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Buyer Personas: What are They and How Do You Create One?

Buyer Personas: What are They and How Do You Create One?

Weslie Oeftering
Weslie Oeftering
Buyer Personas: What are They and How Do You...

In PRoC and most marketing-related readings, the term “buyer persona” crops up often. Unlike other marketing and PR words, however, it’s definition isn’t exactly intuitive.

If you are a small business owner or marketing manager, it’s important to understand who your ideal customers are because it can help you do a better job of targeting, acquiring and servicing them.

Buyer personas help you tailor everything you communicate about your business, from social media content to brand identify, so that you are appealing to your ideal customer. The idea here is that the better it suits this ideal customer, the more product you will sell.

What’s a Buyer Persona?

In short, a buyer persona is a fictional yet realistic depiction of a business’s ideal target customer.

Buyer personas help you find, appeal and ultimately sell your products or services based on real-world insight you gain about them. Buyer personas are highly accurate representations based on all manner of feedback and observations, not rough ideas based on hearsay or casual observations.

Indeed, many companies, especially larger ones that sell multiple products and services, create multiple buyer personas. This is because different products and services often appeal to different types of buyers.

Take Google’s suite of products, for example. The same people who need to use Google Docs are not necessarily the same people who need to use Google Analytics or the Google Cloud Platform.

How Do You Create One?

You arrive at this semi-fictional depiction (which is often give a cute name, like Architect Arthur History Teacher Haley or Programmer Patrick) by combining key market research findings. These findings include customer demographics, their behavioral patterns in relation to your product, as well as their motivations for buying.

Customer Demographics

Some examples of customer demographics are as follows:

  • Age
  • Gender (Including Non-Binary)
  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Geographic Location (Rural, Suburban, Urban)
  • Annual Income
  • Marital Status
  • Number of Children
  • Occupation
  • Level of Education

Behavioral Patterns

Questions to consider when analyzing behavioral patterns of customers include:

  • How do customers usually first hear about your product?
  • Do customers usually buy a lot of product at once or just a little?
  • Do customers usually buy the product for themselves or as a gift for someone else? If so, who is that someone else?
  • Do customers usually buy the product online or in-person? If online, do they usually purchase directly from your site or a third-party like Amazon or Wayfair? If in-person, what store?
  • What time of the year/week/day do customers usually buy the product?
  • How do customers usually find and consume your company’s online content?

Customer Motivations

A customer’s motivation is much harder to pick out from a set of numbers and demographics. Instead, it must be gleaned from this information with some critical thinking.

In other words, to assess motivations you have to ask, “Why is the customer buying this product? What purpose does it fill?”

For example, let’s say you sell pool floats. Why would a customer buy a pool float? Well, it depends on the type of float.

On the one hand, if it’s your average, run-of-the-mill float, then they are likely buying it because they’re the type of person who uses their pool to relax. Therefore, their motivation for buying the product is relaxation.

On the other hand, if it’s a pool float shaped like a pineapple or a unicorn, then they are likely buying it because they’re the type of person who uses their pool for fun. Therefore, their motivation, at least in part, is to have fun and introduce a little whimsy into their life.

Gleaning the necessary information to create a complete buyer persona, however, is by no means an exact science. In order to paint a more reliable picture of an ideal customer’s motivations, many businesses go out into the field to conduct interviews and surveys that help pinpoint exactly what drives their customers to buy.

That’s right: the best buyer personas are crafted by interacting with actual buyers – not just the data. It sounds a little backward in a marketing industry that is increasingly digital and data-oriented. Yet in-person interactions really can be effective at arriving at a deeper understanding of how to craft accurate buyer personas.

For even more information, check out a post published on the Swyft blog about how to create a buyer persona.

About Weslie Oeftering: Weslie is a student at The University of Texas at Austin and Swyft’s resident PR and marketing intern. She supports clients with social media, blogging, and tech PR activities. Swyft is a top digital marketing agency in Austin with offices in Denver, Houston and Antwerp that provides digital marketing services and trade show lead gen support for tech companies around the world. Some of their services include media relations, content and inbound marketing, CPC campaigns, and marketing automation consulting.


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