Buyer personas are, simply, fictional representations of your customers. You may not see them as that important – they’re not real people after all. But the value they can add to your marketing planning makes them an important part of your team.

We can all relate to Technical Tim, Hairdresser Helen or Fitness Fred – the very names themselves produce connotations of who these ‘people’ might be and what their key characteristics may look like.

And that’s without being a part of the business they belong to.

Imagine the significance of building on these names to create individuals, characters and personalities within your workplace. And even better if they actually represented the real people your business is looking to talk to.

So, why are personas so important?

Buyer (or marketing) personas are fictional and generalised, but truly invaluable. They are created to incorporate the various needs, goals and observed behaviours of your actual and target customers. Their sole role is to help you to understand your customers better. And it’s not just any customers we’re referring to, it’s your ideal customers.

Personas are used across all business functions, including marketing, sales, product and service. They bring to life the customers you are trying to attract (or retain) by internalising the key characteristics of their real-life counterparts. Each area of a business will have a different objective for a buyer persona, but each will fall within the cycle of customer acquisition and retention.

Information collected as part of the buyer persona journey will drive, for example, the type of content a business will create, the new products they’ll look to develop, or the sales follow-up process they’ll implement. 

Assumptions made using buyer personas can influence key business decisions, which is why they are so important.

Question: How do you decipher and collate this information to create the perfect persona?

Answer: You conduct research and analysis.

Here are four simple suggestions on how you can gather buyer persona information:

1. Your contact database

Start with your contact database and see if you can spot any emerging trends. How do people find you and interact with you? Are there similarities between the content they prefer and how or when this is available? There may be information held in the length of time someone has been a customer with you which then determines how often they engage with you.

The information you gather can be a combination of fact and educated speculation.   

 

2. Your website 

Give people a reason to get in touch with you by offering something they need on your website. You can simply create forms to gather their information in exchange for your promise to them.

Think carefully about the information you’re looking to gather. If there’s anything specific in relation to the trends identified in your contact database, then ask specific questions relating to this -  for example industry, company size or product specialism. 

 

3. Sales team feedback

Don’t be afraid to involve your colleagues, especially those who work closely with your customers. Your sales team could have valuable insights into the types of leads they’re interacting with the most.

They may also have new knowledge on the current needs or pain points of your customers which could be a result of feedback they receive on your content, for example. Is it of interest and value? How many people are reading it and where? 

 

4. Direct questioning 

Using questionnaires, surveys and interviews, you can obtain the information you need from your customers and targets at the time you need it. By asking the right questions to the right people, including customers, prospects, and those outside your contact database who have synergies with your target audience, you’ll start to build a picture.

You will need to make the effort to interview people either in person or over the phone, but the time taken will be worth every minute. The more factual the information you can gather about your product and service, the more robust your buyer personas will be.

 

And understanding who your customers are is as important as understanding who they aren’t. 

You need to make sure you gather information on both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ customers to build as complete a picture as possible. Only gathering data based on those who love your product will inevitably deliver biased patterns of behaviour, and reactions from you.

What’s next?

Once you have gathered all of this raw data, the key is in how you will use it to better understand your current and potential customers. And then how you will present it in a way that is helpful and engaging to everyone in your business. Your objective is for all employees to get to know, understand and apply your business personas like they were best friends. They are fundamental to driving your business forward.