How should I define buyer personas?

Buyer personas are an essential component of your marketing strategy. These fictional characters represent the ideal profile of a potential customer. The benefit of creating personas is that you can use those insights to make informed decisions about the best way to reach and engage with your target audience, so you can successfully attract and acquire customers.

Obviously, priorities change as customers go from buying to using a product. This is why companies often create two different types of personas — buyer and user personas. Even if the people these personas represent are the same, understanding what matters most at different stages of the customer journey will help your company provide a Complete Product Experience.

Why do marketing teams create buyer personas?

Buyer personas are used to inform all aspects of marketing and help you explain the “why” behind your marketing decisions. Understanding the demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals of potential buyers helps you empathize with your customers. This research should be part of developing your marketing plans, which will guide how you target customer segments and message your product.

Here are a few of the key benefits of creating buyer personas:

  • Understand who your ideal customers are and what matters to them

  • Create positioning and messaging that resonates

  • Prioritize impactful programs, campaigns, and activities

  • Optimize the buyer journey so you can nurture and acquire more customers

Product marketing often creates buyer personas to inform the go-to-market strategy for a product or service that the company delivers. Then, other marketing teammates can use these buyer personas to inform their work — from content creation to optimizing acquisition funnels. Buyer personas are also useful tools for training the sales team on who your ideal target audience is.

What are the different types of buyer personas?

Buyer personas will differ depending on your industry. If you are selling to consumers (B2C) your buyer personas will be more focused on specific purchasing behaviors — such as an individual’s spending habits.

However, if you are selling to other businesses (B2B), the purchasing process is more complex and involves different people. You may need different buyer personas for different customer segments as well. And you may also need several personas to reflect everyone involved in the purchasing process. Below are the different types of buyer personas for B2B companies and examples of the types of marketing materials you can create to help make the buying process more efficient.

B2B buyer personas

Description

Marketing material examples

Champion

The champion is the person who advocates for purchasing your product and presents it to internal decision-makers. It is especially important to equip your champion with materials to advocate on your behalf.

  • Evaluation checklist

  • Overview presentation

  • Customer success stories

These materials make it easier for your champion to help “sell” your product internally and ensure they are relaying the right messaging and benefits:

Economic buyer

The economic buyer is usually an executive or more senior team member who will ultimately sign off on the decision to purchase your product. They may not spend much or any time actually using your product, but they should clearly understand the value it provides.

  • Return on investment (ROI) calculator

This material helps senior decision-makers quickly estimate the value your product will provide and justify their purchase:

IT reviewer

The IT reviewer might be on the security or IT team. Their priority is ensuring your product or service meets the company’s security and regulatory requirements.

  • Security webpage or PDF document with security FAQs

This material helps IT reviewers easily find information about security features and compliance they need to confirm about your company:

Procurement

The procurement manager makes sure the purchase of your product follows company protocols. They may be involved with the evaluation of your product, negotiating the contract, and competitor comparisons.

  • High-level content that clearly explains how your product meets their business needs

  • Pricing documentation

These materials help procurement understand the impact of your product for their organization and how much it will cost:

User evaluators

User evaluators typically belong to a pilot group within the company. They evaluate your product or service on behalf of the rest of their team. They can influence the buying decision but are not typically responsible for it. Product management will build out user personas in more detail, but it is important to understand what users are looking for during the evaluation stage as well.

  • User guides

  • Evaluation guides

  • In-app prompts for trial users

These materials help user evaluators quickly find value in your product for their use case (even if they have already seen a product demonstration or used your product in the past):

How to determine the right buyer personas?

Now that you have learned about the different types of personas, the next step is to start doing research.

1. Gather data

The first step is to gather data. You likely have quite a bit already. If your company uses a customer relationship manager (CRM), check to see what types of leads are most likely to convert to paying customers. Read what people say about your company on review sites, online communities, and in direct interactions (support tickets, surveys, or sales calls). Remember to be curious — you can glean insights from talking to customer-facing teams at your company. The goal is to more deeply understand your buyers’ challenges, goals, and motivations.

While there are multiple data sources you can use to create your buyer personas, the findings can be categorized into two types: qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative research refers to understanding your buyers’ behaviors and what motivates them. Quantitative research means using numbers to quantify buyer patterns and support your findings.

Examples of qualitative data:

  • Motivations

  • Challenges

  • Goals

Examples of quantitative data:

  • Demographics

  • Professional skills

  • Buying preferences

2. Compile findings

Cross-reference that data with conversations you have had with customers as well as your sales and support teams — they know a lot about customers too. Look for patterns between people who convert to paying customers and people who do not. You can start by grouping similar buyers using title and role data. Then, you can map those groups to the relevant persona from the table above. For example, more senior titles are typically economic buyers, while mid-level or junior titles could be champions or user evaluators.

3. Build out a buyer persona template

Now that you have gathered data and compiled your findings, you are ready to create personas. The persona template below shows the key information you need to capture so the team can better understand your potential buyers. Download it for free to get started quickly — you can customize it to include additional information that might be helpful for your company.


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