Buyer Personas: Do You Know Who Your Customers Are?

Every marketer thinks about their ideal customer - where they live, what they like, what they buy, where they buy it, and why. Creating a picture of that perfect customer goes a long way in helping consumer marketers determine where to spend their own money. A free, customizable template from HubSpot, "How To Create Buyer Personas for Your Business," provides a way to answer those critical questions about your ideal customer.

The report is divided into five sections, including a set of blank PowerPoint templates to create three customized buyer personas for your business. Here's an overview of what's inside, with excerpts from the report:

1) What are buyer personas?

"Buyer personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They help you understand your customers (and prospective customers) better, and make it easier for you to tailor content to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different groups.

The strongest buyer personas are based on market research as well as on insights you gather from your actual customer base (through surveys, interviews, etc.). Depending on your business, you could have as few as one or two personas, or as many as 10 or 20. (Note: If you're new to personas, start small! You can always develop more personas later if needed.)"

2) What are negative personas?

"Whereas a buyer persona is a representation of an ideal customer, a negative - or 'exclusionary' - persona is a representation of who you don't want as a customer.

This could include, for example, professionals who are too advanced for your product or service, students who are engaging with your content only for research/knowledge, or potential customers who are just too expensive to acquire (because of a low average sale price, their propensity to churn, or their unlikeliness to purchase again from your company.)"

3) How can you use personas?

"At the most basic level, personas allow you to personalize or target your marketing for different segments of your audience. For example, instead of sending the same lead nurturing emails to everyone in your database, you can segment by buyer persona and tailor your messaging according to what you know about those different personas.

If you take the time to create negative personas, you'll have the added advantage of being able to segment out the "bad apples" from the rest of your contacts, which can help you achieve a lower cost per lead and cost per customer (and see higher sales productivity). When combined with lifecycle stage (i.e., how far along someone is in your sales cycle), buyer personas also allow you to map out and create highly targeted content."

4) How do you create personas?

"Buyer personas are created through research, surveys, and interviews of your target audience. That includes a mix of customers, prospects, and those outside of your contact database who might align with your target audience. Here are some practical methods for gathering the information you need to develop personas:

  •  Interview customers either in person or over the phone to discover what they like about your product or service.
  •  Look through your contacts database to uncover trends about how certain leads or customers find and consume your content.
  •  When creating forms to use on your website, use form fields that capture important persona information. For example, if all of your personas vary based on company size, ask each lead for information about company size on your forms. You could also gather information on what forms of social media your leads use by asking a question about social media accounts.
  • Take into consideration your sales team's feedback on the leads they are interacting with most. What types of sales cycles does your sales team work with? What generalizations can they make about the different types of customers you serve best?"

5) Blank templates

After a series of four templates detailing the who, what, why, and how of a sample customer, the report provides four blank, duplicatable PowerPoint templates you can work with to develop your own buyer persona - or personas.

Published: June 24th, 2014

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