Buyer personas allow marketers to gain insights into the buyer in a way that allows both sales and marketing to identify and empathize with specific segments of their target audience. These insights, when used to align content with the appropriate channels, translates into increased revenue and stronger brand affinity. To help you get started, we are sharing our B2C Buyer Persona. Simply download the free persona template, and replace the information we entered for Hannah, a stay at home mother of two small children. The step-by-step guide outlined below will help you document an effective buyer persona.
A few notes before you get started:
- Keep it fictional, but be realistic. While these are fictional characters, they are based in fact and should be based on qualitative and quantitative research.
- You don’t have to (and won’t) have answers for every question, and that’s okay. Complete what you can using your qualitative and quantitative research, and then use your best-guess to fill in the holes. Through experimentation and feedback from your sales team, you will learn if these assumptions are correct.
- The first draft is not the final draft. This is a living document that you will continuously update over time as you learn more about your B2C buyer persona.
- Put yourself in their shoes. Remember, you want to define the persona from their perspective – not yours.
Step 1: Personal Background
The background, or demographics, is the basic information about your ideal customer. For B2C personas, this can include age, gender, marital status, geographic location, education, career information or any other demographic or biographic information that allows you to better empathize with your target.
Thanks to your marketing database and/or Google Analytics, you already have a lot of this information. Combine it with some basic demographic research and you can complete a fairly accurate background for your target persona.
Pro Tip: Be specific enough that you can visualize the persona, but not so detailed that you limit who this persona applies to.
Step 2: Name
Adding a name helps to humanize the persona, painting a picture of a real individual. In addition, there is the added benefit of creating a shared language that becomes organizational shorthand for this very specific target.
Selecting a name that everyone can agree on is a lot harder than it sounds and it helps to come prepared with a list of names. For era-specific names, check out the Social Security Administration’s list of baby names or and online name generator.
Pro Tip: To keep the focus on your persona, avoid using a name of someone you know – this includes current customers, co-workers or family members.
Step 3: Photo
A photo puts a face to the name, and makes it easier to visualize the persona when writing content or discussing strategy.
Images can be found on Flickr by searching for “portrait” under creative common license, or through a stock photography website.
Pro Tip: Once your persona has been created, go back and consider if the subject in the photo you have selected embodies the descriptive information in your persona document. If not, don’t be afraid to make a change.
Step 4: Finances
Documenting the financial background of a persona, like income, spending habits and the personas preferred method of payment may influence how we market our products or services.
We can gather this information from sales records and customer surveys, as well as secondary research on generational buying power.
Pro Tip: A google search of “generational buying power” or “generational spending habits” results in numerous studies and surveys that have been conducted within the last 6 months and provide detailed information on the shopping habits of various generational groups. This secondary research is often free, and full of insightful information about your persona.
Step 5: A Day in the Life
A day in the life is meant to be a snapshot of how a persona spends their day, starting at the beginning. By identifying the things that are dealing with on a daily basis, we get a better idea of how their daily life may be impacting how they consume our marketing and sales messages, and may provide insights into new opportunities to connect with this persona.
Customer surveys, as well as experimenting with third-party data, can help to identify hobbies and other interests.
Pro Tip: Don’t try to capture every moment of their waking day. Your goal is to paint a picture, much like a movie or TV show packs days or weeks into a few select scenes.
Step 6: Hopes & Dreams
Hopes and dreams are the things that the persona wants or needs, both personally and professionally. Understanding wants and needs allows us to create more targeted content, and may even lead to the development of additional products or services as we identify gaps in our current offering.
Similar to fears, the sales team and forums/chat rooms can offer great insights.
Pro Tip: Does your persona have too many hopes and dreams (or not enough)? A little bit of rephrasing can turn a fear into a dream, and vice versa.
Step 7: Worries & Fears
When we understand the internal and external fears of our persona, we are better able to empathize with them. It is this understanding that allows us to craft messages that alleviates this fear, and may even evoke an emotional connection.
Industry surveys are a great resource for finding external fears, while the sales team and industry forums/chat rooms offer valuable insights into those concerns they may not be sharing verbally.
Pro Tip: To ensure an accurate (and actionable) persona, make sure you identify their top frustrations – not just the ones that apply to your product or service.
Step 8: Technology
In our digitally driven information age, technology is key. Information on our personas comfort level with technology, how they use technology and the information they are accessing with that technology will help us to determine our digital strategy moving forward.
Information on the devices they use can be accessed in basic analytics reports or marketing automation program. Comfort level requires a bit more digging, either through secondary research or primary research in the form of customer surveys.
Pro Tip: Don’t assume technology adoption is always congruent with age. Technology is less about age, and more about lifestyle.
Step 9: Social Media Profile
The social media channels used by a persona help identify where to invest marketing dollars. More importantly, their social media content offers unique insights into what the persona thinks and feels about our brands and products. The proverbial “fly on the wall”, if you will.
Social media analytics provide great insights into your current users, while industry reports on engagement and overall social media use may help to identify opportunities to increase share of voice with specific demographics through targeted messaging and content.
Pro Tip: While understanding which social networks your persona is using is important, it is equally important to understand how they engage. Are they actively posting, or just lurking? When they post, it is to ask for advice or comment on a brand? Are there posts positive or negative?
Step 10: What Influences The Persona
This section outlines where the persona gets their information. This may include specific publications, websites or other media channels, or even social groups. The key is to identify, as specifically as possible, where this persona is going when they have a question.
Customer surveys, focus groups and mentions on social media can all offer insights as to how the persona is accessing information, and what may be influencing their decision-making process.
Pro Tip: When looking at what influences your persona, consider the entire customer journey and consider who is most influential as they move through each stage of the buying process.
Step 11: Brand Affinities
Understanding the other brands that our personas are drawn to, or have connected with, can be a very powerful tool. It allows us to see the other brands that our customers are interacting with, either as complementary or competitive products. Either way, it provides context for the other types of interactions our customers are experiencing.
Customer surveys are a great way to find out the other brands that our personas are interacting with. They want to talk about who is doing it right, and who is doing it wrong. Both of these can be used to our advantage.
Pro Tip: Understanding the other brands that your persona is loyal can provide additional insights, as well as future business opportunities in the form of strategic partnerships and co-branding opportunities.
Step 12: Quote
A short quote can exemplify what the persona is all about, and encapsulate the persona’s attitude – either in general, or towards our products or services.
Inspirations for persona quotes can come from customer surveys, focus groups or from reviews and social media mentions.
Pro Tip: Think of the quote as a “check for understanding” – once every other section has been developed, compare your quote to see if it aligns with what you have documented. If it does, you are on the right track. If not, identify what feels “off” and work towards adjusting it.
To get started drafting your own B2C Buyer Persona, download the free template here.