews is to gain some insight on customers in order to build a persona of what your typical buyer looks like. To get the kind of information you need, you’re going to have to ask questions that will give you in-depth answers.
  2. If you’re struggling to get people to participate in interviews, try offering incentives and make it easy to say yes. Do as much work for the interviewee as possible so that the interview requires the least amount of effort on their part.
  3. Observe what your customer say without words. When interviewing customers, pay special attention to the way they behave, their gestures and how a day in their life is. Many times people cannot explain with words what they do, but an attentive interviewer can find precious insights by observing how people behave

Go out and build buyers personas

Creating business personas is an excellent investment as it will give you a clear understanding of your target customers and generate better insights to your next campaign. It not only can help you on the creative, but it will also help you figure out the best social media platforms and targeting to achieve the desired results.

Ligia Aguilhar

Ligia Aguilhar

Ligia Aguilhar is a Content Specialist at Strike Social and holds an MS from Medill. She was born in Brazil and has traveled the world, from Silicon Valley to Seoul, to cover tech.