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Buyer Persona Explained & How To Create One [Step By Step]

Let’s talk about how to create a buyer persona and how to do target customer research so that you can create products and services that your customers really need. 
 
If you plan on getting customers you need to become an expert in your niche and that means you also need to become an expert in understanding your customers.
Now, let’s get into it.
 
This is what we will cover:
 
  1. What is a buyer persona (customer research)?
  2. Why do I need a buyer persona?
  3. How to create a buyer persona – a step-by-step template
  4. Buyer persona example
 

What Is A Buyer Persona?

 
A buyer persona is just a description of one customer that represents all of your customers.
 
You can create a buyer persona by doing customer research. I couldn’t find a good definition of customer research so I created my own:
 
Customer research is the process of discovering as much information as you possibly can about your customers so that you can optimize your products and services based on their needs and create more effective marketing campaigns.
 

Why do I need a buyer persona?

 
A lot of new business owners make the mistake of spending a massive amount of time and money on marketing before getting a real understanding of their target market.
 
This is a huge mistake.
 
If you attract the wrong people they will have no interest in your products or services.
 
There’s simply no point in wasting time and money bringing people to your website if you’re not confident that you’re offering exactly what those specific people want.
 
There are two critical reasons you need to create a buyer persona:
 
  1. It allows you to optimize your products and services based on the needs of your customers. If you’ve done enough market research to confirm that there’s a strong demand for your product then the next step is figuring out how you will differentiate yourself from your competitors by offering some unique features that customers value and are actually willing to pay for. And the only way to get that critical information is by doing customer research and creating a buyer persona.
  2. It allows you to create more effective marketing campaigns. If you’re confident that your product or service does a good job of fulfilling the needs of your customers you can start marketing. But where are your customers and what are you going to say to them when you find them? You need to do customer research to figure out how to reach them and create messaging that appeals to them.
 
You’re probably thinking, well I plan to offer my services to a wide range of people. It’s impossible to know what all of them want. And you’re right.
 
This is why you need to create a buyer persona for your customer.
 
This is the process of creating a detailed profile of a typical customer and it allows you to create specific products and services, marketing materials, and content that will appeal to one person.
 
This is obviously much easier than speculating about the needs of thousands of different people.
 
The research that we’re about to discuss relates to individuals but if you want to take a B2B approach then the only difference is that this research should be applied to the individual decision maker in the business that you will be targeting.
 

How to create a buyer persona…step by step?

 
Think of this as a buyer persona template or guide that you can follow step by step
 
Demographics
 
The first step is the easiest – researching the demographics of the customer.
 
This can include any statistic that describes your typical customer.
 
This is a list of the most common demographics:
  • age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Educational level
  • Income
  • Ethnicity
  • Number of children
  • Marital status
 
If you already have the traffic coming into your website it’s easy to figure out the demographics.
 
All you need to do is install Google analytics and it will tell you everything you need.
 
If you have an active Facebook presence you can also get demographic information from the analytics on Facebook.
 
If you’re just getting started and need to know how to get demographic information while having no existing customers, you can do your best to predict your buyer persona.
 
For example, you can just Google “demographics of [insert target customer type]”.
 
Go ahead and repeat this for several related keywords and look for trends.
 
Psychographics
 
Psychographics allow you to create an additional layer of information about your customers that includes their values, preferences, and attitudes.
 
You need to get answers to questions like this:
 
  • What are the most common questions that they have about the problem that you can solve with your product or service?
  • How knowledgeable are they about the problem?
  • How important is the problem that you can solve to them? Is it just something they want or need?
 
Answers to these questions are obviously not found in analytics tools.
 
You’ll need to get this information by observing and maybe even interacting with your potential customers.
 
If you already know about forums and social media groups that attract your audience then you need to spend some quality time reading as many questions and answers as possible.
 
This will uncover a lot of “facts” about your customers but it will also give you a more instinctive and intuitive understanding of your customer.
 
You need this instinctive understanding of your customer to make decisions and judgment calls when the data cannot make a decision for you.
 
Look for information about what they like and don’t like. Look for common problems where people are struggling to find satisfactory solutions.
 
Use all of this information to put yourself in their shoes and try to imagine what they would think of your product.
 
What do you think they would like or not like?
 
Do you need to add or subtract something in order for your product to appeal to them?
 
Do you need to add or subtract content in order to appeal to them?
 
If you don’t have any forums or groups in mind, just Google it.
 
One good place to start is Reddit. The reason Reddit is useful is that the major subreddits have a large number of participants and that’s important when you’re trying to develop a persona.
 
You need your persona to reflect the needs of your entire audience rather than a small number of individuals that might dominate the discussion on a small forum.
 
The other reason that Reddit is useful is that it uses the concept of upvoting. It makes it pretty easy for you to see what your audience likes and doesn’t like because they’re literally voting on what they like and don’t like.

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Behavior
 
You spent a lot of time looking at what people are saying but interestingly people don’t always act in a way that is consistent with what they say.
 
For example, there’re a lot of people that pretend to read a lot more than they actually do.
 
If you’re planning on offering content that will attract real paying customers then you need to understand how people actually consume content rather than how they say they will consume it.
 
You need to know:
  • What formats do they prefer – text, video, audio?
  • How often? Daily, weekly monthly?
  • What length of content do they prefer?
 
You can get some answers by going back to the groups and forums where your audience hangs out.
 
When people link to content from a post, do they link to a video or a blog post? If they’re linking to videos, take a look at the videos.
 
Do they have a large number of views? More importantly, look at the like-to-dislike ratio.
 
If it’s very high this could be an indication that these people prefer to consume this type of content via video.
 
If they link out to blog posts, take a look at the blog posts.
 
Are they just brief summaries or is it long-form content that goes into a lot of detail?
 
You also need to research the issue of credibility.
 
If you want people to consume your content or buy your products or services you need to establish your credibility first.
 
Take a look at the comments in the forums and groups and figure out who seems to have developed credibility and who hasn’t.
 
For those that have developed credibility, try to figure out why?
 
Is it their background? Is it simply the result of a lot of activity in this group or forum?
 
What do you need to do to build credibility in the eyes of the same people?
 
Buyer persona example: iimagine
 
For people that don’t already know what iimagine is, it’s a platform that allows entrepreneurs to develop ideas, get funding, create a team and promote their business all in one place.
 
So, the target customers are obviously entrepreneurs.
 
Now, the interesting question is – what is an entrepreneur?
 
As far as I’m concerned 90% of people that call themselves entrepreneurs are not entrepreneurs at all.
 
They’re just small business owners that like the idea of being called an entrepreneur. Anyway, that’s another topic for another time.
 
So let’s see what this buyer persona for iimagine looks like based on data for the United States then let’s talk about the parts of this persona that are useful and also talk about the limitations of buyer personas.
 
This is the buyer persona of the typical entrepreneur:
  • Has a university degree. In fact, 95% of them have degrees but only 1 in 5 entrepreneurs think a college education is important. This is an example of an important psychographic.
  • Male. The breakdown is 60% male, 40% female.
  • White. The breakdown is 79% white, 7% black, 10% Hispanic, Asian 4%
  • Late 30’s.
  • 70% of entrepreneurs are married
  • The average salary is $68,000.This is surprising to me. It seems low.
  • 22% of entrepreneurs attribute to luck or good fortune to their success so approximately 80% take view that they control their own fate. This is another example of an important psychographic.
  • 3 out of 5 entrepreneurs say that they got started because they either didn’t want to work for someone else or their family responsibilities required non-traditional employment. In fact, started out as an entrepreneur at age 23 because I refused to work for someone else. This is a major issue for a lot of entrepreneurs.
  • 68% of entrepreneurs say that they got started because they wanted to capitalize on an opportunity that came their way. This is interesting because the implication is that two-thirds of them would not have become entrepreneurs if the opportunity did not come their way.
  • 3 out of 4 entrepreneurs say that one of the primary reasons why they began their work was because they wanted to build wealth for their families.
  • 69% of entrepreneurs say that their preferred primary place to work is their home office.
 
So, how do I interpret this buyer persona and actually apply it to my business?
 
Well, the first thing that occurs to me is that the average salary is only $68,000, and 3 out of 4 entrepreneurs say that one of the primary reasons why they began their work was because they wanted to build wealth for their family.
 
That means that they have successfully launched a business that generates enough revenue to pay them enough money to live but they haven’t generated any wealth.
 
Of course, it’s possible to own shares in a company that is worth $100 million while paying yourself a salary of $68,000 but I’m guessing that’s not typical.
 
So, these people are internally motivated to want to increase revenue and that tells me that the part of iimagine that they will be most interested in is the networking tools that will allow them to partner up with other businesses to cross-promote their products for free.
 
And the messaging should include references to ’taking control of your future” and “building wealth for your family” from the “comfort of your own home” because this persona tells me that this how my target market thinks.
 
This research and the buyer persona tell me the problems that my target market wants to solve and it also reveals the hot-button issues that I should include in my messaging.
 
If you don’t do your research, you’ll never have this information and you’ll wonder why you’re not making any sales.
 
So that’s it. Keep in mind that you always have the option of creating more than one buyer persona if your product or content appeals to very different people.
 
Either way, you will be executing a well-considered and well-researched plan rather than just hoping that things magically work out.
 
In order to keep the research you need to do for your business really simple, I decided to break it down into 3 areas: customer research, competitor research, and market research. I made articles/videos about each one.
Finally, if you want o make a visual buyer persona, try a tool like Xtensio.
 

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  • Adam Radly

    Founder
    Founder of IIMAGINE. More than $100M raised. TEDx Talk about passion > 1 Million views. Founder of World Reconciliation Day with Nelson Mandela. Founder of One Direct Democracy.