What are personas?
Buyer personas are a tool for marketers to model the ideal customer(s) for your company. While each persona is fictional, the persona is based on real research as well as buyer insights.
A buyer persona is meant to be an extremely detailed generalization for many of your customers. For that reason, it’s important not to base your persona on an individual person. Between just a few personas, you should be able to represent the major needs of your ideal customer base.
Buyer personas are neither stereotypes nor archetypes – they are realistic but fictional representations.
Why are personas important?
It’s challenging to generate content or write an email intended for a large group of people. Now, imagine if this entire group were characterized by a single persona. Addressing this persona is much easier – and creates better-targeted content – than addressing a large group.
Personas allow for your customers to be both humanized and simplified. They allow you to create content with clear intention and direction.
Also, personas allow your content to become more customizable. Digital marketing is easily segmented and tracked. For example, sales emails can be segmented based on persona, and each email can utilize a particular voice and message. If a particular channel or type of content is underperforming for a persona, the content can easily be modified to better target the persona (i.e. those consumers).
What types of information should I include in my persona description?
In general, the description of a buyer persona should answer this information:
- Personal life (married? children)
- Location (urban, suburban or rural)
- Education level
- Job role
- Company size
- Skills required
- Typical day
- Goals (personal and work-related)
- Publications or blogs read
- Associations, social networks and hobbies
For detailed descriptions of all of these fields, check out this list from Hubspot.
What’s an example of a buyer persona?
This infographic below details three buyer personas for one of our clients, Colorado Ear Center, a hearing clinic in Denver. These three personas represent a total of 88.1 percent of CEC’s customers. The other 11.9 percent of CEC customers are not represented by a persona.
How many personas should I have?
Essentially, you should minimize the number of personas you have without overgeneralizing (or “watering down” the personas) in order to focus your marketing efforts.
You don’t need a persona for every role. For example, Hubspot has a persona named “Marketing Mary” who is a marketing professional – either a VP, Director, or Manager. By utilizing market research, Hubspot found that differentiating between these three titles did not add value to the personas.
Do I have to sort my customers manually?
Not necessarily. Customers can self-select which persona (if any) with which they identify. This often happens during lead creation. For example, if a potential customer were to fill out a form for the Colorado Ear Center, there could be a question that asks:
A question like this can help categorize the potential customer into a buyer persona.
What should I do if a persona isn’t working?
First, determine why the persona doesn’t fit. Is this persona too aspirational of your ideal customer (meaning that customer may not actually exist)? Has your company changed significantly since this persona was created? Was this persona not based on market research?
If a persona isn’t adding value or insight to your customer base, ditch it! Buyer personas are meant to be dynamic, helpful tools.
Similarly, if you have a large portion of uncategorized customers, look through these customer profiles to see if any personal patterns exist. If any significant patterns do exist, create a new persona to represent these customers.
How can I fully utilize my buyer personas?
Buyer personas are the foundation of any great campaign. Ultimately, implementing buyer personas will help your company…
- Message ads and social media
- Better understand which channels to use
- Improve offers and landing pages
- Optimize sales enablement
- Grow brand awareness for appropriate segments
… and more! Buyer personas can help your company do everything from increase conversions to reallocate advertising dollars. Once you make a HUMAN out of your audience, the opportunities to better empathize and serve are endless.