Driving Demand For Your Business: How to Create and Use Buyer Personas

Brian Honigman ,


One of the biggest problems facing businesses today when they’re trying to drive sales for a new product or service is not having an audience interested in their offerings in the first place.

Most organizations recognize this mistake too late in the process or don’t know where to begin when it comes to identifying a potential customer base before they launch a product.

Many businesses think they’ve found the solution to a common problem facing many consumers, since they may have experienced the issue themselves, but in actuality there’s often little demand for most products or services that hit the market today.

Listening to consumers is the key to understanding what offerings people are interested in purchasing, regardless if they are aware of their needs or not.

Therefore, it’s important to develop buyer personas that address the various members that make up your customer base.

What is a buyer persona? A buyer persona is an example of a real person who buys, or might buy, products like the ones you market, based on what you’ve learned from gathering insights on consumers. It’s a profile crafted from their demographics, interests and preferences as a consumer.

How to Create a Buyer Persona

The first part of generating a customer base is planning how to reach them appropriately by understanding who they are. A buyer persona will help map out who your potential customer is and what interests them the most, helping to drive them to your business with inbound marketing. This will help focus your products, services and messaging to help market your offerings to meet the right customer’s needs.

A buyer persona is completely informed by consumer insights either generated through surveys, interviews, marketplace monitoring, focus groups and more; to help your organization identify the pulse of a demographic related to what your business is capable of producing.

Ask the individuals surveyed for their feedback on a specific industry concerning the problems they regularly face, products or services they currently use, what they’d like to see from products or services in the industry and more.

Be sure to pull data and insights in regards to an industry your organization is familiar with in order to better understand the type of customers you’re looking to reach and the unique nuances of a particular industry.

These insights can come in many forms, but primarily consumers can provide your business with what they actually want to see from your type of organization either directly or indirectly.

For example, direct consumer insights might be a majority of customers asking a shoe company to produce more shoes in bigger sizes with a larger variety of colors. This shoe company can take this information received from their customer base directly and apply it to their offerings for the future better catering to their buyer persona.

On the other hand, a famous example of indirect consumer insights is how Steve Jobs of Apple didn’t like to use the feedback from focus groups, but was very aware of common concerns of consumers when it came to how they used computers.

Many people found computers at the time to be confusing and cumbersome, which is one of the reasons Apple created the widely successful iPhone as a simple means of accessing the internet and taking advantage of other features only a computer once offered. Consumers never said they wanted an iPhone, but Jobs and Apple listened to their input about computers often being difficult to use and innovated from there by creating a widely successful product that was in need.

Once you’ve pulled together data on what consumers want either directly or indirectly in regards to a certain area of expertise. Begin pulling together the demographics that make your ideal buyer both from the data you’ve gathered and based on the use of your company’s offerings.

Define the gender, financial situation, education level, profession, age, interests, shopping habits and more for each buyer persona that makes up your particular audience or who your business would like to comprise your audience.

No audience is comprised of one type of buyer persona, which makes it necessary to segment them into different groups to best match your products, services and messaging to each buyer’s needs and interests.

Lay out these buyer personas and begin brainstorming as to the many ways your organization can attract these consumers with your offerings and messaging before developing them.

Ways to Use a Buyer Persona

The best way to use the buyer personas your team has developed is to match each buyer persona’s behaviors to each step of the marketing funnel. By having an accurate profile of your customer base, you’ll be able to make informed decisions as to what interactions a buyer is likely to have with your organization at each step of the funnel as you continue to focus on lead generation.

For example, your ideal buyer may interact with your content at the awareness stage of the funnel, which is why this content should be crafted to educate a potential customer about a particular topic as it relates to your industry and company’s offerings.

At this stage of the funnel, you’re able to teach the buyer new things and how to solve problems more effectively through content. It’s all about giving the buyer the information they are looking for at that stage of the funnel. Slowly this content helps build trust with potential customers, helping to move this buyer down the marketing funnel as they consider reviewing what your company is actually selling.

The marketing of your offerings at each stage of the funnel is likely to be more effective since it’s accurately matched with the activities that a buyer is actually having at that part of the process.

Adding value to a buyer’s experience with your organization across the funnel with email marketing, content marketing or other advertising activities is what will help your organization make use of the persona’s you’ve developed to help drive results for your business.

Your organization should also use your established buyer personas to answer questions about future iterations of your products, services and messaging used to promote them. Use your buyer personas as a reference point when deciding whether to make a change one way or another to your offerings.

Any changes to your company’s offerings should reviewed by looking at your personas to understand if these changes best match the interests of one of your buyers. If the changes your organization is looking to make to a product or marketing collateral don’t benefit or match the preferences of one of your buyers, then there must be another highly compelling reason to move forward with such a change.

Think of your buyer personas as a compass to help give your company direction on where you’re heading in the future.

Examples of Success

To help give further context as to how to create and use buyer personas for your business, here of some examples of how other organizations are using buyer personas.

Caterpillar: As a manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, Caterpillar was trying to understand how many segments made up their audience in order to properly market their offerings to these potential customers.

According to Buyer Persona Institute, by interviewing current Caterpillar customers, the company was able to develop two distinct buyer personas that they need to target. Since their buyer personas were able to better focus their marketing efforts to meet the needs of these two groups, they understand how many segments make up their current customer base and what messaging will resonate with each persona.

Deloitte: Last year, Deloitte, the well-known consulting firm, began to focus on working with smaller businesses in addition to their existing work with the corporate sector. To properly reach this new market, they began by conducting research on buyer behavior to craft accurate buyer profiles.

From here they began crafting key marketing messaging based around these buyer profiles and then weaved these messages into one concise brand story that would appeal to these various buyers. Follow in their footsteps when it comes to their systematic, step-by-step approach.

Nike: As one of the largest sports lifestyle brands, Nike uses many buyer personas to reach its variety of audience segments across the channels where they are most active. Each buyer persona is based on an interest in a particular sport, geographical location and other shared demographics.

For instance, looking at the many Twitter handles Nike has is just one example of how each buyer persona is reached with unique messaging on social media. Consider adopting the same approach by segmenting your audience on social media if each audience is large and active enough. It’s important to not segment to extensively on social media before your business is ready.

Images courtesy of Net Atlantic, Writtent and Barn Raisers.

One of the biggest problems facing businesses today when they’re trying to drive sales for a new product or service is not having an audience interested in their offerings in the first place.

Most organizations recognize this mistake too late in the process or don’t know where to begin when it comes to identifying a potential customer base before they launch a product.

Many businesses think they’ve found the solution to a common problem facing many consumers, since they may have experienced the issue themselves, but in actuality there’s often little demand for most products or services that hit the market today.

Listening to consumers is the key to understanding what offerings people are interested in purchasing, regardless if they are aware of their needs or not.

Therefore, it’s important to develop buyer personas that address the various members that make up your customer base.

What is a buyer persona? A buyer persona is an example of a real person who buys, or might buy, products like the ones you market, based on what you’ve learned from gathering insights on consumers. It’s a profile crafted from their demographics, interests and preferences as a consumer.

How to Create a Buyer Persona

The first part of generating a customer base is planning how to reach them appropriately by understanding who they are. A buyer persona will help map out who your potential customer is and what interests them the most, helping to drive them to your business with inbound marketing. This will help focus your products, services and messaging to help market your offerings to meet the right customer’s needs.

A buyer persona is completely informed by consumer insights either generated through surveys, interviews, marketplace monitoring, focus groups and more; to help your organization identify the pulse of a demographic related to what your business is capable of producing.

Ask the individuals surveyed for their feedback on a specific industry concerning the problems they regularly face, products or services they currently use, what they’d like to see from products or services in the industry and more.

Be sure to pull data and insights in regards to an industry your organization is familiar with in order to better understand the type of customers you’re looking to reach and the unique nuances of a particular industry.

These insights can come in many forms, but primarily consumers can provide your business with what they actually want to see from your type of organization either directly or indirectly.

For example, direct consumer insights might be a majority of customers asking a shoe company to produce more shoes in bigger sizes with a larger variety of colors. This shoe company can take this information received from their customer base directly and apply it to their offerings for the future better catering to their buyer persona.

On the other hand, a famous example of indirect consumer insights is how Steve Jobs of Apple didn’t like to use the feedback from focus groups, but was very aware of common concerns of consumers when it came to how they used computers.

Many people found computers at the time to be confusing and cumbersome, which is one of the reasons Apple created the widely successful iPhone as a simple means of accessing the internet and taking advantage of other features only a computer once offered. Consumers never said they wanted an iPhone, but Jobs and Apple listened to their input about computers often being difficult to use and innovated from there by creating a widely successful product that was in need.

Once you’ve pulled together data on what consumers want either directly or indirectly in regards to a certain area of expertise. Begin pulling together the demographics that make your ideal buyer both from the data you’ve gathered and based on the use of your company’s offerings.

Define the gender, financial situation, education level, profession, age, interests, shopping habits and more for each buyer persona that makes up your particular audience or who your business would like to comprise your audience.

No audience is comprised of one type of buyer persona, which makes it necessary to segment them into different groups to best match your products, services and messaging to each buyer’s needs and interests.

Lay out these buyer personas and begin brainstorming as to the many ways your organization can attract these consumers with your offerings and messaging before developing them.

Ways to Use a Buyer Persona

The best way to use the buyer personas your team has developed is to match each buyer persona’s behaviors to each step of the marketing funnel. By having an accurate profile of your customer base, you’ll be able to make informed decisions as to what interactions a buyer is likely to have with your organization at each step of the funnel as you continue to focus on lead generation.

For example, your ideal buyer may interact with your content at the awareness stage of the funnel, which is why this content should be crafted to educate a potential customer about a particular topic as it relates to your industry and company’s offerings.

At this stage of the funnel, you’re able to teach the buyer new things and how to solve problems more effectively through content. It’s all about giving the buyer the information they are looking for at that stage of the funnel. Slowly this content helps build trust with potential customers, helping to move this buyer down the marketing funnel as they consider reviewing what your company is actually selling.

The marketing of your offerings at each stage of the funnel is likely to be more effective since it’s accurately matched with the activities that a buyer is actually having at that part of the process.

Adding value to a buyer’s experience with your organization across the funnel with email marketing, content marketing or other advertising activities is what will help your organization make use of the persona’s you’ve developed to help drive results for your business.

Your organization should also use your established buyer personas to answer questions about future iterations of your products, services and messaging used to promote them. Use your buyer personas as a reference point when deciding whether to make a change one way or another to your offerings.

Any changes to your company’s offerings should reviewed by looking at your personas to understand if these changes best match the interests of one of your buyers. If the changes your organization is looking to make to a product or marketing collateral don’t benefit or match the preferences of one of your buyers, then there must be another highly compelling reason to move forward with such a change.

Think of your buyer personas as a compass to help give your company direction on where you’re heading in the future.

Examples of Success

To help give further context as to how to create and use buyer personas for your business, here of some examples of how other organizations are using buyer personas.

Caterpillar: As a manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, Caterpillar was trying to understand how many segments made up their audience in order to properly market their offerings to these potential customers.

According to Buyer Persona Institute, by interviewing current Caterpillar customers, the company was able to develop two distinct buyer personas that they need to target. Since their buyer personas were able to better focus their marketing efforts to meet the needs of these two groups, they understand how many segments make up their current customer base and what messaging will resonate with each persona.

Deloitte: Last year, Deloitte, the well-known consulting firm, began to focus on working with smaller businesses in addition to their existing work with the corporate sector. To properly reach this new market, they began by conducting research on buyer behavior to craft accurate buyer profiles.

From here they began crafting key marketing messaging based around these buyer profiles and then weaved these messages into one concise brand story that would appeal to these various buyers. Follow in their footsteps when it comes to their systematic, step-by-step approach.

Nike: As one of the largest sports lifestyle brands, Nike uses many buyer personas to reach its variety of audience segments across the channels where they are most active. Each buyer persona is based on an interest in a particular sport, geographical location and other shared demographics.

For instance, looking at the many Twitter handles Nike has is just one example of how each buyer persona is reached with unique messaging on social media. Consider adopting the same approach by segmenting your audience on social media if each audience is large and active enough. It’s important to not segment to extensively on social media before your business is ready.

Images courtesy of Net Atlantic, Writtent and Barn Raisers.

Share this post




Brian Honigman
Content Marketing & Social Media Consultant
http://www.brianhonigman.com/