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8 Secrets of Creating A Useful Buyer Persona

Buyer Persona: another buzzword, a sham instrument without any real power? No! A skillfully created Buyer Persona can become a foundation of your strategy and communication. According to research, implementing Buyer Personas can improve conversion by 10% and increase email campaign efficiency 18 times. Sadly, due to common misconceptions, marketers don’t always manage to exploit full potential of that tool. Below we bust popular myths and share tips on building useful Buyer Personas.

What is a Buyer Persona?

A Buyer Persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer, based on:

  • Analytics of demographic and behavior,
  • Research,
  • Interviews with actual customers,
  • Surveys,
  • Social media analytics,
  • Feedback from sales and customer service departments.

Creating a Buyer Persona means translating outcomes of our inquiries (numbers and data) into more comprehensible and human image of the customers: their shopping habits, temper, budget, the way they use our product, and the style of content consumption.

Conditions for success

Such a model serves a better understanding of customer, optimizing marketing actions and improving communication inside the company (because it provides cohesive vision of customers), and helps indicate directions of innovation. In order to fulfill that function, Buyer Persona must contain these three features:

Purposefulness: You do not build a Buyer Persona just for the pleasure of the process, but for achieving communication goals. Thinking about personas in category of their function helps you concentrate on relevant aspects of the model.

Focus: Avoid overloading your Personas with trivia (too specific data, unrelated to your business) and paying undue attention to giving your Persona proper material form and its life story. In order to be useful, a Buyer Persona must consist of specific information – do not cram it with irrelevant trivia or mere speculation and wishful thinking.

Diligence: Creating a Buyer Persona requires interdisciplinary knowledge and various competencies, from analytics to sociology. Although you don’t need a diploma in anthropology and Big Data to build your Persona, you should adopt a scientific mode of thinking: logical reasoning and knowing the difference between a fact and an interpretation and a hypothesis. When building a Persona you operate on a huge amount of various data from diverse sources. To create an adequate, relevant model, we need to handle them competently and critically.

Buyer Persona is NOT…

The keys to efficient Buyer Persona is to understand what it really is and to avoid common misconceptions on the topic. That’s why we will take a moment now to examine these false beliefs.

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Buyer Persona is NOT:

A Generalisation of One of Your Customers

 Don’t fall into a trap of thinking that your most loyal customer is also a universal matrix of your recipients. Collect massive amounts of information to draw out their common features. Don’t go the other way round.

A Product of Marketer’s Wishful Thinking

Marketers overlook their actual customers and often speak to some imaginary target, and their Buyer Personas reflect that. A false, unrealistic image of a target group harms your business. Focus on the data and don’t let your personal preferences overshadow reality.

A Brand Hero

 A Brand Hero evokes what your company offers. A Buyer Persona represents your customers. Don’t impose one on the other: you and your customers don’t have to be identical! If you reuse your Buyer Persona as a Brand Hero, you change the perspective and unify your consumer and brand. Moreover, a Buyer Persona evolves: you get new knowledge, verify previous hypotheses, and the audience itself changes. Your Brand Hero should be stable and constant while Buyer Personas require regular revisions (more on that below).

Secrets of Creating Useful Buyer Personas

You know that your persona works well when you use it a lot, when you’ve learnt more about your customers, when you go back to your persona(s), when it inspires you to creating new products, and when you see increased customer engagement. If you succeeded – good job! But if you’re not there yet, see our tips to avoid mistakes and save time:

1. Use Various Sources

Don’t base your persona on a narrow section of data or one source. Complete analytics with a survey, talk to the customer service. Draw from many sources to verify what’s vital.

2. Be Critical

When you build a persona and list its features, habits, preferences, or interests, ask: “Where do I know that from?”, “Can it be contradicted?”. Note down what you don’t know and what is only a hypothesis.

3. Don’t Use Templates

A lot of websites offer lists of questions or schemes. Use them for inspiration, to compile your own lists of questions. What do you really need?

4. Reduce

Don’t overload your persona. Compose it of specific information – avoid any vague or too general terms and phrases, trivia, and speculation. The more unnecessary pieces you have, the more difficult it will be to find useful knowledge there in the future.

5. Know Which Persona Is Crucial

 Don’t creating too many Personas (two is enough, sometimes three are needed). When you have more than one, know which is more important to your strategy.

6. Be Careful With Photos

 It can occur that a photo added to your persona will carry some suggestions and modify your perception of the Persona. Put the photo at the end and remember that you don’t have to use it at all.

7. Revise

Your knowledge changes, your customer changes, and your business changes… So don’t treat Personas as something created once and for all, but devote some time to take a look at your Personas (once in two to three months as a rule of thumb). Is something different? Do you know something new? Since your Persona document should be around one page long, this task won’t be time-consuming and will allow you to understand customers better.

8. Use It!

If a Persona doesn’t serve your everyday work, during communication planning, it indicates that there are some problems. Does it has any value? Maybe it lacks important information? Maybe it’s too vague? Write it down – you can go back and investigate these areas when you have time.

Only everyday use verifies Persona’s value showing also problems and questions to answer. So prepare yourself not for quick template-filling but regular work on getting to know your customer better. Personas bring enormous value to your business as they allow you to narrow your focus and address proper areas of your customer’s interests. With them, you will be sure that you do not waste time, and that you hit the right spots which bring the desired responses – increased customer engagement.

If you want to learn more and start developing a persona of your own, download a free ebook on Buyer Personas and learn how to do it correctly without wasting time.

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Torsten Tromm

About the author

Torsten is CEO and founder of Userpeek. He is an old stager in the online business with 20 years of experience as an online marketer, conversion rate optimizer and UX strategist.

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