Creating Buyer Personas that Work for You
Why You Need a Buyer Personas Template
It’s difficult to create buyer personas if you don’t know where to start. That’s why having a buyer personas template is so important. Working off a template can help guide you in your research. It’s something that reminds you which questions need answering. Having a clearly defined goal is so important. That’s exactly why DemandZEN recently created The Buyer Personas Template You Need for you to use when creating personas.
But first, I want to talk about the step before you’re ready to hammer out those personas: the research. Conducting thorough research is absolutely vital to creating detailed buyer personas that will be valuable to your organization. Without great research, a great buyer personas template becomes pretty much obsolete.
Research can be one of the scariest tasks when starting any project. That’s why I want to walk you through the process and where to source the best information.
Interview your sales team, management, and talk to your customers. These are the individuals who will give you the best insights regarding your particular product. In this phase, there are a few things you’re going to want to nail down:
- List of target job titles – Include industry, experience, and responsibilities.
- Comprehensive list of pain points for the buyer – These pain points all need to be related to your product, not a generic list of complications that might affect these roles.
- What are they reading? – Even if the answer is just a rough idea, it will provide a good starting point for you. Get an idea of their interests, concerns, and hobbies so you can use that information to your advantage.
- A clear offer statement that includes unique benefits of your product – What advantages does your product or service have that appeal the most to the roles you’ve discussed? Get these down as it will help shape idea for content later on.
- Objections – This is where your sales team will help you out the most. Why don’t people pull the trigger on buying the product? Is it the price? The ease-of-use? Learning this will help you form counters to these objections you can weave through all of your content.
After you’ve spoken to all of the necessary parties and you’ve pinned down appropriate job titles you want to target, begin doing the research one persona at a time. Don’t just rely on one source. Look at multiple job sites for breakdowns of job descriptions to find the common factors.
LinkedIn is your best friend
When it comes to figuring out who your buyer is, just looking at a job description isn’t going to cut it. Check out LinkedIn to look at actual people who are in the positions and industries you’re targeting. This will tell you about their work history, interests, if they’re publishing papers, if they hold patents, where they’re located, etc. All of this information is valuable. LinkedIn can provide the best blueprint to who your customer really is.
Read what they’re reading
Now that you have an idea of what news sources your audience likes, read them for yourself. Get under the hood of why they find those publications interesting. Does it service their curiosity? Maybe they’re trying to stay up-to-date with the latest trends. Or it could satisfy a need to stay ahead of the competition. Click on what those publications are linking to, and really get inside of the industry you’re targeting. By doing this, you’ll understand a journey your buyer might take on a regular basis.
The other advantage of reading like your customer is the ability to find new opportunities to showcase your solution. Those blogs and community sites might be prime advertising real estate for your business. You also might find a great place online to actively engage with your customers on a personal level. Your backlinks strategy will thank you for this later on.
Matching Paint Points to Personas
The whole point in making personas is that you need to know how to market to different people. You already have a general list of pain points or challenges that your customers face. Now you have to match the pain point to the correct persona. Use what you know about the each role to answer the question of what he/she prioritizes.
Let’s say you choose to target a Chief Data Officer (CDO) and a Developer. While the CDO might be concerned with the tools used by her team and overall strategic planning, the developer is concerned with the specific project he’s working on. Their pain points are very different. The CDO needs to test and implement tools that will work for her developers as well as management. The developer is concerned with the efficiency of his project, his own work method, and ensuring what is required of him is implemented into the final product.
These users aren’t going to have the same interaction with your product, and they shouldn’t. The developer will have to see something that makes his day-to-day easier, and probably a great use case he can bring to his superiors. The CDO will need proof that a tool will positively impact business across multiple departments, since her concerns are increasing visibility for all involved parties on a project.
Understanding the unique difficulties your personas have in their working lives enables you to create content that answers the question “But how will this help me?” That’s the question we’re always thinking when evaluating new tools. And the answer to that is going to be different for each persona you create.
Don’t mislead yourself
You might come into building buyer personas with a lot of assumptions about your audience. While it’s great to have a starting point, don’t allow your own opinions to trump the research. If you do this, you’ll only be giving your assumptions structure as opposed to developing in-depth, useful buyer personas based on your actual audience.
Label all of your current notes about your customer as “assumptions.” You’re not doing research to confirm these assumptions, but to discover the truth. Don’t bend your findings to fit what you already think you know about your customers. The whole purpose of doing this is to discover new avenues to reach your customers and how to speak to them.
The research never ends
Your product or service will evolve over time. And that means your audience will evolve, too. Revisit your buyer personas regularly to ensure the information is still valid. You might notice motivations, challenges, or even the entire persona itself will be drastically different from when you started.
Don’t be afraid to get messy
Compiling all of the links to your research in one place can be a great way to keep all of your research in one place. You can link to the most important sources in your final document so that all of your team members have access to the same research that you did while creating it. It’s not going to look pretty, but that’s okay.
Research is supposed to be messy. And there’s really no right way to compile all of your findings. So do what works for you, even if it’s a document you might hide from the rest of your team.
There is never such a thing as too much information. Don’t say no to information that gets offered up in an interview. If it looks interesting, click on it. While the material might wind up being irrelevant, you don’t know that until you dig into it. Again, don’t make assumptions.
Don’t Let the Research Consume You
Avoid getting overwhelmed by your own research. Try to focus on one persona at a time as you settle on audience roles. This way, when you get a little messy it’s within the parameters you set for yourself.
If your head is spinning, take a break and come back to your work later with a fresh perspective. Don’t give yourself hard deadlines to meet if you don’t have to. And try to stress to any superiors that these things take time. In order to make these personas worthwhile, you will have to dedicate a good chunk of your workweek to them.
Now that you you know where to start. Start crafting your personas using DemandZEN’s Buyer Personas Template. But beware: too many personas is not a good thing. Take only what you need to survive.
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