James is a middle-aged man who works as a sales executive for an oilfield services company that manufactures drilling instruments. He's married and has two children, ages 14 and 17.
He is a sportsman who loves fishing and hunting, along with a good game of golf every now and then. During football season, you'll find him in front of the TV watching his beloved LSU Tigers.
His major pain point so far as business is concerned lies in finding qualified leads to fill his sales pipeline. He lacks technical skills and does not use the Internet for prospecting. He's also uncomfortable using technology such as mobile devices.
Oh, and by the way, James is not a real person.
He is a "persona," a fictional character created to represent a certain customer type within a targeted demographic.
Here's the point…
Companies have long attempted to satisfy marketing research goals by focusing on demographics: "middle-income females between the ages of 25-44" or "18 to24-year old males with average incomes of $24,000 per year"--that sort of thing.
If we're doing a really good job, maybe we bake in some behavioral information, as well.
And our marketing messages represent this limited understanding of the customer… and they know it…and they turn us off because of it.
Here's the answer…
In order to effectively reach today's customer, we need a much better understanding of who he or she is. No better way exists to accomplish that goal than by creating buyer personas that transform generic statistics into real people.
What buyer personas look like
Here is a sample persona checklist. The precise details you’ll want to include depend on your company's marketing.
- A one to two-page narrative profile for each persona.
- A few fictional details about the persona’s life—an interest or a habit—that makes each person unique and memorable. When you start here, the hypothetical constructs spring to life.
- Brief outline of a daily work day or day at home (depends on who you are trying to reach), including specific details, likes, and dislikes.
- Name, age, photo, and personal information.
- Work environments if you’re trying to reach professionals, rather than individuals, including length of time in the job, professional development habits (if marketing services such as training for social workers on public benefits), information- seeking habits and favorite resources, personal and professional goals, colleagues with whom the persona works most closely, etc.
- Personal and professional goals.
Sample buyer persona
James is a sample persona that serves as a good example to follow.
How to create buyer personas
Here is a buyer persona checklist from marketing automation software provider Marketo.
Where to start
- Determine their goals and attitudes.
- Ask: What do you they know? What do they respond to? What are their behaviors? Do qualitative research to gather this knowledge.
How to get information
- Schedule user interviews that last about 20 minutes.
How to create personas
- Develop unique segments that group goals (what they want to accomplish), behaviors (what they do), and attitudes (knowledge, perception) into groups.
- Distinct from each other > Cover the market > Feel real (I’ve talked to that person!) > Easy to explain
Tips for creating buyer personas
- Create comprehensive list of your personas and make them available throughout your organization.
- One program should target one persona.
- Smaller, super-targeted campaigns are better for keeping a focus on individual personas.
- Hubspot post on creating detailed personas.
- Free template for creating personas.
- A site dedicated to understanding buyer personas - BuyerPersona.com.
Let me leave you with these questions…
Who is your customer? What are their names? How much do you really know about them? If those are questions with which you wrestle, my advice is to create buyer personas that represent each customer group.
The more you know about your customers, the better equipped you are to delight and amaze them.