Persona development begins with recognizing that your brand is not for everyone.
You don’t want to market to all 8 billion people on the planet — that would be unaffordable and inefficient. Instead, you only want to market to those people who are a good match for your product or service: people who need it, can benefit from it and/or would like it.
But who are these people? Where are they? And how can you connect with them?
These are good questions, and a buyer persona is the answer to them all.
What is a buyer persona?
A buyer or customer persona isn’t a real person. Rather, it’s an imaginary character with the traits that typify your ideal customers. Usually, a persona description will include:
- An easy-to-remember, evocative name. A family-friendly restaurant franchise might identify “Supermom Sandy” as its ideal customer, while a lawn-service brand might name “Grillmaster Gary.”
- Demographic information. All the basics: age, gender, education, occupation, income, ethnicity and marital and family status.
- Lifestyle description. This is a mini-biography that spells out what this character is like: how they spend their days and what they do for fun.
- Groups and memberships. This might be a gym, a parent association, a church, a bowling league, a chamber of commerce or a motorcycle club.
- Mindset. An explanation of what the persona wants and needs in life — their goals, values and beliefs.
- Frequent whereabouts. Wherever the ideal customer tends to spend their time and attention.
- Influences and information sources. All the media the persona uses: podcasts, blogs, radio, websites, magazines, television shows, and social media platforms.
- Brand-relevant beliefs and emotions. A pet care franchise brand would want to explain how their persona feels about entrusting their fur baby to a stranger; a beauty brand would want to spell out how their persona feels about their appearance (and spending money on it).
- Pain points. A clear description of the problematic “before” situation that will change into the desirable “after” when the buyer persona becomes a customer.
How to create a persona.
What you’ll need: brand familiarity and insights, multiple perspectives and the data you’ve gathered in your CRM.
Everyone who works at your company, from the service team to the C-suite, possesses knowledge about the consumers who need and appreciate what your brand has to offer. Who are the happiest customers? Who provides the best reviews and testimonials? Who comes back for repeat business?
Get folks from every facet of your staff to share their perspective about your ideal customers — the ones you have today and the ones you think you could win in the future — and contemplate their defining characteristics.
Here are some of the questions you’ll want to answer:
- What traits do your best customers have in common? Consider everything — the way they think, the way they behave, their habits and headaches, their passions and aversions. Any commonalities are worth noting and exploring.
- What problems do they have that your product or service solves? What do these problems feel like to them? How are they dealing with the problems now? What kind of solutions have they tried and found lacking?
- What objections are they likely to have to your offerings? By identifying these potential obstacles, you can also figure out the best way to address or prevent those objections.
The best source for persona development? Real customers.
You can’t make a good buyer persona without understanding your real-life buyers.
You have a lot of valuable data in your CRM. But you can go even deeper by interviewing your customers and digging into their online comments and questions.
Figure out what they love about your brand and where you could appeal to them more effectively. Quantitative data is helpful, but you especially want that personality-packed, truly human qualitative information. Capture your customers’ language. Get a sense of their priorities. Notice their emotions. Then you’ll be able to weave the most salient, similar qualities into a customer persona that everyone at your company can truly understand and work to serve.