A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of one of your ideal clients based on actual research and some educated speculation. The “actual” part of the research is one of the things that gets people tripped up.

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Why? Because often, the co-founder, the CEO, the president of the company, or the owner of the business believes that they've been doing what they do for so long that they don't need to ask real people. They think they can pull it out of thin air, or they can pull it out of their brain. And while input from the owner, the co-founder, or the CEO is part of doing your “actual” research, it's important not to be blind-sided. If your buyer persona is not CEOs or owners of companies, that data could be an interesting opinion but irrelevant.

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Gathering Buyer Persona Data

So we need to get as close as possible to “actual” real people that fit that buyer persona that you're going after. The ideal way to do that is through face-to-face conversations.

The next best thing to do if you can't do a face-to-face conversation is video conferencing.

If you can't do it in person and video conference isn't possible, a phone conversation would be the third choice.

If you're trying to get to a much larger group of people to take their input into account for your buyer personas and one-on-one in-person interviews don’t make sense, or one-on-one in-person video conferences or phone conferences don’t make sense, surveys can also be pretty helpful. Simply looking at externally available data that doesn't get intrusive -- the person doesn’t even know that you're studying them -- can be helpful.

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The intelligence in your marketing automation software or analytics package can be helpful if you can identify information on a per-user basis. Google Analytics doesn't provide that capability, but there are many third-party platforms that do.

You can also study what that person says on social media by looking at their LinkedIn profile, Twitter profile, and Facebook profile.  Read what they say when they're interviewed in trade publications or other media. Watch what they say when you see clips of them speaking at conferences on YouTube.

There are a lot of ways to be able to glean this information. At the end of the day, we need to be able to find the commonality among the group of people that we’ve looked at to determine if you have a real buyer persona and not just wishful thinking. We're looking for those commonalities; we're looking for the trends, and it's not just demographics.

People that are just getting started with buyer personas often take shortcuts -- they do just enough for what could fit on a Post-It note or a cocktail napkin.

That’s not nearly detailed enough if you have a lot of revenue growth plans riding on that. We need to know the demographics:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Highest level of education
  • The region they live in
  • Married or single
  • How many children and what ages

This data makes up about 20-25% of the buyer persona.

Even more importantly, we look at

  • What are the buyer personas goals
  • What are their plans
  • What keeps  them up at 2 in the morning
  • Where do they like to hang out online
  • What blogs do they read
  • What podcasts do they listen to
  • What newsletters do they subscribe to
  • What LinkedIn groups do they belong to
  • What do they do offline
  • What channel programs are they part of
  • What associations do they belong to
  • What conferences do they attend

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The tighter we can cluster around the consensus, the easier it is for us to develop a content strategy that resonates with that person. When you do your buyer persona well,  the result will be a very detailed buyer persona, typically one to four pages.

From that, you should be able to use a yellow highlighter marker to lift bullet points right out of the buyer persona for landing pages and premium content that you will create for that kind of person.

In other words, if you have a strong consensus around their biggest challenge, that's the headline of your ebook, your webinar, or your event -- or the leading copy on your email or your content. The secondary themes are your bullet points and your copy. When you put that in front of somebody who matches your buyer persona, your conversion rates will go through the roof because you're talking about exactly what matters most to them. Their reaction should be, “wow, how did they know?”

Buyer personas are an extremely important part of your marketing strategy. They are an extremely important part of your sales strategy. If your sales team struggles and wastes a lot of time talking to unqualified prospects, get buyer personas in front of them, so they know what a good fit client looks like.

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If you have anyone with a product management, product engineering, or product marketing role within your company -- or someone wearing that hat -- this is also extremely important.

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of an ideal client or stakeholder that you're looking to reach based on “actual” research and some educated speculation.

It is the key to relevance. It is the key to remarkable content. It is the key to scaling in the right direction with everything you do going forward.

How do you create buyer personas for your business? Share your thoughts in the section for comments below.  

To learn more about buyer personas, enroll now in our free 7-day eCourse: Go-to-Market Strategy 101 for B2B SaaS Startups and Scaleups.

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