How well do you know your customer? Not the person who last bought your product, but your target customer. The current thinking is that you should know your target customer personally. How? By creating a persona for them, with a name, and full demographic details, together with their interests, and what they want from you.

What are buyer personas and how do you build them?

Buyer personas are descriptions of your ideal customer, as individuals. They have names, and you use real data to build and shape them, until they feel like a real person to you and your team. Three to five is usually enough to cover most of your target market in sufficient detail.

The information to include can often be quite detailed. You need to include enough that you can really start to understand them. As a starting point, you need to know who they are, what they value and how to communicate with them. These may include:

  • Your persona needs a name, if he or she is to feel like a real person.
  • Job title, size of company, and some details about what he or she does. You need to know their level of seniority, decision-making power and so on.
  • Demographics, including age, gender, salary or household income, family, level of education and location (urban, suburban or rural is enough).
  • Their goals and challenges: what do they want to achieve, what is stopping them, and how you and your company can help.
  • Their values and fears.
  • Your marketing message and elevator pitch to them: how can you get your message across shortly and sweetly?

There may also be more information that your company needs, such as level of computer literacy, or what blogs someone reads, so this is a minimum list.

You may be wondering where you find all this information. The key is to use real data and real insights, and not just to make it up. Site analytics can provide useful information about where your customers come from, how they found you, and how long they stay on your site. Google Analytics also contains useful data, for example about demographics.

You should also draw on anyone in your company who has contact with customers, as they will have valuable insights to contribute. Market research information that has been commissioned will be useful here. You can also find your customers via social media, and have a look at what questions they are asking, and what content they are seeking, as this provides good data. The more real data that you can use, the better your ‘sketch’ will become, potentially moving from the equivalent of a stick figure to a decent portrait.

What are the key benefits to using buyer personas?

Perhaps the most important benefit is that buyer personas enable you, and all your team, to put yourselves into your customers’ shoes. When you’re shopping for a friend or relative, you picture them in your mind. With a persona, you can do the same thing with a customer. They become a friend, and you can tailor your content to them and their needs and wants.

With a better understanding of your customer from the analytics you have used to build up the persona, you’ll have improved your knowledge of where they spend time. You can target your content to the right places, instead of using a scattergun approach.

Personas also give you a common language about target customers across a business. If you have identified five personas, then you can discuss potential leads in terms of those personas, and others will understand what is likely to motivate them. This also helps to build better leads, and also to ensure that sales teams spend their time on the leads that are most likely to lead to sales. Finally, buyer personas also improve new product development, by enabling you to tailor new products to your customers’ wants and needs, which will help to keep them happy and save you having to spend so much time and energy on finding new customers.

Across the board, using buyer personas can help you to find new customers and also keep your existing customers happy. Getting to know your customers means that you can tailor content and products to them. It’s a massive win-win on so many levels.


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