How to Pinpoint the Buyer Persona for Your Company

Sean Lund-Brown

When you know how to connect with your audience, it can make all the difference for your business. Developing buyer personas is a powerful way for companies to understand their target market and reach them most effectively. Doing so can help you cut out leads that may not be likely to convert — and help you reach the kind of leads that will move all the way through the sales funnel.

However, pinpointing the buyer persona for your company can be complicated. We'll break down how to create buyer personas, what to avoid, strategies for using your buyer personas, and how to cut out bad leads that aren’t likely to convert to paying customers.

The basics of buyer personas

Buyer personas represent your company’s ideal customers, created based on data and research. Pinpointing the right buyer persona for your company is a crucial step in growing your business. Accurate buyer personas can give your whole organization insight into your ideal target customer.

Beyond this, buyer personas can allow you to cut out bad leads that won’t likely convert to clients. Instead, focus on targeting prospects and developing new products (and changing existing ones) to fit your target customer. Just as importantly, be sure to communicate all of this information to your sales, service, and marketing teams to get everyone on the same page.

Buyer personas identify and describe who the ideal customer is for your business. Understanding the needs and challenges of your buyer persona can help you identify ways to improve your business and increase your sales.

Why do buyer personas matter?

One common goal for service and product-based companies is customer satisfaction. A satisfied customer is often more likely to purchase from you again, refer business to a friend, or write a positive review about your business. Creating well-researched buyer personas can help keep you focused on delivering customer satisfaction.  

When choosing between the many available options on the market, most consumers will tend to select the business that reflects their values and acknowledges their needs. Buyer personas can allow you to adjust how you approach different types of customers, attracting people who connect with your business’s goals and need your solutions. As an example, you may understand that most of your customers are young professionals searching for pet sitters. Buyer personas thus serve as an important guide for a business owner or marketing manager to create systems and marketing campaigns to reach that customer.

But this isn’t enough. You need to have a detailed understanding of what those buyers’ needs and interests are in order to reach them.

How can you use buyer personas?

Buyer personas are a valuable tool for any business owner or marketing manager. There are several benefits, including increased customer insight, cohesion across departments, and increased sales. The principle is simple: when you know your buyer, you know how to sell to them.

Personas can also help guide the direction of your business as you tailor your products and services to fit the demand. You can use buyer personas in any of the following ways:

  1. Buyer personas can help your sales team identify pain points for your target customers. Understanding common concerns with your buyer personas can allow for additional training of your sales team. A team prepared for specific objections and concerns will ultimately produce more effective sales because they will understand customer needs.
  2. Buyer personas can be a tool for your marketing team. You can create effective marketing strategies using buyer personas. Furthermore, personas can allow your marketing team to see reactions to events and promotions. For example, if a promotion event concept isn't well-received by your typical buyer, you should adjust. On the other hand, if you receive record-level engagement on a social media post inviting customers to photograph their dogs beside your product, this is a good sign that your persona research paid off.
  3. Buyer personas can identify product opportunities for your business. Understanding what your customers need, want, and don’t want can help you develop new products or change existing products to help serve your target customer. If your persona research shows that your customers need to find pet sitters with experience handling a certain breed, this is a search feature your product team could develop.
  4. Your customer support team will benefit from buyer personas as well. As your customer service team (along with sales) represents the face of your business, buyer persona insight can benefit this side of the company as well. If you learn that your customers value responses to emails within two hours, you can work to implement that response time.

What are some different types of buyer personas?

As you start researching your buyer personas, you may have many questions. You may think that you can start with a pre-made buyer persona and adjust it towards your business. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

Because each business is unique, buyer personas are rarely standardized. Rather than choosing from pre-existing buyer personas, stop and think about what someone buying from you really wants and needs. What is their specific problem? What about their life, career, and other aspects of their personality helps you understand how to deliver solutions? You can use a variety of sources and techniques to develop your persona, from customer service insights to surveys from past customers.

What are some of the key components of an effective buyer persona?

The purpose of a buyer persona is to develop insight on your customers, including their wants, pain points, demographics, information sources, frequently asked questions, demographics, and more. Even though buyer personas are fictional, they should be recognizable and appear as real as possible.

For example, let's say your ideal customer is a Marketing Director. The Marketing Director persona should be named and coupled with a profile picture. For example, “Mark Smith, Marketing Director at XYZ Company” with a picture of an actual person is far more identifiable than a generic “Marketing Director.”

This can help make the buyer persona more recognizable and effective for your team. Other important elements to consider for a compelling buyer persona include the following:

Customer goal

Effective buyer personas indicate what customers are trying to accomplish. This allows you to adjust and align your service, product, or content with those outcomes in mind. You have to understand what your target customer is trying to get from your business.

For instance, a customer’s goal might be to secure the best possible pet sitter for their animal — and they’re willing to pay more for higher quality service.

Demographic information

Many types of demographic information can be important, but you should start by paying attention to age, income, and education. Other essential demographic information might include location, political affiliation, and more. Demographic information can be beneficial in creating buyer personas.

Pain points

It often only takes one bad experience to lose a customer for life. Addressing these pain points can help your customer service team be better prepared when they arise.

Going back to our example, let’s say your customers are most frustrated when pet sitters fail to communicate promptly while the family is on vacation. This can help you adjust your guidelines for contracted sitters and customize elements on your app or website.

Information sources

Identifying where your customer is getting their information can help you. If most of your client base is on social media, that is important to know. If any of your clients aren't regular internet users, that is important to know as well. Whether your target customer prefers digital material or paper handouts and flyers, knowing this information can be a huge help for your business.

Frequently asked questions

If you don’t know the answer to something, most people would look it up online, right? Well, you want to capitalize on those common questions. A buyer persona should help summarize the most common questions that potential customers might be asking. Knowledge of these questions can help you in several ways. It can allow your customer service team to be more prepared and guide your website. If you have questions commonly recurring, include the answers in an easily accessible area on your website.

Other important information to include in a buyer persona might be personality type. What kind of person is using your business — or may want to use your business? Keep in mind that developing customer personas can be as much about serving your existing customers as it is about creating new opportunities and leads.

How do you get the information you need for a buyer persona?

Now that you know what you need when creating a buyer persona, it's time to accumulate the important data you need. Some practices you can use to get data for creating buyer personas are:

Get feedback from your sales team. The sales team interacts with customers more than almost any department. Every time an associate interacts with a customer, there's a chance for you to collect essential data. Ask for general advice when dealing with customers. What questions are they asking? What objections do they have? What roadblocks are they helping the customers navigate regularly?

Use your contacts database. This can allow you to see trends with your customers. How are they accessing your business? Is there a way to streamline this to make it easier for all target customers?

Collect data from forms on your website. Many websites have a form for potential customers to fill out. If you don't have one of these, consider adding one; they're fantastic tools. You can use the data verified from this form to guide the creation of your buyer personas. Consider asking for the age (or age range) of potential customers. This can indicate demographic information for you to focus on.

Survey and interview potential customers. A follow-up survey is a great way to see where you're falling short. Try to keep these short and simple to encourage more participation from your customers (and lost customers too). You may want to use incentives, such as coupons, to get more people to participate.

Once you have accumulated the necessary data, you will be well on your way to creating effective buyer personas. The next thing you will want to consider is input from your team.

Designing customer surveys to create buyer personas

Buyer personas should take into account a variety of information. As mentioned above, much of this information comes from research. One of the most useful research tools is to speak directly with customers to understand what they’re looking for in your product or service. This may be accomplished through phone surveys, fillable digital forms, email questionnaires, and more.

Here are a few things you can cover in a customer survey:

Start by asking for personal information. This may include marital status, age, location, and more. Understanding the demographics of your employees can be as important as the demographics of your customers.

Their goals and challenges with the product or service. Asking customers about specific goals and challenges can help you see issues from their perspective. This can provide insight into how your customers are spending their time with the product or service and how you can tweak the whole process to make it smoother for them.

Their improvement suggestions. This is a good opportunity to find out what a customer’s own ideal solutions would be to their pain points. Even if you can’t implement these suggestions right away, they can offer you valuable insight for future development.

Likelihood of recommending to a friend. Your customers’ likelihood of spreading the word about your business is telling. If you’re getting low scores here, you may want to seriously think about addressing your customers’ pain points more effectively.

Targeted questions related to the product or service. You could develop many specific questions about your product’s focus area. For instance, you could ask pet owners about how they prefer to initiate contact with a sitter, or whether they prefer an app or browser experience for the service. Additionally, you can ask them specific questions about their preferences for the customer service experience.

As mentioned, you may want to offer incentives in order to encourage participation, as customers may be unlikely to engage with a survey voluntarily. You could offer discounts on future products or other rewards.

Creating your buyer personas

Now that you have gone through the survey process with your customers, you probably have all sorts of valuable data. It can be a bit overwhelming, but be sure to take things one step at a time. Your next goal is to convert that data into something useful to benefit your business.

You know that all of the information you learned about your customers is helpful. The next issue is determining patterns and trends, creating at least one buyer persona, and sharing the persona with key members of your company.

Creating your first buyer persona can be done using a variety of templates that can help keep you organized. Whether you're using a template or working from scratch, an important detail to start with is demographics. Use the information you have accumulated from surveys and interviews to determine patterns in your target customer's demographics.

There are many demographic categories, and every business is unique. Many companies will benefit from information about their customers’ age, income, and location. Other key factors may be race, religion, and more.

Other elements to include in your persona writeup

Another detail to be sure to include is your buyer persona's goals or motivations. While organizing this data can be more complicated, look for repeated phrases or words. If your customers have a shared motivation, this can help you develop more targeted marketing campaigns. What brings customers to your business? What are your persona's goals for the future? Most importantly, how can your business give your target customer what they need?

While this data can be challenging to parse, customer motivation is truly the most important thing for any business trying to acquire more customers.

Additionally, include some complete quotes in your buyer persona as well. These can be taken from any surveys you received from your customers. Choose customer complaints or objections that are common. A customer’s exact words about their goals and needs can be very valuable to a sales, product, or customer service team.  

Changes to your personas

Remember that your buyer personas aren't set in stone. You can change and adjust personas as you get to know your customer base better. As your customer base grows, you can make increasingly specific buyer personas and augment your original one to fit your business needs better. Also, you can make as many as you need to fit your different target audiences.

Ensure that your entire team is familiar with your buyer personas. This will allow for more consistent service delivery across employees, departments, and service locations.

How many buyer personas do you need for your business?

Well, every business is different — even ones that compete with each other. Therefore, there is no set number of buyer personas you need. Some companies may need as many as twenty, or even more. For smaller businesses, you may be able to use three to five, or maybe even less. There is no established minimum or maximum amount of buyer personas you need to be effective.

The important thing to remember with buyer personas is that they're effective. If a persona is vague or not specific enough, it should be revised or replaced. Continue to accrue data to determine which buyer personas should be your focus. Without a complete set of information, including demographics, goals, frequently asked questions, and pain points, a buyer persona can be more trouble than it's worth.

Creating additional buyer personas can be helpful when the new persona is based on a company goal or are shifting to meet a new need. You may want to consider creating a new buyer persona in the following situations:

● You've introduced a new product or service that targets a new or different customer base than the one you typically serve.

● A timely event, such as a regional natural disaster, has created significant changes in customer demands.

● One of your buyer personas is too broad and should be split into two different ones. As you accrue more data about your customers, you may find that what you thought was one buyer persona should actually be two.

The purpose of buyer personas, in general, is to continue to drive growth and better serve your customers. If your buyer personas aren't helping to serve these purposes, you should reconsider them.  

Negative buyer personas

A buyer persona is the ideal customer for your business. You want to attract more of this type of person to grow your sales and industry in general. A negative buyer persona is the exact opposite.

A negative buyer persona is a profile of the type of customer that won’t be patronizing your business. This is useful for identifying leads that you should disqualify. In many cases, creating a negative buyer persona is done more easily after making your positive buyer personas. Just like with traditional buyer personas, it's important to have key data.

Demographics is the critical data point for the majority of negative buyer personas. If your business is a bar or liquor store, it's pretty easy to identify the demographics of customers you don't want.

To legally order or purchase a drink in the United States, you must be at least twenty-one years old, right? So it would be a complete waste of resources — and an illegal effort — to advertise or market to a younger demographic. Certain religious groups discourage drinking as well, so it would be a waste of resources to include certain religious practitioners in your marketing.

Of course, it's important to remember that any paying customer is a good one in most businesses. Don’t create negative buyer personas if you don’t need them, as this can lead to missing out on customers you do want. You certainly don't want to drive potential customers away from your business. For this reason, a negative buyer persona should be extremely specific — even more than a traditional one. Craft this negative persona by determining the aspects of a buyer that make them a poor lead for your business. Input from your sales and marketing team could be especially valuable for this task.

Effective uses of buyer personas

Okay, so you have taken the time to accumulate the necessary data and build your buyer persona. It's time to put all of that hard work into action and start using buyer personas to drive many different aspects of your business.

Often, business owners and marketing managers may struggle with this — but that's usually because they're not considering their buyer's perspective as they create content, design products, or plan marketing campaigns. Here are some practical ways that you may be able to use your new buyer persona.

Use your buyer persona as inspiration

When creating marketing and advertising, keep your buyer persona in mind. Consider having a printout of the persona in front of you, or at least easily accessible. This can allow you to direct your message more succinctly to the potential customers you're trying to draw in. Ideally, you should consider the buyer persona when you are writing.

● What were their needs and motivations?

● Why have they chosen your business in the past?

● What are some possible objections they may have?

● Can you address those before they bring them up?

Use the persona process to understand customer behavior shifts

As you continue to develop your advertising and marketing strategy, your buyer persona will help you with this. Remember, as times change, so does your business and your potential customer pool. You may not always understand what's causing those changes from the surface view. That's where another deep dive into your buyer's brain can help.

Keeping your buyer persona current will allow you to stay relevant. It's a good idea to update them regularly, either quarterly or semiannually, even if you don't think things have changed too much. These changes don't always have to be major, but it's a great opportunity to reconnect with your customers’ needs.

Consider current events as opportunities to revisit your profiles. Ultimately, staying current with your buyer persona(s) allows you to pivot more effectively in the future.

Use your buyer persona to drive content

If you have content that won't appeal to your buyer persona, why are you using it? When creating content for your business, your first concern should be how your buyer persona receives it and whether they find it valuable. As you or your team create content, regularly reference your buyer persona. Ask yourself: What content is most relevant and useful to this audience?

Use it to identify concerns and areas for improvement

This can include incorporating a frequently asked questions section on your website. If you have a question that frequently occurs, consider building content around it. This can lead to more engagement, drawing in your target customers.

Work to improve overall service

While you most likely created your buyer persona to benefit sales and marketing, your whole business can benefit. For example, a buyer persona can be invaluable for training new customer service associates.

Instead of that new person learning through interactions with customers (and potential frustration for both), training with a buyer persona can allow your new employee to be familiar with common objections, pain points, and pitfalls. Buyer personas enable a top-to-bottom form of communication across your business.

Expand your reach using your buyer persona(s)

The goal of many businesses is continued expansion and growth. However, determining the best market to try and expand into can be difficult. Buyer personas make it easier and more effective to do so. If you're considering expanding geographically, demographic information related to location can be beneficial.

As you research the persona details for people in a certain region, consider their unique needs and interests. How will they use your product or service? What could their unique pain points look like?

If you're considering offering a new product or service, pay special attention to your buyer persona's goals. Creating new products and services for your customers can be expensive and arduous. Use your buyer personas to feel confident that you're making the right decision.

Create a style guide to match your customer’s voice

Your buyer persona can also inform how you convey your messages to your customers. To keep your team on the same page, everyone should be using the same terminology. For example, if you own a café, consistency with terms is important. Craft your team's messaging so that all associates are speaking with jargon you're confident your buyer will understand and recognize. This can also help build brand culture. Consider creating a simple style guide for the best terms for products, features, or services.

Tracking your buyer personas

All of these processes are ongoing. In other words, just because you created a framework doesn't mean that you're finished. Personas need to be refined, improved, split, and sometimes removed, so it's important to see how you're using them. Your buyer persona should grow and change as your business and target customers change.

Since there are a whole host of ways to use buyer personas, you'll want to track this. Think about key performance indicators that pinpoint how well they're working:

● How often are certain personas used?

● How effective has content directed to your buyer personas been?

● Is there a way to make your personas have a more narrow scope?

All of these are important considerations as you maintain and track your buyer personas, sometimes adding more along the way.

How to cut out bad leads that won’t convert

Knowing when to pursue leads is a crucial skill for your sales team to have. You and your team should focus energy on leads that have the potential to convert to clients rather than spending unnecessary time on leads that may not pan out.

One effective way to do this is through ranking or scoring leads.

Using the buyer personas you've created, your sales team can prioritize what leads they should follow. They can focus on the customers (or potential customers) that will purchase and benefit the company — that is, people whose needs and interests are aligned with your personas. Remember, if you plan your entire marketing and sales strategy around buyer personas, those personas should be accurate and well-researched.

Just like with your buyer persona, your sales process may be a work in progress. As a business owner or Marketing Director, this kind of work never stops. Continually monitor your leads. What makes a lead more desirable and therefore worth pursuing?

As you work to refine this process, your sales team will improve and provide you feedback as well. The data accrued from sales, missed sales, and leads can help you continue developing the buyer personas you need for your business.

How Smith.ai can help you manage your leads

Buyer personas are a valuable tool to any marketer — but just like holding a hammer upside down, a tool is only effective if you use it correctly. It's not enough to have buyer personas stuffed in your desk drawer. They need to be effective, efficient, regularly maintained — and they need to be engaged.

When your customers need to connect with your business, you can rely on the tools from Smith.ai to handle the task. Smith.ai can follow up on your contact forms, handle your call answering, and return calls to leads. Our services also include lead qualification and lead intake, appointment scheduling, 24/7 live-staffed website chat, and more. With Smith.ai, you don’t have to worry about cutting out bad leads on your own. We can help you with the task.  

To learn more about our services and pricing, or get started risk-free with our 14-day money-back guarantee, set up a free 30-minute consultation with our team. Get support in landing the leads that can take your business to the next level.

Sean Lund-Brown

Sean Lund-Brown is a current Marketing Assistant for Smith.ai. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Sean graduated with a BA in Music and an individualized degree in Teaching Vocal Pedagogy.

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