Building a buyer persona can make a huge difference for your small business. The outcome of your efforts to boost your business understanding of customers is as strong as the personas you build of them. Building a buyer persona isn’t as complex as one may imagine; in fact, it can be done in five simple steps.
5 Steps to Build a Persona
#1. Research your Persona’s Demographic
Get to know your customers first. Survey people over the phone, online, in-person, or on the street (practicing social distancing, of course). Construct a questionnaire that gathers as much demographic information about them as possible.
Pro tip: Small businesses can use VoIP services to survey people over phone calls en-masse.
Let’s set a scene; you’re on a sales discovery call with two representatives of a prospective client talking about your new software to help them manage their social media content calendar with higher efficiency and reliability.
Person A leads the conversation and makes it clear that they would like a customized feature package with capabilities to schedule posts, optimize them, and track them while taking off the reporting and analytics feature. Meanwhile, Person B is constantly providing positive reinforcement to the sales rep and reassuring them that all the features could prove to be incredibly beneficial in the future.
Separated, Person B will surely be easier to sell to than Person A. To persuade Person B, engaging content like case study webinars that talk about the product’s benefits and gains experienced from it would be sufficient.
For instance, Wealthsimple publishes a trove of blogs on how to buy stocks to target folks who have only recently started to learn about investing.
On the other hand, person A would entail a lot more concerted effort from the sales team; for instance, sharing testimonials from other clients would prove to be more persuasive than a simple landing page about the product features.
If you have been in many situations like these, it would be useful to record mannerisms, quotes, and, most importantly, buzzwords dropped by clients to build a more realistic seeming persona.
#2. Collect a List of Customers
To ensure you have an accurate representation at hand, don’t solely talk to true brand loyalists. They will only provide a one-sided perspective on how customers are experiencing your products.
People who have had a negative experience will reveal patterns that might help you address gaps in customer service or needs. Maybe they need round-the-clock support because of a distributed team structure that works across the globe.
Existing customers don’t usually need incentives to participate in a feedback process. They’ll be more than happy to share their thoughts about something that will eventually help them in the long run.
Tap into a lesser-known group by exploring who your prospects are.
Have you been collecting emails for an e-blast? Or in exchange for an ebook? Marketing collaterals like these allow you to know more about your prospects.
While this data might not have as much anecdotal material, information gathered from the website, email, and CRM analytics should be enough to create a rough sketch of your prospects.
You can also rely on your own personal and professional network to find out people who might be a good fit for your products and services, especially when expanding into new markets or exploring untapped segments.
Leverage your network – social media communities like Facebook groups, Instagram pages, coworkers, and LinkedIn contacts – to find people who’d be interested in being interviewed. Since you already hold their trust, they are more likely to be open and honest during the interview process.
You can hire a market research company to do the legwork for you if your objective is to reach people utterly different from your immediate network.
Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram allow you to post ‘looking for survey candidates’ ads that fit a basic criterion for anonymous companies. Mozilla runs a program that invites people to provide test products and provide voice samples to improve its voice-search algorithm.
#3. Interview Your Customers
Many countries have strong regulations around whom you can contact regarding survey calls and emails so rolling out incentives to boost your completion rate is an effective way to recruit interviewees.
And as I mentioned before, existing customers might not need an incentive, but a simple gift card should be sufficient if they do.
Make it clear that you are reaching out as part of a market research effort. You are not asking them to commit to anything. Instead, they might receive a freebie in exchange for a few minutes of their time.
Here are a few sample questions to open the conversation:
- Role: What is your job role? Whom do you report to? What skills are required in your job?
- Company: What industry does your company fit best in?
- Goal: What are your responsibilities? What are your main KPIs and overall business objectives?
- Personal background: What is your income range? What is your highest level of education? What did you study?
- Habits: How often do you use social media?
- Shopping preferences: Do you prefer to shop online or in-store? How do you like to be contacted? Do you look up brand reviews before purchasing?
Each of the above interview questions should be followed up with a “why?” to understand their motivations behind an answer better. Why do they prefer to shop online over in-store? Why do they look up brand reviews before purchasing? Why do they live where they live?
You won’t get a perfect answer because people don’t reflect on their shopping behavior as much as marketers would like them to.
Tip: Consider conducting video interviews to widen your geographic reach and, as a result, achieve greater accuracy in crafting the persona.
#4. Analyze the Responses
After a series of interviews, survey calls, and streams of emails, you must be left with a mountain of data. It’s time to summarize and critically analyze responses by organizing them into spreadsheets!
- Raw Data: If you didn’t have a note-taker during the interview, the chances are that your notes from each interview are quite rough. You can summarize all the responses to each question in separate spreadsheets to identify trends and discover patterns. Simply apply filters to columns and formulas against each answer to determine sample mean, variance, population mean, etc.
- Segmentation: Using statistical analysis add-ons and other tools, you can begin segmenting answers based on various statistical metrics. For instance, break down data into quartiles to determine the top 25% of your dataset’s incomes and then pose a question like this – what is the percentage of people who shop online and have an income higher than $100K?
Taking this approach will help you refine your buyer person by matching behavioral attributes to demographic data.
#5. Craft a Buyer Persona
Once you have a sound understanding of who your target segment is, the final and critical step is to create a buyer persona(s).
Pick a target segment and brainstorm with your time about how you would like to visualize and socialize this segment.
Like a LinkedIn bio, creating a buyer persona involves illustrating attributes such as a personal summary, job, motivations, life stage, benefits sought, purchase triggers, discovery behaviors, and expectations from the product.
To bring this persona to life, put together a presentation deck and information on how these personas fit into the organization’s marketing objectives, what they should be used for, your research methodology, what data points were analyzed, and present it to stakeholders.
Crafting your buyer personas may seem like a mammoth effort. But by doing so, you can boost customer retention, explore new markets, identify fresh content pillars, and enhance customer service standards for your existing base.
So what are you waiting for? Get cracking on that buyer persona!