Buyer personas are fictitious representations of your startup’s target buyers — or simply put, what your average customers look like. Who is going to need what your startup is offering? Where are they and how will they find you? The Internet has made it easier than ever for brands to reach a vast audience. However, just because you can reach as many prospective buyers as possible that doesn’t mean you should do so without defining a target audience. Attempting to reach out to a large, undefined group of people can dilute your messaging strategy and its effectiveness.
Building buyer personas can help your startup develop the foundations of your marketing campaign and help you understand everything you need to know about your target audience. Buyer personas can incorporate not only demographic data but also behavioral insights. By dividing up your target audience into specific characters, you’ll be able to cater your marketing strategies effectively to their needs.
So how do you create buyer personas? If you already have existing customers, developing your buyer personas is a lot easier. You can use their demographic information, buying habits, and feedback to find similarities and construct distinct profiles.
If you’re just starting out, you can also gather information for your buyer personas by going where you know your potential buyers are already hanging out. Come up with a list of the top websites, blogs, or social networks that your target audience visits often and read the discussions, comments and complaints they are sharing. Your sales team can help you identify any current customers’ pain points and help you understand why they need your product or service. Conducting surveys or interviews with your current customers is another great way to learn more about what their specific needs are, what they value, and how you can better your solution.
When you’ve gathered enough information about your target audience, you can begin creating your buyer personas. Try detailing the following information for each profile:
The basics — Begin by laying out the demographic basics of each buyer. Are they male or female? Age range? What is their level of education? Where do they work? Where do they live?
Give them a name — As your buyer personas begin to take shape, you can bring them to life by giving them a name. It may sound unnecessary, but it can make it easier for others on your startup team not involved in the development process to remember who the target buyers are.
Tip: Use alliteration to make your personas more memorable. For example: Matt the Marketing Manager
Values — Define what is important to each of your buyers. What are your buyer’s goals when using your product or service? How do they define value? Are they more interested in the quality or the price-point of your solution?
Where they spend time — Where are your buyers hanging out? Are they using Twitter or forums to share information or read reviews? Understand where your buyers like to spend time and include that information in their profile.
Include quotes — Gathering feedback from your existing customers is very important and can help bring your buyer personas to life. Be sure to collect quotes anytime you are conducting interviews or surveys, or gather quotes from social networks or review websites that list your company.
When your startup team decides to start the process of building your buyer personas, one of the tools I highly recommend is the design thinking process. With the help of Laura Lospennato of the Design Thinking program for Buenos Aires Emprende, we have used this process to develop buyer personas for Wideo and as a creative, repeatable tool for discovering new opportunities.
This methodology is a problem-solving technique that begins with defining the problem (i.e. your undefined target audience), creating many options (evaluating multiple buyer personas), refining those options (finding the similarities and pinpointing exactly who your buyer is), and then finalizing and executing your new targeted marketing plan.
It’s important to remember that as your startup grows, your buyer personas will need to be updated and reflect the new information you gain from your marketing efforts. You may constantly need to change certain aspects of your buyers’ profiles to maintain the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, but that is part of the growth process.