How to create most comprehensive buyer persona
By Hitesh Changela - 11 April 2017 | Marketing, Buyer, Business Growth, Customer, Sales | 2308 words | 15-20 minutes read
Peter Drucker, the Father of Modern Management mentioned, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.”
Philip Kotler, the Father of Modern Marketing mentioned, “There is only one winning strategy. It is to carefully define the target market and direct a superior offering to that target market.”
There is a general belief among businesses that 90% of our success depending on marketing.
I have interacted with hundreds of business owners and business managers. Whenever I ask key question “Who is your ideal client?” If they are not business savvy then they would say “Pretty much everybody.”
We must clearly define our ideal customer and target market. We should then focus on the most profitable target markets which we feel we can serve better than anybody else.
This will determine our business success. We cannot be all things to all people.
We need to build demographic, psychographic, geographic and behavioral profiles of our customers. It will help us understand who our typical customer is and what our ideal customer profile will look like. We must understand our customers’ needs and behaviors better.
We should ask following questions.
- What is our target market?
- What could be our target market?
- Who is our current customer?
- Who could be our ideal customer?
Who is our Existing Customers, Best customers and Ideal customers?
Now let’s understand who are our customers, best customers, and ideal customers.
Peter Drucker defined customer in his book “The Five Most Important Questions. You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization.”
“To define your customer, you need to answer the question "Who must be satisfied for your company to achieve results?" as one who values your service, who wants what you offer, who feels it's important to them.
So the customer is someone you must satisfy. If you don't, you have no results. And pretty soon you have no business.”
Not all our customers will be our best customers. We can define our best customer based on a number of criteria such as:
- Lifetime Value, i.e. amount of business given to us over the years
- Yearly purchases
- Profit margin
- How long they are buying from our company
- Number of referrals given
- Repeat business attained: month after month, year after year
- High profile customer with an excellent reputation who can act as a brand ambassador for our company
- Hassle free customer who loves our products, services with almost zero maintenance
As a general rule, our best customer would be those customers who have given us the most revenue.
Ideal customers are those customers who could be our best customers, but it can also be different. e.g. if we are a start-up and if we don't have enough customers then we need to visualize who can be our ideal customers.
Ideal customers are those customers who are perfect in every sense. e.g. whose problems we are in the best possible position to solve, whose dreams/goals we can best help to achieve, who are most enthusiastic about working with us, they view us with esteem regard, they can compensate more than our effort.
They are more than happy to work as brand ambassador for us and promotes us.
They know us, they like us and trust us.
As now we understood who are a customer, best customer, and ideal customer. Let’s defined buyer persona.
Buyer personas are a detailed generalized representation of the best buyers or the ideal buyers so we know exactly who they are so their demographic, psychographic, geographic, behavioral characteristics, but most importantly their buying behavior regarding what they buy, when they buy, where they buy, how they buy and most importantly why they buy.
Benefits of buyer persona
There are multiple benefits of buyer persona.
- We would get real powerful insights and clarity regarding our
- Existing customers
- Best customers
- Ideal customers
- A shared understanding of buyer makes sales and marketing much more effective because of clarity and consistency.
- Articulate the value proposition clearly
- Identify ideal or best customers and target similar customers
- Generation of more quality leads
- Better conversion of those leads into customers.
- Shorter sales cycle
- Effective use of budget. More profit.
- All marketing effort such as email marketing, content marketing can be much more effective as it's targeted and personalized not generalized because we truly understand the needs and wants of customers
- Consistency and relevancy across all sales and marketing material such as website, email, social media, brochure
- Identify opportunities for development of new products and services as well as improvement of existing products and services.
- To improve customer service and build better customer relationship by keeping in touch regularly.
- The process of discovering buyer persona itself gives such invaluable insights so better understanding of customers and it would help the organization to become customer focused.
How to create buyer persona
- Identify our ideal/best customers
- Get the demographic, psychographic, behavioral characteristics using tools like
- CRM or Sales & Marketing automation tools
- Website analytics such as Google Analytics
- Social media analytics such as Facebook Insights
- Social media profiles such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter
- Online Customer Surveys
- Now to understand their buying behavior we must interview our existing customers as well as non-customers such as prospects, who choose another vendor and ex-customers.
- We should then compile and analyze all the research to reveal the buyer persona. It could be a single or multiple personas.
- Now find the stock image of real persons (neither sketch photos nor celebrities) who best represent buyer persona and assign to them.
- Use CRM or other such software to maintain and use a persona.
Negative persona is the opposite to our ideal/best customers. Whom we don't want to attract into our business as either we can't help them or they can be damaging to our business.
- They are too expensive to acquire
- They don't have the budget or authority
- They may never buy our product or service
- They moan and foul mouths our products, services of company
- They constantly complain our products or services are too expensive
- They think our products or services are substandard and demand unreasonable service expectation
- They do not show respect to us and our staff! Often express rude or aggressive behavior
- They do not pay us on time
- They rarely give constructive feedback!
- They are students/researchers/competitors who just interested in free stuff like a free trial, free content to understand our business or industry.
- They are asking too many
Top 10 uses of buyer persona
- Deep understanding of buyer profile and their buying behavior. We would know …
- Who are they?
- What are their goals?
- What are their problems or frustrations? What triggered buyer to look for a solution?
- What are their common objections?
- What are their decision criteria?
- Who are our, real competitors?
- Why customer choose us? Our key strengths against our key competitors.
- Why doesn't customer choose us? Our competitor's key strengths against us.
- What is the customer’s typical buying process and how long does it take?
- Who are the key influencers impacting the buying decision?
- Clarity about existing customers, best customers, ideal customers as well as worst customers.
- The organization becomes customer centric. We understand the customer We are now talking in the language they can understand. There could be shared understanding of buyer among different business functions such as sales, marketing, and customer service.
- Increase marketing effectiveness by contacting the right customer, with the right content, offer or email, at the right time. Better lead nurturing, therefore, better lead conversion.
- We can segment customer lists into smaller, more specific buyer persona lists and only target the most specific customers instead of sending out a broad spectrum email to our entire customer base.
- Better allocation of customer acquisition budget. More effective use of advertising budget.
- We can shorten the sales cycle because we are delivering highly targeted content to the buyer based on the stage of buying cycle they are in. This increases conversion thereby generating more sales.
- The content in all the marketing channels, e.g. website, landing page, webinar, seminar, brochure can be optimized as per the needs of different personas.
- New products/services development as well as improvement of existing products and services by keeping user needs and goals in mind.
- Helps us in onboarding of new employees as well as in sales and marketing training.
FAQs about Buyer Persona
How many personas do we need to create?
It depends on our marketing strategy, resources we have to execute. But around 3-5 persona is generally enough. First focus on buyer persona who can give us maximum revenue in minimum time, so we can get buy-in from other stakeholders.
What should we capture demographic, psychographic, geographic aspects or buying behavior when creating buyer persona?
Both are important. We can't ignore either of them without a deep understanding of buyer behavior mere demographic, psychographic, geographic aspects wouldn't be much useful. Also, without demographic, psychographic, geographic aspects, just buyer behavior is not inadequate as we can't practically apply.
What do we need to keep in mind when conducting buyer behavior interview?
- Interview can't be structured. It must flow naturally.
- Keep asking "Why?”
- If we don't know what question to ask then ask "Please tell me more." which would reveal more insights and we would also get a chance to ask a question.
- If possible, record the interview, of course with permission of the interviewee.
How long it takes to create a single buyer persona?
Again, it depends upon the resources we have to carry out research to find out demographic, psychographic, geographic profile as well as conducting a buyer interview and then compiling everything and produce buyer persona.
What needs to care once I have created buyer persona
- Use them. How you can apply in various functions of business such as sales, marketing, and customer service
- Keep refreshing them as buyers are dynamic.
Is there any reference guide If I want to create buyer persona?
We have created the most comprehensive buyer persona guide eBook. Check it out.
Would you help us in creating buyer persona?
Sure, please contact us if you need help creating a buyer persona.
Buyer Persona process
This guide divided in following eight sections. Each section has subsection.
- Company Demographic Characteristic
- Personal Characteristic
- Psychographic Characteristic
- Geographic Segmentation
- Behavioral Segmentation
- Wealth Segmentation
- Technology Awareness/Usage Segmentation
- Buyer Behavior Segmentation
Company demographic characteristic
- Company type
- Number of employees
- Annual Turnover ($)
- Number of customers
- Number of years in business
- Business model
- Functional Areas of a Business
- Geographic reach
- Location of company (Country)
- Average sales cycle (in days)
- Business Credit Score
- Business/Market Trends
- Competitive positions
- Corporate Title
- Generation cohort (e.g. Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y)
- Country of birth
- Country of citizenship
- Country of residence
- Years of Experience
- How job being measured
- Knowledge and tools use in the job?
- Career path
- Income Level (Per year in $)
- Relationship Status
- Family Size
- Family Life Cycle
- Household Income Level (Per year in $)
- Social Class
- City Size
- City Density
- Countries they operate/engage/do business
- Country Size
- Desired Benefits
- Usage Rate
- User Status
- Loyalty Status
- Buyer Readiness Stage
- Price Sensitivity
- Attitude toward Product
- Residential profiles
- Property Type (In UK)
- Car ownership
- Likely Number of Cars in the Household
- Likely Current Vehicle Age
- Gadgets they own
- Number of Credit Cards
- Travel frequency/status
- Wealth status
Technology awareness/usage Segmentation
- Is buyer tech savvy?
- What social networking sites they use?
- How often they use the internet daily?
- What mobile operating system they use?
- What Internet Browsers they use?
Buyer behaviour segmentation
- What are their goals?
- What are their problems/challenges? What keeps them awake at night?
- What are their success factors? What is the outcome or benefit of buying from your brand?
- What are their common objections?
- What are their some decision criteria? i.e. Features, Quality, Price, Service, Performance, Durability, Reliability etc.
- The stage of buyer journey
- Roles played by a buyer while making a buying decision
- What are they day to day activities of the buyer?
- What factors influenced their buyer behaviour
- Buyer’s attitude towards risk
- What trusted information resources they refer to make a purchase decision?
- How do they buy? What channels are customers using to buy?
- How many people involved in the buying process?
- Which stage of sales process buyer in?
- Describe a recent purchase similar to product or service you are trying to sell.
- Where do you find them? What lead sources generate customers?
- Where your competitors are getting customers from? Which are lead sources working from them?
- Why did the customer choose you?
- What do they like the most about you than your competitor?
- Why didn’t the customer choose you?
- What do they like the most about competitor than you?
- How often customers typically purchase products or services? This should help you to assess buying patterns and identify new sales opportunities!
- How long have customers been purchasing?
- What communication channel they preferred?
- What publications do they read?
- What blogs do they read?
- What associations do they belong to?
- Do they shop online?
I am very interested to hear what are your thoughts? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.