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How to Create a Living Breathing Buyer Persona

Updated: Aug 31, 2023

Ever find yourself entangled in the process of making a significant purchasing decision for your organization? It's a journey marked by layers of research, investigating reviews, and evaluating endorsements, leading to a considerable investment of your time to reach the final verdict. The vendor's messaging, content, and understanding are pivotal in swaying your buying decision.


Close-up of a human with blue eyes who is a subject of a buyer persona

Suppose you apply that process to a robust marketing strategy. In that case, you can uncover how to connect with potential buyers, build trust and transparency, garner customer faith, and eventually secure the business.


A study by MECLABS, a globally recognized market testing firm, revealed that 75% of customers perceive companies as dishonest. As a result, this sentiment leads 63% of marketers to question the effectiveness of traditional branding methods. Which brings us to a question - how do we proceed with an effective marketing plan? What do potential clients TRULY desire?


The term "marketing" often invokes negative sentiments among individuals who feel manipulated and not given the complete picture. They feel targeted rather than valued, and the magnified claims of superiority often seem fraudulent, placing your offer in the hype disposal rather than leading to a sale.


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"Traditional marketing" is characterized by an outbound strategy encompassing cold calling, cold emailing, and sometimes disruptive methods. To mitigate this, we should transition to the "Inbound Marketing Methodology," as depicted in the infographic below.

Image of the stages of a buyer persona

*Sourced from the BuyerPersonaInstitute.com


There is no replacement for clarity.


I recommend you inform - don't sell. Focus on your language and conversation style when marketing a new product or service. Keep it casual and relatable. Adopting an overly formal tone may lead to a disconnect between your promotion and the audience. (This isn't an academic thesis.)


As the Sponsorship Chair on the Microsoft Dynamics Directions Board, I've evaluated numerous sponsor messages for blind emails, kiosks, and more. Many messages highlight sponsors' product features instead of addressing the customer's problem that their product could solve.


Our responsibility is to generate content that captivates attention without chest-thumping. We achieve this by consistently creating valuable content and experiences tailored to the audience.


Effective Methods to Propel Your Marketing


Create a Buyer Persona:

I am a fan of constructing buyer personas for lead generation to attract potential customers. To simplify, consider these three areas. Each provides valuable insights for marketers, although one is particularly insightful.


1. Consult Internal Resources

This approach includes collaborating with sales, product/marketing, and customer support teams. While this strategy provides quick and easy access to existing data, it may not yield fresh insights. Nonetheless, it's still worth considering.


2. Leverage Existing Knowledge

You can source this knowledge from multiple channels like online surveys, social media, web searches, analyst reports, and web analytics. It provides a cost-effective means to verify existing beliefs and collect additional statistical data. However, it fails to capture or reflect offline buying behavior and only focuses on historical online behavior.


3. Buyer Interviews

The most effective method I've discovered is conducting buyer interviews. Who should you interview? The best candidates are those who have recently chosen to purchase your solution, those who decided against purchasing, or those who purchased from competitors.


These buyers have freshly experienced the buying process, so they can accurately articulate how they evaluated your solution alongside other options. They provide in-depth insights into their positive and negative perceptions of your offer and your competition.


The ultimate goal is to understand the buyers' needs. Recognizing their concerns and how your product or service can address them is valuable information for adjusting your future communications. Plus, they can explain each stage of the buying process and the resources they used to make a purchase decision.


Buyer Insights


Buyer Insights for a Buyer Persona

*Sourced from the BuyerPersonaInstitute.com


A competent salesperson naturally uncovers this information while working a lead. It is now up to marketing to use this information to generate content that appeals to potential clients.


Actionable Insights


Actionable Insights for a Buyer Persona

*Sourced from the BuyerPersonaInstitute.com


Questions to Frame a Buyer Persona

  • Who do they seek for advice or information?

  • What benefits do they foresee from their decision?

  • Who do they need to convince to implement the change?

  • What could potentially sideline the need for this change?

  • What matters to them, and what's motivating this change?

  • What's impeding or facilitating their need to change?

  • How do they handle change?

  • What information do they need to accept the change?

With these answers, you can craft a buyer persona profile that lays out the buyer's journey to allow you to create and match content through various and appropriate distribution channels. Once you distribute the content, data analysis kicks in, and you can analyze the results and adjust and repeat as necessary. It's best to keep it brief and educational (vs. promotional) at this stage.


Breathing Life into the Buyer Persona


A Buyer Persona is only as good as the hands that wield them. Picture this: you've spent hours finding catchy photos and creating imaginative names, yet they gather dust because your team doesn't use them. So, the endgame? Craft a persona that isn't just a pretty decoration but a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal.


First, consider your current clientele as your treasure trove. Dive into their data, not just skimming over the surface (demographics, job titles, industries, and so on), but going on a deep dive. If you've shared coffee or conversations with them, jot down personal nuggets that align with your product or service. Perhaps she's the spirited leader of a 20-strong sales team, he's the dedicated dad working from home for his kids, or she's the lifelong learner dreaming of a master's degree. If these stories elude you, tap into your in-house detectives - your sales or customer service teams - to uncover the secrets.


Unleash your inner Sherlock by conducting market research by engaging in dialogues with customers, potential leads, referrals, and third-party networks. Sure, begin with the standard queries - their job titles, roles, and industries. But then, dig deeper. Unearth the everyday challenges they grapple with, the methods they employ to keep their skills sharp, or their dreams for their career.


With all these clues in hand, it's time to play detective. Sift through these facts, stats, and anecdotes, looking for common threads weaving through the stories. As these patterns come to light, bundle them into cohesive groups. These clusters will be the blueprint for your first buyer persona - a living, breathing character like "Accountant Ally," complete with demographic details and career notes.


And voila! You've successfully morphed abstract data into engaging personas. You're now ready to converse with, connect to, and understand the needs, interests, and problems of actual people behind the numbers.


Happy persona crafting!


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About the author:


Diane Saeger is the CEO of Marketeery, a full-service marketing agency that uses marketing science to convert prospects to customers for high-tech companies. She leads a professional team that can deliver marketing strategies and content that persuade and convert visitors to customers with compelling words, designs, and SEO.

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