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Buyer Personas: How Not to Waste Money

Have you ever thought, “I wish I could read my customers’ minds and see what exactly they want”? While a buyer persona won’t turn you into an actual mind reader, they are very effective at understanding your target market to serve them better.

Why build a buyer persona?

A buyer persona is a fictitious avatar that details your customers, from their demographics to career objectives to pain points. Businesses use buyer personas to come to a deeper understanding of who purchases (or should purchase) their products.

With a little research and effort, your buyer personas will help you understand how your product helps your target market, what tactics to use to market to them, and the language to use when talking to them. This exercise ensures your product alleviates real pain points—with the goal of bringing in more sales as a result!

3 steps to building buyer personas

A word of caution before we jump into it. Building buyer personas takes time and sometimes a little bit of money to do it effectively. Like anything, if you half-ass the process you won’t get the outcome you’re looking for. But we promise it’s worth the effort!

It’s easiest and least expensive to define your perfect customers before you launch but really there is no bad time to start building buyer personas. Follow our 3 tried-and-true steps to build your own buyer personas for your business:

Step 1 - Collect customer information

While you might instinctively know a few things about your customers already, it’s always best to let the data do the talking. As a small business, it might be difficult to collect customer data at scale, but here are a few easy and free or affordable places to start your search:

  • Check your email and customer relationship management (CRM) platform: Where are you keeping customer data now? What form fields are you collecting on your website? Your email and CRM probably contain a lot of valuable information already!

  • Ask for feedback: Do you have a way to contact current or previous customers? Whether it’s via a survey on your website, an email asking for feedback, or a quick LinkedIn message, ask your customers to share a little about themselves. If you aren’t getting a lot of responses, you can always offer a free gift card in exchange for their time. You’d be surprised how many responses you’ll get for a $5 gift card to Starbucks or Amazon. Survey Monkey also offers a service where they send your survey to people in their database that match the target demographics you define so you are guaranteed to get results. You can pick the location, gender, interests (and more) of who to send your survey to.

  • Talk to your sales team: The sales team should be considered the “feet on the street” as they are usually the closest to the customer. Sales has an invaluable perspective that should inform your buyer personas. Ask your sales team to chime in on customer demographics, pain points, and preferences.

Step 2 - Build your buyer persona

Now that you have tons of data on your customers and potential customers, it’s time to put everything together into a buyer persona. Keep in mind that the best practice is to create at least 3 buyer personas for your business.

Define their basic demographics

Your buyer persona should include:

  • Gender

  • Age

  • Location

  • Career (including the industry and their title)

  • Goals in their career

  • Level of education

  • Household income

  • Home life (if they’re married, have kids, or both)

  • Associations they belong to

Determine where they are online:

Fortunately, you don’t need to be on a million social media platforms to market your business effectively. Buyer personas highlight where your potential customers already are online. This is important because it tells you where your marketing dollars are best spent. Your buyer persona should include:

  • Social media platforms. Where do they spend the most time?

  • Consumption habits. Do they prefer static images, videos, emails, podcasts? Why? How often do they consume content?

  • Communication preferences. How do they like to communicate (email, phone, in person)?

Understand their pain points:

Demographics touch on surface-level information about your customers. This information is very helpful, but demographics alone won’t help you sell more products. That’s why every buyer persona needs to include pain points.

Pain points are the important problems that your customers need to solve that your product can alleviate. Everyone has at least one problem, and the better you understand shoppers’ pain points, the better you can help solve them.

Your buyer persona should include:

  • Pain points. What’s their biggest challenge in their career or in their personal life? What keeps them up at night?

  • How you deliver. What do you offer that solves their problem(s)? Why are you the best solution? What do you offer over your competition?

  • Common objections. What would they say to talk themselves out of buying your product or service? How can you quell their fears or objections to get moving forward in the buyer's journey?

Step 3 - Fine-tune your buyer personas

After you’ve collected all of the data points, it’s time to clean it up and then personalize your buyer persona! First make sure you’ve included all of the necessary information and reviewed it with your team (and the sales folks!) for accuracy before moving forward.

Then assign a name as well as an image or visual representation! Names like “Middle-Manager Meghan,” “Decisionmaker Dave,” or “Small Business Sally” might sound silly, but they make it easy to differentiate between your different audiences in a pinch… and it’s just fun TBH.

The bottom line

Sometimes it’s hard to set aside the resources needed to create buyer personas. But when you put more thought into who your audience is, how they like to be communicated to, and what they actually want, you’ll save time and money in the long run when you market your business more effectively.

Of course, it’s always easier with a professional team behind you. Get in touch with Thrive Marketing Consultants and we can help build buyer personas tailored to your business and then launch marketing tactics that speak to them!


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