What is a buyer persona (or customer avatar)?

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional, generalized, representation of an ideal customer.  It's a picture of the customer you want to have.  The most valuable buyer personas are based on a combination of internal insight, market research, and interviews / surveys of actual customers.

 

Why is a buyer persona important?

A detailed buyer persona will help a business owner determine where to focus investment and can drive consistent messaging about their targeted sales audience across the organization.  It really should be the first step in the sales & marketing planning process.

Through tangible customer profiles, buyer personas help a business understand their customers and prospective customers better.  With a defined buyer persona portrait in place, it becomes easier for a business to tailor content to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different customer groups.  As a result, a business owner can attract the most valuable visitors, leads, and customers to a business.

With the contents of a buyer persona profile, we can work to align a content strategy to the path of specific buyer personas as they travel through the awareness, consideration, and decision phases of the buyer's journey.

 

A Sample Buyer Persona Profile

 

Do I need a buyer persona for small business?

The unhelpful short answer is "yes and no". 

Creating a buyer persona can be hard, especially for small business owners who find it difficult to justify the time and investment into a concept with which they have no previous experience.  

When YOU SHOULD NOT consider creating a buyer persona?

  • You like to gamble.
  • You expect immediate results from your investments.  
  • You don't care about taking the time to refine your sales &  marketing efforts because things are working "ok" now.
  • You lack the organizational leadership to implement this type of change.

When YOU SHOULD consider creating a buyer persona?

  • You are open to some risk, but prefer to base your decision making on insights and research.
  • You are comfortable with doing some research and definition up-front to see long-term residual benefits.
  • You want your sales & marketing investments to make more sense.
  • You want to save some money by optimizing your sales and marketing spend.
  • You want to increase your conversion rates (visitor-to-lead, lead-to-opportunity, opportunity-to-sale).
  • You are interested in uncovering different promotional opportunities for your business that you may not have previously considered.

A small business can get off-track quickly when an owner can't see the forest through the trees.  We've tried to simplify the buyer persona process for small business by creating a few marketing resources to help small business owners understand the value of a buyer persona, collect survey data from their ideal customers, and leverage a pre-built template for buyer persona profile creation and marketing content mapping.   


8 Steps To Create A Buyer Persona For Small Business

  1. Look through internal data to uncover trends from leads and customers.  (Look in CRM, Quickbooks, Google Analytics.)
  2. Develop an questionnaire / electronic survey.  (We share a sample of ours here >>)
  3. Send an electronic survey to contacts.  (We can help you collect buyer persona data from your customers)
  4. Further interview a cross section of customers via phone or in-person.  (Ask open ended questions and ask conversational follow-up questions in any area where they exhibit some passion/emotion because this is where the most valuable insights will be.)  
  5. Conduct a session with your internal sales team to share insights and gather their feedback
  6. Combine insights from surveys, interviews, and sales team to create a buyer persona profile.
  7. Give your buyer persona a name (like "Frank The First-Time Home-buyer" or "Dave the Divorced Dad") and attach a realistic photo to better communicate persona visually throughout your company
  8. Create marketing content and marketing campaigns that targets the buyer persona's demographic and appeals to the pain points, challenges, and goals of your buyer persona

Buyer Persona Resources

20 SampleBuyer Persona Survey / Interview Questions To Consider Asking Your Ideal Customers

  1. Gender?  Age?  
  2. Household income?
  3. What is their job and level of seniority?
  4. How large is their company?  Revenue?  # of people?
  5. How would they describe what a day in their life would look like?
  6. How long have they worked for their company?
  7. What was their career path?
  8. Are they married?
  9. Do they have children?  How many?  How old?
  10. Where do they live (suburbs, city, rural)?
  11. How do they conduct their daily travel?
  12. What are their entertainment preferences?
  13. How do they communicate (phone, email, in-person)?
  14. Do they have an assistant?
  15. Do they prefer information via email, phone, postal mail?
  16. What do they value most? What are their job goals?
  17. What are their pain points and challenges?
  18. Where do they go for information in their industry?
  19. What objections might they have about your product/service?
  20. What satisfaction have they had with your product/service?

Have more questions?  We're happy to help.  Contact us here.  Or start creating your buyer persona here.


Jeremiah Johnson is the Founder and Chief Marketing Strategist at Touchline Marketing, a boutique digital marketing agency in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Touchline Marketing helps busy owners & executives at small & medium-sized companies establish a professional digital marketing presence.  Owners and executives partner with Touchline so they can spend less time on marketing execution and more time on business strategy without the typical investment involved with staffing and training an internal digital marketing department.

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