Step-By-Step Guide to Defining Your Buyer Persona

Step-By-Step Guide to Defining Your Buyer Persona

Buyer personas are a major component of any effective inbound marketing strategy. The truth is, you have to know who you’re marketing and selling to before you can make a sale. Today’s consumers only pay attention to marketing messages that are personalized, and highly relevant to their unique experiences. Buyer personas are a key way to address that consumer need, while streamlining your marketing and sales process so you’re only spending time on the leads most likely to convert. 

 

We can say the word “buyer persona” as many times as we want, but they’re not going to do much for you if you don’t know how to create or define one. That’s why we’ve put together this Step-by-Step Guide to Defining your Buyer Persona. Here, you’ll learn what exactly a buyer persona is, and how to define your own buyer personas in a clear, manageable (we hope) step-by-step way. Let’s get started.

Just looking for some hot tips? Use this menu to skip to the step you’re most interested in. 

What is a Buyer Persona?

Creating Your Buyer Personas in 5 Steps

What Is A Buyer Persona?

The first part of any great guide to defining your buyer persona should be a definition of what a buyer persona actually is. Buyer personas are an integral part of any quality marketing or sales plan. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal client or target audience. With a clear picture of who you’re marketing to, it’s much easier to develop effective, targeted content that speaks to your ideal buyer’s goals and challenges. 

 

Think of your buyer personas as a personal narrative. You’re developing a story for and context around the people who are most interested in your product or service. You want to know as much about them as possible, so you can provide personalized service, relevant content, and helpful sales information. Your buyer personas are the best place to organize all of that information into a story that will resonate with you, and with the rest of your team. 

Creating Your Buyer Personas in 5 Steps

Defining your buyer personas might seem like a big, unwieldy task. But, if we break the process down into manageable steps, you can move through them one-by-one to develop thorough, thoughtful buyer personas that will genuinely improve the way you market and sell. And don’t feel like you have to create all of your buyer personas at once — taking it step-by-step is a great way to make sure you’ve got all of your bases covered, without feeling too overwhelmed. This guide to defining your buyer persona is set up so you can leave and come back whenever is most convenient for you. With that in mind, let’s get into Step 1.

Step 1: Research Your Buyer Personas

All great personas start with a  little bit of research. Even if you feel like you already have a pretty good grasp on who most of your clients are, it’s worth it to take a hard look, not just at who you’re already working with, but who you’d like to work with in the future. 

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Who is Buying From You?

It’s always easiest to start with what you know. Begin your research by taking a look at your existing clients. Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • Who at their company contacted you first?
  • Were they the final decision maker?
  • What does their job look like?
    • Are they your company’s primary point of contact?
    • What are their roles at work?
    • Do they manage people or processes?
    • Do they have to answer to a boss or supervisor, or do they make most decisions?
  • What does their home life look like?
    • Do they have any hobbies?
    • How old are they?
    • Are they married or single? Kids or no kids?

These questions will get you started, but there are a few other tactics you might consider when doing buyer persona research:

Talk to Customer-Facing Employees

Your account managers are going to have the best insight into the lives of your clients, since they’re the ones in direct contact with them. Talk to the customer-facing employees at your own company to get a better sense of the people your company is already working with.

Talk to Your Clients

If it’s feasible, it’s also a great idea to talk to some of your existing clients. Consider sending out a short survey to your main points of contact, asking them a little about themselves. You might have to send along a small incentive to get them to fill it out, but their answers will be worth their weight in gold. After all, the people who have already invested in your product or service are your ideal audience. 

Who Would You Like to Buy From You?

Once you’ve pulled together as much information as possible on your existing clients, think about who you’d like to sell to in the future. 

 

Is there an ideal prospect that your marketing and sales team just can’t get to convert? Maybe your competition has had a lot of success in a certain segment of the market that you’d like to break into, too. 

 

To narrow down who you’d like to buy from you, we suggest starting by taking a look at your competition. 

Where is Your Competition Seeing Success?

Are your competitors seeing a lot of success in a certain segment of the market you’d like to break into? Check out their website! 

 

They’re probably developing content and sales offers that speak directly to that market. You can learn a lot about those ideal buyer personas you’re not quite hitting yet by seeing how your competition is successful.

Where Do You Want Your Company to Grow?

Another great way to identify buyer personas for clients you haven’t quite snagged yet is to think hard about where you want your company to grow. 

 

For example, we often work with home builders, many of whom are working to break into higher markets. Even if they don’t yet have clients in that higher market, we still work to do as much research on those buyers as possible. We look at our clients’ competition to see what they’re doing to draw that market in, and we look at those buyers specifically to see what they’re most interested in, and what their greatest pain points are. 

 

You can do the same thing for your company. Look at the clients you’d like to get in the future, and do the same research to see what they’re interested in, what their lives are like, and what challenges they face that your company can solve. 

Check Out Your Own Analytics

Our third and final suggestion for the research phase of defining your buyer personas is to look at your analytics. You’ll find no better, more concrete data on your ideal buyers than through the analytics on your own website, social media ads, and pay-per-click advertising campaigns. 

 

Take a look at the reports from each, and pay specific attention to the demographics of the people clicking your ads. When you’re looking at your website analytics, see what pages your visitors view the most, and the longest. 

 

Are there content offers that are downloaded more often than others? Who is downloading those offers? Answers to all of these questions provide you with useful information and data you need to compile relevant, effective buyer personas. 

Step 2: Segment Your Buyer Personas

I’ll be honest, the research step is the most time-consuming. Once you have that out of the way, feel free to step back and take a break. Leave that research alone, and let it marinate for a while. When you come back, you’ll have everything you need to actually start writing your buyer personas.

Organize Your Information

Alright, now that you’re back refreshed and ready to continue work on those buyer personas, it’s time to organize all of the research you collected. You probably learned a lot about a variety of your clients. Start looking for similarities in the goals and challenges you’ve uncovered in your research. These similarities — in what clients and prospects are looking for from your company or your product — will help you group all of the many potential clients into distinct sets of buyer personas. 

Decide How Many Buyer Personas You’ll Have

Now that you’ve reviewed and organized your research, you can start to determine how many buyer personas you’ll actually define. It’s good to remember that you don’t have to cover everyone right now. 

 

If you’re just starting the inbound marketing process and are new to buyer personas as a whole, it might make the most sense to create buyer personas just for the market segments you sell to the most. You can always add or change buyer personas as you learn more about your marketing strategy, and as you gather more data on your leads and prospects. 

 

The way you segment your buyer personas is totally up to you and to your company. You know best who you’re in contact with most. But, if you’re not quite sure where to start, here are two very common ways to segment your buyer personas:

Segment Buyer Personas By Industry

Some companies work with clients in a variety of industries. In a situation where you sell a variety of products, each corresponding to a different industry, it might make sense to dedicate one buyer persona to each industry you serve. It’s good to remember that this is only worthwhile if clients in each industry have different goals or pain points. For example, let’s say you manufacture a product that’s useful for both the automotive and marine manufacturing industries. 

 

If your clients in the marine industry have different goals than the clients in the automotive industry, it makes sense to have two buyer personas. 

 

But, if your product helps both marine and automotive manufacturers in the same way — by helping them streamline processes, manufacture more efficiently, and develop a better product, then it probably won’t make as much sense to segment your buyer personas by industry. In that case, let’s look at the second way we often see clients segmenting their buyer personas.

Buyer Personas By Job Title

For many companies, their sales process remains the same regardless of the industry they’re working with. Here at Evenbound, we work primarily with manufacturers, home builders, and construction professionals. Even though clients in each of those industries are fundamentally different, they approach finding a marketing partner in the same way. So, we’ve segmented our buyer personas to align with the job titles our sales process touches

 

This often works similarly for manufacturers. Let’s say you manufacture a product that is useful in a variety of industries, but that is most often used by a lead engineer at any company, regardless of industry. In this situation, it doesn’t make sense to have a buyer persona for each engineer in each industry, because they have the same goals and pain points. Instead, you can write one buyer persona, and then use that buyer persona as a guide when you write content that’s specific to each industry later on. 

Step 3: Create a Name and a Story

You’ve completed your research, and you’ve decided which buyer personas to start with. Pick one, and let’s get writing. Everyone writes differently, so do what works for you. I always find it’s easiest to paint a full picture of your buyer persona and then pull out the most important segments for the final persona you share with the rest of your team. Here’s what that process might look like:

Who Is Your Buyer Persona?

Start by giving your buyer persona a name. The point of defining buyer personas at all is to help you market and sell more personally. Giving your buyer personas names makes it personal. Once you’ve got a name in mind, start writing down everything you discovered in your research. 

  • How old is your persona?
  • What job titles might they hold? 
  • Where do they live?
  • What hobbies do they have, and what do they like to do outside of work?
  • What are their career goals? Are they looking to move up, or just hoping to cruise through to retirement?

Answers to all of these questions, and any more that you can think of, help provide context for your buyer persona’s goals and motivations. The better you understand what they want, and why they want it, the better you’ll be able to interact with them in the future. 

Give Yourself a Full Profile to Work With

When it comes to buyer personas, more information is always better. Challenge yourself to a free-write. Set a timer for 15-20 minutes, and write down everything you know about this buyer persona. And don’t be afraid to get a little creative! 

People connect with stories — the more real your buyer personas feel to your sales and marketing teams, the better they'll be able to tailor their efforts to support your clients in real-life. Click To Tweet

So, get to writing, and see what you can do to make it fun. You can always take content out, but it’s good to let yourself get creative, and paint a full picture of this buyer persona. The more content you have at this step, the easier the next step will be. 

Step 4: Focus on Roles, Goals, and Challenges

Take a break for a second. You’ve just written a full, creative narrative about one of your company’s ideal buyers. Pat yourself on the back and grab a coffee — you’ve earned it. 

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Back from that coffee break? Awesome. We’re going to take a close look at the narrative you’ve just created, and pull out the most relevant parts for your sales and marketing teams going forwards. That info falls into three categories: roles, goals, and challenges. 

Roles

You have a full written picture of who your buyer persona is, what they do, and what they want. Take a look at that narrative, and pull out the information that’s related to their “roles”. This is going to be content that’s relevant to their job title and their role at work, certainly, but it can also speak to their role at home our outside of work. 

 

Are they regular volunteers? A parent? Do they manage people at work? All of this information gives you context about what they’re really great at. 


What’s more, it tells your marketing and sales teams what they do. When you know what a person does, and what roles they play in their life, you can create content that speaks to those specific roles. 

Goals

Understanding what your buyer personas want is the key to offering them the marketing content and sales service that will genuinely help them.

Maybe your buyer persona is looking for ways to improve their business’s profitability. Maybe they have a goal to move up in the company and are looking to spearhead initiatives that exemplify their leadership qualities. Conversely, maybe your buyer persona is nearing retirement and wants to do their job well without making any waves until they can retire safely.

 

Pull out all of the goals you identified in your buyer persona free-write, and organize them into a goals section. Understanding a buyer persona’s goals is key to offering them personalized, helpful service.

 

When your team understands what a persona is trying to achieve, even if it’s not directly related to what your company offers, they’ll be able to better tailor their methods and strategies in a way that resonates with that persona. 

Challenges

The challenges section of a buyer persona is the most important. This is where you identify the pain points of each buyer persona. And when you understand your buyer’s pain points, you can work to solve them. 


Take a look at that long narrative you wrote for your buyer persona. What is keeping them from reaching their goals? What parts of their job are difficult? Do they have trouble selling initiatives up to their boss? Are they worried about making big investments? Are they so busy that they don’t have a chance to even consider how their business could improve?

 

Whatever their challenges, this is the place to call them out. 

 

Take the time to get specific, too. The more challenges you can identify for each persona, the more opportunities you have to deliver solutions. And the more solutions you deliver, the more attractive and helpful your company is to those qualified leads. 

Step 5: Use Your Buyer Personas to Craft Tailored Sales and Marketing Strategies

When you know who your buyer personas are, and are familiar with their roles, goals, and challenges, you can develop sales and marketing strategies tailored to just those people who you know are excellent fits for your company. 

You’ve gone to all the trouble to make these buyer personas, now is the time to use them!

  • Help familiarize your sales and marketing teams with each persona
  • Create ad campaigns that correspond to each persona’s favorite platform
  • Develop content that speaks to the specific pain points and challenges identified in your buyer personas. 
  • Take stock of your existing content — does it speak to one or more of your personas? If not, make some changes. 
  • Optimize your landing pages to speak to buyer personas, and in their language. 

Buyer personas help give you inside knowledge into the ways your most qualified prospects function. From their favorite social media platforms to the way they talk to their career goals, you know a lot about these personas, and you can use that information to your benefit, and to theirs. 

Work to create content that those personas want to read, and develop sales and marketing strategies that put your buyer personas’ goals and challenges at front and center. 

When you’re writing, marketing, and selling with real people — your most qualified leads — in mind, you’re going to start to see some serious growth.

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B2B Buyer Personas: Everything You Need to Know

B2B Buyer Personas: Everything You Need to Know

If you’ve been looking into inbound marketing, you may have heard the term “buyer persona” bandied about. Buyer personas are critical for inbound and digital strategy, because they define your audience, allowing you to create content and deploy marketing techniques that will reach your ideal buyers, convert them to clients, and provide an exceptional ROI on your marketing efforts.

Buyer persona definition

A buyer persona is a fictionalized version of your ideal client types. The persona defines what these clients are like: demographic information like age and gender, job title, job responsibilities, purchasing power, and more. Creating a persona allows you to visualize and understand your audience better, which allows you to hone your content and marketing efforts to be highly effective.

How to create buyer personas

You probably have a good idea already of what your typical client is like. If you create plastic injection moldings of automotive components, you know that your ideal client is a sourcing specialist or product engineer for an automotive OEM, and that this client is usually male, in his late twenties to early forties, and is under extreme time pressure to source components. From your work experience, you probably have this same background information on your other client types (e.g. a Tier II supplier who makes automotive assemblies) as well.

Use the information you have, but don’t just rely on your assumptions. One effective method for understanding your ideal buyer is to interview your best clients. Find out about their job responsibilities, the challenges they face in their work, and how your company can help them and meet their needs. This information can help you

 

Simple example persona:

Buyer Persona:OEM Oliver
Job title:Sourcing Specialist/Product Engineer
Age:Late 20s–early 40s
Gender:Male
Roles/job responsibilities:Sourcing components for vehicles
Challenges:Working under extreme time pressure

Needs quick turnarounds, on-time delivery, products that can meet OEM specs

Needs suppliers with capability to produce high volume of moldings

Goals:To source quality components quickly, at the best possible price, from a reliable supplier

 

Your buyer personas can be as simple (like the example above) or as detailed as you like, and as works for your application. Once you’ve written buyer personas for your major client types (probably two or three different personas) you’ll better understand your buyers and your audience, and better be able to market to them.

Creating content for your buyer personas

The way that you take advantage of the personas that you’ve created is through creating targeted content that addresses those specific personas. You’ll need to create content—blog posts, infographics, social posts, ebooks, white papers, videos, etc.—specifically geared toward the goals and challenges of your buyer persona. Returning to our previous example, if you are creating content for OEM Oliver, you might write a blog post about how to select a plastic injection molding supplier, create an infographic about the plastic injection molding process from design to receipt by the customer, or publish an ebook about maximizing your plastic molding’s design to reduce structural and cosmetic imperfections. These pieces of content address the needs of OEM Oliver, which include finding suppliers (blog on selecting injection molders), quick turnaround times (process timeline infographic), and high-quality, spec-meeting components (ebook on minimizing defects). This content is useful and interesting to OEM Oliver, which may prompt him to read it, convert from a site visitor to a lead by providing contact information, or reach out for more information or even a quote.

Buyer personas are a useful and under-utilized tool for understanding the prospective customers you want to target with your marketing efforts. By researching and creating buyer personas and then creating content that addresses the needs of those personas, you can become visible to the type of person you want as a client and peak their interest about your company’s offerings.

If your B2B could use help in creating and implementing buyer personas and a digital inbound strategy, HADM can help. Give us a call, shoot us an email, or send us a message, we’d love to hear from you.

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Home Builders: Creating Content that Reaches your Ideal Buyer

Home Builders: Creating Content that Reaches your Ideal Buyer

When you’re working to market your home building company, you’re looking for the right kinds of clients. In general, most home builders are looking to break into a market at a higher price point, and that’s not always easy to do. There’s so much competition in the housing market these days, and it’s tough to compete with builders who’ve been serving that particular market for years. It comes down to establishing yourself as a quality builder in the market you’re looking to target, and getting the word out about your home building company to exactly the types of home buyers you’re looking for. So whether you’re looking to build in the $1 million price point or the $500,00, here’s how to make sure you’re creating content that targets the right people, and pulls in the right jobs to set your company apart in your desired market:

Set a Buyer Persona

To create content that reaches your ideal buyer, you first have to know who your ideal buyer is. This is perhaps the most important step when it comes to content creation for home builders. If you create content for the wrong buyer, you won’t get the jobs you want, and you may be forced to fill your schedule with projects that don’t really fit your company’s niche. So before you do anything, do some research.

What does your ideal buyer look like? Are they a young couple looking to start a family? Or maybe the buyer with the money to build one of your homes is an empty-nester who hasn’t yet retired. You may end up with more than one buyer persona, but we recommend you limit yourself to three, for now. This is because your buyer personas need to be thorough. You have to know what that buyer makes, what they do for a living, what they do in their free time, how many kids they have, and have a general sense of what they’re looking for when it comes to their new home.

It’s also important to figure out who the decision maker is. Even if you typically work with couples, it’s likely that one of them has a bigger say when it comes to who they want to hire to build their home. Once you’ve figured out who’s most likely to be searching for your business online, you can start to create content that directed towards them.

Creating Content that Works

After determining your target buyer persona, it’s time to actually create the content. Whether your website hosts a blog (which we highly recommend) or you’re just creating content for your social media or Houzz accounts, it’s important that you’re putting out content that has legitimate value for your target buyer. What sorts of questions are they likely to ask, and what information might help them get closer to choosing a home builder? You’re looking to create content that’s thorough and shareable. Thorough content answers people’s questions in a way that’s satisfying, and shareable content ensures that your name gets more and more visibility on the internet.

Remember that you can’t just create quality content whenever you feel like it. We know you’re busy, and content creation is something that’s likely to get pushed to the wayside. But when you’re only posting once every two or three months, it doesn’t give clients a lot of confidence in your communication abilities, and it will hurt you when it comes to search engines. Google likes websites that post regularly, and social media platforms prefer users who keep up their presence at least on a weekly basis. So if you’re going to create content that truly gets the attention of your target buyer, then make sure you’re putting it out on a regular basis.

Post that Content at the Right Time

In addition to ensuring that you create the right content, regularly, it’s a good idea to put some thought into when you post that content. There are definitely times when more people are on social media sites, like at lunch time and in the late afternoon when work hits a lull. But it’s important to determine when your target buyer is online. For this, you might have to do a bit of research, but just knowing your ideal buyer’s daily routine might help as well.

For example, if your target buyer is a high-powered businessman, you might be best served putting out content early in the morning, when he’s reading the news or going over emails, or late in the evening, when he’s finally getting home from work. Oppositely, if your ideal buyer is a stay-at-home mom, you’re probably going to get more engagement in the afternoon after she’s finished a lot of her daily errands, and the kids are still at school.

Put a bit of time into researching when your ideal buyers are online, and make sure you’re posting content when they’re sure to see it. With so many people online and on social media these days, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of everyone posting and sharing content. When you optimize the times that you post through research, you have a better chance of making your content visible, and pulling in some of those ideal buyers with your quality content.

Engage on Houzz and HomeAdvisor

Home service directories like Houzz, HomeAdvisor, and Angie’s List are the ideal place to interact with people who already want to learn from what you have to say. These directories are full of people gathering ideas for their new home or renovation, and it would be a shame to miss out on such an ideal audience. If you don’t already have an account, make one! Then you have an easy secondary platform to share your quality content with people who will genuinely want to read it.

What’s more, it’s easier to get your home building content shared on sites like these, where the users are all looking for information on home building tips and tricks. By increasing your engagement on home service directories, you’re likely to start building relationships with more and more users who fit your target buyer persona.  

Keep up on Social Media

We mentioned that posting regularly was a good way to make sure your content gets read, but keeping up on your social media is just a best practice for any home builder. If you regularly engage on your social media platforms, even if it’s simple things like sharing other relevant content, or posting a few before and after pictures, you’re more likely to get more followers, and keep them. The more followers you have, the wider reach your content will get. That means more people sharing your content, which means more eyes on your content from legitimate potential clients. It’s in  your best interest to keep up your social media engagement, even if you’re just sharing one thing a day, and posting new content once every other week.

By following these content creation best practices, you’ll be able to reach your ideal buyer and begin to draw in more qualified leads. Targeted content is a great way to help you break out of your current market, and start scheduling the jobs you really want. If you have more questions about targeting your ideal buyer or creating quality content, don’t hesitate to get in touch. HA Digital Marketing works with a number of home builders and home developers, and we’d be happy to help answer any questions you have about the powers of inbound marketing.

To see how we generated a massive number of sales leads for lakeshore custom home builder Bos Homes, check out the case study below:
case study: home builder sales leads