In our previous blog post, 'Why you need to create buyer personas before starting SEO,' we outlined the value of buyer personas as a vital starting point for your SEO process. In this article, we'll show you how to create in-depth customer or buyer personas.
Start with 20%
It is useful to begin with a thought exercise. Start by trimming 80% of your current customers. This leaves you with your top 20% at the top of your mind. This could be customers that bring you the most in sales, or maybe the ones you enjoy working with the most. These should be your dream or ideal customers, and these are the ones you should create personas for.
Next, you should undertake some customer research. This can either be done with quantitative research like surveys, or qualitative research like one-to-one conversations or focus groups. The former is great for collecting data, while the latter is perfect for getting more detailed, spontaneous responses. For more information, check out our guide on how to run effective customer focus groups.
Customer research helps you to flesh out more information about your customer personas. It also makes sure that any customer personas are based on real people, your current or target audience, rather than just your hypotheses.
You should collect your customer responses in an empathy map (shown below). This tool can also be helpful when determining which questions to ask during customer research and will help you to complete your personas.
Creating Your First Persona
When you've completed your consumer research, you'll be ready to create your first persona. You should ask as many questions as you would need to fully understand your persona. As a guide, here are the steps we take to create our personas at Cambray.
1. Give them a memorable name
It's useful to start by giving your persona a memorable name. This acts as a memory device and helps you to easily recall your persona in future.
Some persona names we have used are:
- Barry B2B
- Ernie Ecommerce
- Marketing Manager Mandy
At this stage, you should write a brief description of your persona. This will give you a starting point and help you to delve deeper during the persona process. Now you are ready to fill in the blanks.
- Employment status
- Geographical location
- Family life
- Career history and progression
- Personal and family history
3. Job Role
- What is their specific job role?
- Who reports to them?
- Who do they report to?
- What tools do they need to do their job?
- Does your product play a role in their professional life?
4. Personal Life
- What hobbies do they have?
- What do they do when not at work?
- Do they need any tools or products for their hobbies?
- How do they de-stress?
- What function does their hobby play? (e.g. relaxing, entertaining...)
- Does your product play a role in their personal life?
5. Behaviours and Values
- What are their core values, both in and outside of work?
- What do they value the most when making a purchase?
- What are their attitudes towards paying for a service?
- What is their demeanour?
- What are they interested in?
- What personal and professional challenges are they facing?
- What's keeping them awake at night?
- What do they fear?
- What are they trying to achieve, professionally and personally?
- What are their goals and ambitions?
9. Quotes and Thoughts
- What do you typically hear them saying?
- Is there anything they might be thinking that they wouldn't say out-loud?
- Are there any famous quotes they identify with?
- What is their outlook on life?
- How do they see themselves and others?
- What is their outlook on your industry?
- What is their outlook when it comes to buying products in your industry?
11. Where do you come in?
- Describe your product or service in relation to this persona's values, needs, behaviours, goals, problems, etc.
- How can you help to solve their problems?
- How can you help them to achieve their goals?
- How do you fit into their personal or professional lives?
- What value can you add to them?
12. Common Objections
- What objections might they have to you and your product?
- What worries would they have about your product?
- How would you overcome these objections or reassure them?
- What would they need to hear from you to be convinced?
13. Other Brands
- What types of brands or companies do they identify with?
- What characteristics or values do they look for in a brand?
- Which competitors in your space are they likely to purchase from?
- What is their favourite brand and why?
- What marketing messages would resonate with them?
- What do they need to hear from brands?
- Where are they engaging with marketing messages? (e.g. blogs, online, TV ads...)
15. Buyer's Journey
- What does a typical buyer's journey look like for this persona?
- Do they self-educate before making a purchase?
- Do they read reviews?
- Will they buy online or in-store?
- Do they engage with salespeople?
- How long will it take them to decide if they want to purchase?
- What information will they need at every stage of their buyer's journey?
- Once they've purchased, are they likely to re-purchase?
- What would increase the likelihood that they would re-purchase from you?
Tailored elevator pitch
Now that you've completed your persona, you should come up with a top-level short 'elevator pitch.' This is a short sales pitch tailored towards all the information you've gathered.
You should categorise this into:
- Why your product exists, (the problem it solves or the solution it achieves)
- What the product is
- Your unique selling point (USP)
- For whom you sell the product
- The 'why' of the persona - their motivations, why they would be interested in this product, what problem it solves, or what it helps them achieve.
Here is an example of a tailored elevator pitch:
To recap, your customer persona should profile everything you know about your ideal customers. These could be the customers that bring the most revenue, or the ones you enjoy working with the most.
Customer personas help you to better understand your customers, and how to sell to them, by collecting information such as:
- Their demographics
- Information about their lives, interests, jobs and hobbies
- Their needs, goals and opportunities
- Their problems, pain points, frustrations and fears
- Their buyer's journey
- Their interactions with brands and marketing
- How your company can position itself in light of all of the information gathered
But you should also bear in mind that personas are working documents. Your target market can change with industry shifts and trends. So, be sure to regularly revisit and update your personas.
Coming soon: Free buyer persona template with our Cambray 2019 Complete SEO Checklist Pack