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Proforma Blog

Creating The Perfect Buyer Persona

By Proforma Durkee on February 11, 2015

group_of_peopleDid you know that some companies make up information when creating a persona of their customers--and expect this will actually work? It's true. But we know you wouldn't do that, especially after reading this helpful primer on buyer personas.

Here's a straightforward, four-step-process for creating the perfect buyer persona.


Step One: Have Real Conversations

A surprisingly high number of companies focus on using scripted questions and forms when performing buyer research. These questions might include everything from favorite TV shows to birth order. While the answers might be interesting, most probably aren't relevant to how the person thinks when it comes to buying from a company like yours. (Sure--if you're a cable company, you WILL care about the person's favorite TV shows. If you sell marketing services to dog groomers, however, you don't need to know Mike Jones loves Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead.)

Use the scripted questions as a starting point. But allow the conversation to progress naturally. That's the keyword: conversation. Keep it natural. Keep it real. And keep it on topic. 

Step Two: Avoid Irrelevant Data

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. The collection techniques of Big Data allow for massive quantities of data to be analyzed and factored in... but most of this data doesn't actually matter. Worse, some companies will go so far as to argue about whether their persona is male or female, and spend hours discussing the stock image that will be used.

If this is happening to you, then just flip a coin to decide, because that information isn't worth wasting time on. It's far more important to consider details like:

  • What tangible things a buyer associates with "success"?
  • What buying process are they most likely to follow at any given time?
  • What criteria go into making a decision about whether or not to buy from you?
  • What are the major priorities of your buyer?
  • Are there any perceived barriers that would stop a buyer from wanting to work with you?

Step Three: Narrow Down the Persona

There's no need to have a buyer persona for each demographic the company serves. In fact, for businesses with a wide customer base, this could be actively counterproductive.

Focus on creating the minimum number of buyer personas necessary to accomplish your goals, and consolidate these personas into a composite entity whenever it makes sense to do so. Details like income, job title, age, and ethnicity aren't always worth creating new personas to consider, especially for buyers who don't follow a traditional corporate hierarchy.

The ultimate goal is creating a buyer persona that offers a consistent way for your business to communicate with potential buyers. The further you can consolidate your methods, the more time and effort you can spend on improving your techniques.

Step Four: Avoid Making Things Up

We mentioned this at the beginning of the article, and we're going to talk about it more now. You see, believe it or not, companies can and do make assumptions about their customers and what they want a buyer to be like. However, reality is rarely obliging enough to offer endless numbers of ideal customers, and trying to do that only results in a lot of time, effort, and money wasted on advertising techniques that will never generate a return on the investment.

Under no circumstances should you create a buyer persona based on how you want customers to be. It's one thing to change your target demographics, but buyer personas should represent your customers as they are now. Successful companies usually spend several hours a month talking to customers to gather information and ensure the accuracy of data collected from other sources. Don't forget to talk to people who didn't buy as well. Their insights are often the most valuable.

Do you need help crafting the perfect buyer persona? We can help. Learn more about our digital marketing solutions.

proforma durkee your digital marketing agency


Topics: Marketing Tips, Inbound Marketing, Digital Marketing

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