The importance of creating buyer personas can’t be overemphasized. They form a mental picture of your ideal customer and are a fundamental element of any inbound marketing strategy. Carefully thought out buyer personas help you focus your marketing and sales strategy on the most appropriate target audience.
A Senior Growth Strategist Nick Frigo points out what you need to know when creating buyer personas. His thoughts are backed by Client Experience Lead Karin Krisher at New Breed, where he helps clients build buyer personas.
1. What is the Purpose of Your Buyer Persona?
Buyer personas are not something you create just for the sake of it. They should give you leverage in your marketing efforts and at least propel your strategy forward.
You should begin by defining the purpose of the buyer personas. For example, are you trying to define your marketing audience better to create a better content strategy? Are you creating the personas to help the marketing team identify the best people to prospect?
Nick and Karin say that buying personas are also the foundation on which you create segments on your website. Consider tailoring the sections to align with the personas, while providing the sales team with insights drawn from understanding the personas.
As you create the personas, you also should establish the ideal customer profiles (ICPs). ICPs are a representation of the type of companies your buyer personas work at and include firmographic information. Aspects like company size, annual revenue, and industry should be captured in ICPs.
Lastly, determine if you’re basing the buyer personas on the current customer base or trying to create something different. It could be that you want to be more speculative, depending on the market you want to expand into. Remember that how you collect information from existing customers differs from how you do it for hypothetical ones.
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2. Create a Template
Don’t collect information from people blindly. Before you begin your research, you should build a template that documents everything you need to know. Create a picture of what the persona will look like for your company.
Most importantly, you want to understand the information necessary for the marketing, sales, and services teams. This is what will enable them to use the buyer personas for their intended purpose. Your template could capture:
- The role of the persona in their respective company and the level of authority they exercise
- The role the persona plays in the purchasing process. Are they involved in technical analysis? Did they find your company organically, probably driven by a need?
Note that the two roles are usually very different from each other. As such you could go more in-depth to establish their:
- Job title, which can be useful for ad targeting or prospecting.
- Day-to-day responsibilities, their goals, what they’re accountable for, and how their bosses measure them.
Nick continues to say that the day-to-day responsibilities are usually beyond the challenges you’re trying to solve. You’ll realize that companies typically write about their day-to-day from a personal point of view instead of a job perspective.
As such, characteristics like marital status, age, and interests are not crucial for B2B persona. Only include them if that information can enhance your ad targeting or segmentation.
- Pain points and challenges are the struggles your buyer is facing and gets in the way of meeting or exceeding their goals.
- Value proposition, which is the solution to your company, product, or service offers to help solve the pain points.
Avoid the mistake that most companies make when writing the value proposition. Instead of focusing on the strengths of the product or service at a high-level, refine them to align your persona’s needs.
It should explain how it will make the persona’s day-to-day better. You probably want to avoid anything that doesn’t align with the challenges outlined in the persona.
- Online resources and channels where the persona can turn to for information, including publications that you have a strong presence on.
- Triggers for change, which are the reasons that bring about a persona in need of your product.
Although it’s not necessary to capture the triggers for change, they can be useful for companies that leverage ABM. By understanding why and where demand appears, they can be used to inform the content strategy and outreach tactics.
Consult the sales team about the sections they consider useful in the personas. The factors will differ from company to company but will serve a valuable purpose for each.
3. Interviews and Research
The template is complete, and the next step is to fill it in with information. Some information can be gathered by speaking to employees at your company, while other bits will require research.
The people on the front line with customers have the real color and texture into what the personas need. They know the things in the sales process that makes the eyes of customers light up, says Nick.
You’ll be at a good position to interview your sales reps and inquire the following for a start:
- Do they talk to the decision-makers or someone else in the company first?
- What are the common objections they get?
- What kinds of prospects are easier to sell to?
- How do prospects respond to the value proposition?
- Are prospects already using an equivalent product? Why or why not?
The service and product teams can also be a good source of information. Ask them the following questions regarding the clients they serve:
- How is your product or service being used by customers?
- What aspect of the product provides the most value?
- What challenges do customers face when working with your company?
If the situation allows, interview some of your current customers, asking the same questions you asked your teams. An analysis of your CRM will help you identify trends in the buying process for elements like industries, job titles, and the involvement of your customers.
4. Build the Buyer Persona
With all the information gathered this far, it’s time to bring out the finalized persona. “The template you created should be usable for everyone within the organization’” Karin says.
The format should be the most accessible for everyone. Save it as a slide deck, shared Google Drive file, a PDF, or whatever works best in your situation.
Ensure everyone understands what the information the personas portray means. You can do this by creating a glossary that explains the different sections. Alternatively, you can generate documentation around how the personas can be leveraged.
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Buyer personas are a resource for multiple teams within your company. For you to be as accurate as possible in defining them, get feedback from multiple stakeholders to avoid bias. If possible, bring in an outside consultant to help with the process.
Consulting with an expert will help expose some of those underlying predispositions. This way, you’ll create a more well-rounded depiction of your target audience.
According to Nick, your internal teams might have slightly different ideas from your growth priorities. Their approach to marketing might be different, and their concept of the buyer persona may also differ. This may derail your marketing efforts.
Align all the stakeholders at your company and let them tell your story from one perspective. This gives you an upper hand over competitors by helping create the most accurate buyer personas. Your marketing team will attract leads that the sales team can convert into the kind of customers you want.