The justification for creating Buyer Personas is that you do not want to market and sell to the whole world because that is a waste of your resources.

Instead, you want to know who exactly is your ideal customer  – the ones that are the most receptive to your products and services right now. Those people you can describe as Buyer Personas.

Persona-based marketing may seriously boost your metrics. For example, Greenline Marketing reports that “persona based marketing strategies see 10% higher conversion rates and 18% more revenue”.

So here’s the homework:

Buyer Persona in practice

The Buyer Persona is a document, where you record the characteristics of your ideal customer. If you have several different ideal customer types, you need one for each persona.

The information should include things such as age, title, position objectives, his/her superior and subordinates, but also how he/she behaves when he/she buys and makes decisions, and especially where he/she goes to look for information.

Typical buyer personas include the Expert, The Superior, and The Top Management, but you may very well have your business specific variations of these.

The buyer persona is an imaginary character because it sums up the characteristics of a group of people into one, and as such it generalizes human behavior.

However, it definitely must be based on researched facts about the group (and not on beliefs, assumptions or opinions). Thus, the document describes your typical, real customer. Further, when you want to address new, potential customers, you need to create a separate buyer persona for each of them and plan your marketing activities with them in mind.

Create the buyer persona from actual customer data

Record the basics

A well-documented buyer persona is not just a list of characteristics but reveals the way of thinking of the persona, the way they want to develop their work and make decisions. At the minimum, include the following:

  • His/her title, his superior’s title and the titles of his subordinates
  • The industry he’s working in and the size of the organization
  • His responsibilities, objectives, measures of success and typical challenges at work
  • How and from where does he gather information to support decision making
  • How does he communicate to other when he’s promoting his ideas
  • Add an imaginary name and picture for the persona
  • Include actual customer testimonials, because they make the persona come alive through feedback that you know someone actually gave.
  • You can find additional questions to ask in here and here.

Base the buyer persona on actual customer data

You can do your first buyer persona exercise on the fly, but as soon as you can, you need to adjust it with facts. You will get these or example from

  • market research
  • researching your own customer database
  • by interviewing your customers
  • from customer feedback
  • by observing your customers’ behavior
  • by talking to people in relevant Facebook groups or internet discussion forums
  • by asking questions from people in your email list or Facebook page followers

Example questions:

  • What’s the number one challenge you have with <the thing you want to promote>
  • What’s the best thing that could happen with <the thing you’re promoting>

How does he/she make decisions?

Take a step further and describe how he makes decisions. You’ll get valuable insight for the persona when you interview your real customers, such as

  • His priorities: is your product or service among the first to be acquired or is your turn after something else?
  • Success factors: what does the customer hope to achieve by buying your product or service?
  • Challenges: why does the customer not see your product or service as his best choice?
  • The customer journey: has he just started looking for information, is he comparing options or is he only missing one last piece of information so that he can decide?
  • What are the criteria based on which he’ll buy? Who’ll make the buying decision?
  • Describe the channel, the messages and the tone of voice needed to address each buyer persona. The Expert, The Superior and The Top Management all have distinct styles.

A complete buyer persona helps you deliver the right message to the right people

When you have perfected your buyer persona, you will be able to conclude

  • Who you still need to talk to
  • What information they are still looking or
  • When is the right time to deliver the information and in what format, and
  • What kind of arguments do you need to justify your message with?

Tools for creating buyer personas

You can first read this article by Contentools about buyer personas.

Here is also a very thorough introduction by Moosend to buyer personas and their creation.

You can then document your first buyer persona just with a simple text editor by brainstorming with your colleagues, no fancy tools are really needed.

However, by HubSpot is available, which will guide you step by step and produce a simple persona based on the answers you give. Or, use my template to record details in whichever order you want.

You may want to incorporate online surveys into your processes to gather persona data regularly.

You can also read a more in-depth example buyer persona in here, view an infographic about the BP content requirements and download a buyer persona template, all by the Buyer Persona Institute.