What is the buyer persona?

The buyer persona is an archetype of the ideal customer of a service or product.

It takes into account specific sociodemographic data and information on aspects such as your online, personal, professional behavior, and the relationship with the company that offers this product or service.

Since one of the pillars of inbound marketing is to create valuable content that arouses the interest of the audience we want to reach, building the profile of buyer persona can be important to identify, not only with the concerns, interests, and pains that it may have, but also – and even more important – how you look for them and where.

One of the most important characteristics for the buyer persona (which is also usually the main differentiator between one buyer person and another) is pain. Although the term “pain” may seem inappropriate, in reality, we call any need, motivation, or concern that the buyer person has and that can be solved with our product or service.

If we know the pain of our ideal client, we know something very valuable; your driver, the motivation that drives you to do a certain search on Google or inspires you to buy what our company offers you.

Therefore, it is very important to have a very clear mental image of our buyer persona. To achieve this, we need to gather much more information, which will not only help us create the content with the right approach but also the content strategy in a global way, the brand image, and the selection of channels through which we will disseminate. What information is it about?

  • Personal: hobbies, people who influence your decisions, what makes you happy, what are your goals, what are your motivations, etc.
  • Online behavior: what social networks do you use if you buy products online and what kind, where do you look for information, how often do you do it, what are your reference pages, what hours are you online, etc.
  • Work conduct: responsibilities, challenges, greater influences, etc.
  • Relationship with our company: what do you know about us, reasons why you have hired or bought us, how did you meet us, what do you value most about us as a company, what interaction you have with the brand, etc.

Later in this article, we will give you some practical advice when creating your buyer persona. But first, let’s see why it is important to create our buyer persona.


The buying process and the funnel

One of the greatest advantages of inbound marketing is its ability to reach the right profile at a very early stage in the purchase process of our potential client, or even receive visits from profiles similar to our buyer persona who have not yet realized the need that the service or product of our company can cover.

All this happens as part of a purchase process that has the following phases:

  • Awareness: it is the moment in which the consumer realizes that he has pain, concern, or motivation and begins to search for information about it. Our goal in this phase is to provide him with content that is useful to him to better understand what his problem is and how he can solve it.
  • Investigation: it is the moment in which the consumer gathers information about which products can solve their pain. For our part, we must deliver content about how our product or service can solve it.
  • Decision: the consumer is already aware that he has a need, has identified it in part thanks to us, and has begun to assess the options that exist in the market related to that product or service. We must provide him with content about our product so that he knows all its advantages and characteristics.
  • Action: coupons, free trials, product sheets … At this point, we must take the reins of the process and carry out the necessary actions so that the client, who has already started their valuation of the options, is convinced that our product is the best choice. If we can capture their attention and adapt to their purchasing possibilities, the process will have been a success and we will surely be able to reach new customers.

To the purchase process, we must be clear about the concept of the funnel, which is often used inaccurately.

To begin, it is convenient to clarify the difference between commercial funnel and marketing funnel, which work in the same way but at different stages of the sales process. The first is related to the process that a company starts when it detects a business opportunity and ends when the said opportunity becomes a real customer. On the contrary, the marketing funnel is placed above the commercial funnel. It follows the same process as this one, but its starting point is the launch of a marketing strategy and its finish is achieved when the business opportunity appears. In other words, the marketing funnel precedes the commercial funnel.

The image of the funnel speaks very well of how the process works, as it involves the development of advertising and marketing strategies that guide specific customers or business opportunities through various stages. The main phases of the funnel are the following:

  • Top of the funnel or TOFU: refers to the highest part of the funnel, where the advertising and marketing strategies that the company will implement are located.
  • Middle of the funnel or MOFU: evaluation and analysis take place in the middle of the funnel to specify business opportunities.
  • Bottom of the funnel or BOFU: in the lowest part of the scheme is the result, which is usually personified in real clients.

Buyer persona vs. Target

Commonly, the concepts of the buyer persona and target are often confused. Although at first glance, it seems that they refer to the same thing, the truth is that they have substantial differences that should be known. We explain them to you in this section:

The target or target audience is a more abstract concept. Groups several people without their entity. Therefore, only by identifying our target is it difficult to personalize content without the anthropomorphization of the profile we are targeting and it is also likely that we will find different buyer personas. Let’s see the main differences between one concept and another:

  • The target chooses specific audiences based on aspects such as sex, age, purchasing power, among others. The buyer persona, on the other hand, defines needs.
  • The target focuses its efforts on the segment of the public that it has defined to sell its product or service. The buyer persona applies the need that has been identified to various segments of that audience, beyond gender, age, or purchasing power.
  • The target, by centralizing its work in a single segment of the public, tends to forget about other equally profitable segments. The buyer persona takes advantage of various audience segments that share the same need.

Buyer persona: types

Now, there is another difference, which occurs in the final part of the process. The buyer persona does not always have to be the one who decides to buy the product or service. In fact, there are three buyer persona profiles:

  • Decision maker: is the person who can make the final purchase decision. It tends to be the most widespread case, especially in B2C.
  • Prescriber: the person who recommends the product. A very clear example could be that of a doctor who may be the prescriber of a certain drug.
  • Influencer: the person who, with their opinion, can positively or negatively influence the purchase decision. It is very important to know who the influencers of our buyer persona are, as this will help us decide which blogs and profiles on social networks are worth contacting to get some kind of collaboration.

The role of the buyer persona in an inbound marketing campaign

Until recently, audience segmentation was done taking the target group model as a reference. A very clear case happened with a product that we all know, the KH7 degreaser. To market this product, the company developed a strategy aimed at women of lower-middle social class and who did not work outside the home, since it understood that they were in charge of the kitchen work and that, for that reason, they would be the ones who most show interest in soap.

However, this strategy did not take into account other audiences that might have been interested in the product and who also represented an important part of its customers, such as those men who need some type of grease remover to clean the wheels of their cars.

When we define the buyer persona, unlike when the target is chosen, we make a segmentation based on the need that the product or service tries to cover. Hence, the marketing strategy must be developed based on the benefits implicit in the product, regardless of whether the need is for men or women, young or old, upper, or middle-class people.

Expressed graphically, the buyer persona model would be represented by a scheme of interconnected circles, each representing the profile or segment of the population that could be interested in the product to satisfy a specific need.


Main advantages of defining an archetype

We have already talked about the main characteristics of the buyer persona, how it acts in the marketing and sales processes, and its differences with the target group model. Now we need to take a look at its main advantages :

  • It helps to better understand the audience (or audiences) you are targeting. Usually, this is done through generic interviews that advance the marketing or sales areas of a company. At other times, they are of a specific type. Whether it is one or the other case, the objective is to better understand the client’s profile.
  • Know what type of content to create and with what style to do it. This means that we must better understand the interests, concerns, and pains of our potential clients, as well as the sociodemographic data that help us create content regarding the topics to be discussed.
  • Know where to find our buyer persona. Once we have completed the entire process, we will have a more precise knowledge of how our buyer person interacts, what social networks they use, what blogs they follow, and what searches they do on the internet. Looking ahead to future strategies, we will have saved a lot of ways.
  • Optimization of the marketing resources of the company. Finally, when the job of identifying our buyer persona is well done, the resources that we use in other strategies from there will be optimized. We will not have to act with uncertainty and the risks of these actions will be minimized.

What should you take into account when creating your buyer persona?

It is very important to do a good job and spend time defining buyer personas. The success of an inbound marketing project depends on this work being successful. Therefore, in the process of creating your buyer persona, keep three important aspects in mind:

  • The buyer persona is dynamic: do not consider the finished work at any time. In most cases, you will be completing the description over time, as well as adjusting details as you progress in your knowledge of the client.
  • You do not need a complete description to start working: you will surely have many questions to define the buyer persona, but you do not need to answer them all to work. You can launch your marketing strategy with the minimum and expand and revise the description as the project progresses.
  • Details matter: taking your ideal customers into account and understanding their concerns or pain points, along with their profile, will help you build effective buyer personas.

What information is needed to create a buyer persona?

In addition to all of the above, when we talk about the ideal buyer or client it is also necessary to take into account the company that leads this process. As is well known, not all companies operate in the same way, nor do they have the same expectations, needs, and action plans for their audiences.

In general, it is about taking into account aspects that we often overlook and that, in this particular aspect, require attention:

  • Market context and current situation of the company.
  • Product lines and what each one consists of.
  • Invoicing: what is the star product, the most profitable.
  • Available resources: people involved in the inbound marketing project within each of the company’s departments.
  • The organizational structure of the marketing and sales departments.
  • Current marketing actions: what actions are being carried out and for which products, what content is being prepared and through which channels are it being disseminated, what is the result of these actions, and how the return obtained is measured.

This allows having a clear image of the company as it is and of the moment in which it is.

When the project is developed externally, through a specialized marketing agency, this phase is even more necessary to avoid making errors of the approach based on the lack of contextual information about the company. In the case of projects developed internally, many of these aspects are already known by those responsible for the project, so this phase can be greatly shortened and this time used simply to go deeper into obtaining very specific information related to the strategy of the company.


Step by step in creating the buyer persona

We have already mentioned that each company identifies and classifies its buyer persona according to their criteria, needs, and expectations. It is the price to take into account these steps to create them:

Step 1. Identify what information we need to develop buyer personas.

The first step is to develop the questions that we are going to ask to obtain the information we need. We must use the correct words and approach.

Let’s take a look at a buyer persona definition script as an example. These questions are a guide to the information you should get from your buyer persona, which you will have to adapt to your sector or type of company so that they make sense.

Role

  • Role in the company or in life?
  • The job that performs?
  • How is your role/title measured?
  • What is a normal day like?
  • What skills do you need?
  • What knowledge and tools do you use?

Company

  • What company do you work for?
  • What is the sector of your company or the company where you work?
  • What is the size of your company?
  • What annual turnover does it reach?
  • How many workers do you have?

Career goals

  • What responsibilities do you have in your position?
  • How do you measure success?

Challenges

  • What are your biggest challenges?

Information sources

  • How do you learn new knowledge for your job?
  • Publication and magazine titles you read?
  • What blogs and web pages do you consult?
  • Associations and social networks to which it belongs?

Personal details

  • Age, family, education, city of residence

Buying preferences

  • How do you prefer to interact with commercials? (email, phone, in-person)
  • Do your research on the internet before making a purchase? As it does?

Step 2. Determine how we are going to investigate buyer personas and how we will obtain the answers to the questions we have asked.

The simplest option is to conduct interviews with current clients, whether individual or group. You can do it in person, by video conference, or by phone. You can also use the consolidated customer surveys or do it through someone in the commercial department who has direct contact with customers.

Another option is lead intelligence tools, which help us extract additional information. For example, what content people are interested in, what social networks do they use, etc. In these cases, our database can be of great help to us, both for making a list of clients and for getting to know our contacts better.

It is recommended not to speak only to “good” customers (those who are satisfied with our product or service). Talking to dissatisfied customers allows us to better define the buyer persona because in this way we understand the reason for their dissatisfaction. For example, a product that is too complex or not prepared for large companies, etc.

Talking to existing customers has the advantage that we do not have to compensate them as is normally done in surveys or interviews (normally participants are given a gift card, for example). Customers want to be heard, so interviewing them gives us the opportunity to get to know them better and, at the same time, motivate them to become more loyal to our brand. We have to make it clear that we are looking for your feedback and that the team values ​​it very much.

If you don’t have customers yet, you can make hypotheses using logic and adjust them as new customers come in.

Some alternatives are other contacts in your database that are not clients (leads or contacts, for example), or you can also ask experts and influencers to recommend someone to interview. You can start by searching for LinkedIn and find these people through contacts you have in common. This is especially useful if we want to enter new markets in which we do not have a database.

Step 3. Carry out this investigation, gathering information and answers, and write down the majority answers on the buyer persona development sheet.

When we contact our candidates for interviews, we can follow some tips to help us get a better response:

  • Make it clear that it is not a sale: we are not asking for your time to offer you a product, but our goal is to establish a dialogue that allows us to know information about your life, work, professional challenges, etc.
  • Use incentives: usually, gift cards are used, for example from Amazon. In cases where they have established clients, the presence of incentives will not be necessary, but if they are not clients it can be of help.
  • Making it easy for the interviewee: it involves being flexible with the hours, proposing several time options for the call, sending an invitation to their calendar, proposing several ways to do the interview, etc.
  • Collect all the information in the same place: it allows to detect of trends and similarities in the answers. The recurring information is what we add to the buyer persona development sheet. We can use tools such as Google Docs, Excel, Trello, or Evernote, among others.

Step 4. Use a buyer persona development sheet for each profile we have.

The purpose of these sheets is to establish the base of the profile. If we mix the profiles, it will be much more difficult to get clear information from the interview or survey process. Let’s see the sections that a buyer persona development sheet should have:

  • Demographic information
  • Job and level of professional experience
  • How is a day of your life
  • What are your pain points and how we can help you fix them?
  • What do you value the most? What are your goals?
  • Where do you look for information?
  • What kind of experience are you looking for when researching our products or services?
  • Most frequent objections to our product or service

Step 5. Convert the development sheet into a complete buyer persona profile, using good buyer persona development practices.

Once the corresponding information has been collected, it is classified. The idea is that each development sheet allows you to create a personal buyer profile.

To do this, it is necessary to take into account a series of good practices:

  • Focus on motivations and not on behaviors: it is more important to understand the reason why the buyer person does something than what exactly they do. The issue should be focused on why you use a particular tool, how and where you seek a specific solution or achieve a specific goal.
  • The buyer persona has to be realistic: even if it is a false profile, you have to make it specific, but not too much. Keep a balance, which is descriptive enough, but not so much that it only fits exactly with one or people who match this buyer persona.
  • Choose a primary buyer persona, who you will focus on at the beginning. The rest is secondary.
  • Tell the story of the buyer person: your job is not only to present a list of their characteristics, you have to give a detailed representation of who they are as a person.

Step 6. Tell the complete story of the buyer persona following good practices and the complete profile.

Following the good practices of the previous section and the profile that we have obtained after the surveys and interviews, it is time to write a brief report that describes not only the buyer persona but also integrates its main characteristics in a context. For this, aspects such as the following can be assessed:

  • Job and demographic information
  • What is the day of your life like?
  • What are your challenges and pain points?
  • Where do you look for information?
  • What are your main objections to our product or service?
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