Buyer Personas: Understanding Your Audience

Buyer Personas: Understanding Your Audience

You’ve heard us say it before: know your audience. We’ve shown you how to crunch data, how to angle your social media, even how to think about your audience’s demographics. However, your customers are living, breathing people, with varied tastes and interests. How do you capture that and use it effectively? Enter the buyer persona, a method to think about who your target audience is on a personal level. We’ll look into their demographics, sure, but also their interests, goals, and buying patterns. 

An important starting point to a buyer persona is to focus on the commonalities—not each individual customer. That isn’t to say you can’t have multiple personas, but each one should represent a good swath of your customer base. Also, be sure to use real-world data, not just who you assume or think your customers are. Consider their spending power and patterns, what they like to do, and what problems they need to solve. Using Google analytics or social media data crunchers like Facebook Audience Insights is a great jumping-off point. 

More Than Basics

Now that you have a basic understanding of your audience’s demographics, dig even deeper. Ask yourself what problems they might have. What’s holding them back? Are there obstacles that can be removed for them? A good source of information here might be your customer service department, who might have insight based on the sorts of questions or comments they receive about your business. 

Not every customer is motivated solely by what they’re having trouble with; some are looking for tools to help them succeed or meet goals. Diving into what inspires or drives people allows you to capitalize on their sense of self-worth. While this thinking won’t always refine products and services, it is useful for targeting your marketing. 

Next, put yourself in your buyer persona’s shoes and take a look from their perspective. Stop thinking like a marketer—that is, don’t think about what your product does for your clients, but instead how the services you offer make their lives better. 

Bringing Your Audience to Life

Once all of this information has been gathered and refined, it’s time to put the whole picture together. Figure out the cross-section of all of the data and what type of person it describes. Do you have men in their early twenties who enjoy craft brews and soccer? Middle-aged women who do yoga in the park followed by coffee and a pedicure? Whatever your persona comes out to be, give it a name and a detailed personality description. For example:

Sally Sanderson

  • 48 years old
  • Married, with three kids, ages 22, 23, and 26
  • Works at a local quilting store
  • Volunteers weekly at the local food shelter
  • Doesn’t have a smartphone, but uses Facebook at home
  • Walks from work to yoga every day at lunch
  • Loves a good lavender mocha with low-fat whip 

Sally here isn’t a real person, but she exists to help you remember that your customers are people—not just data points. Now, when you sit down to discuss new products or marketing strategies, you’re talking about Sally and not just “empty-nesters with hobbies.”

What’s the Point?

Why go through all of this trouble? Why aren’t simple data points good enough? The focus of your persona(s) should be on humanizing your customers and what they need. A lot of times we get bogged down in our daily routine and we forget what our purpose is: providing products or services to people. Make a cardboard cutout of Sally and put her in the office, if you need to, to remember that. Maybe even ask Sally if she thinks your new ad campaign is a winner (but if she actually answers back maybe consider getting more sleep). 

This may seem like a lot of effort, but the payoff can be huge. Perhaps start with one or two personas—depending on the size of your company—and expand as you have time. Buyer personas bring your audience in focus and put them at the forefront of your business efforts, which means some legwork up front can streamline your future successes. 

Need help gathering and defining your data? We’re happy to help! Contact us here.

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