Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers that offer real-world benefits and are extremely useful to your marketing efforts. They can be used to develop targeted content for different customer types, craft relevant and compelling messaging, and help unite your sales, marketing and service teams by sharing a greater understanding of your customers. Buyer personas can even help guide product development efforts.

Biomedical engineers.
Buyer personas of your ideal customers offer real-world benefits and help your marketing efforts such as content, messaging, and more.

How to start

The raw material for developing buyer personas can come from multiple sources. It may be enough to rely on anecdotal experience from your sales team or other institutional knowledge regarding the goals and needs of your customers. However, you may want to engage in research or use other data to get a richer, more comprehensive persona. Many companies use demographic data as part of their buyer personas. Others conduct surveys or one-to-one customer interviews. You can also use online or offline behavior patterns to help fill out a persona. You may even have a good deal of this information on hand from other analytic efforts, such as tracking website visitors or content from case studies.

What to include

Buyer personas don’t need to be complex or long. They should contain only information that is useful to your marketing efforts. Develop a separate persona for each type of customer that you have. If you only have one type of customer, you only need one buyer persona. If you have many types of customers, or if many people are involved in the purchase decision for your products (such as recommenders, influencers, users, and purchasing agents), you should develop a buyer persona for each type.

Here is some of the typical information you might include in a buyer persona:

  • Profile. The type and title of the technical professional who is interested in your products. An engineer (design, process, production), a department head or a team lead, a senior manager, and so on. What are their professional duties and areas of responsibility?
  • Challenges. What problem is your customer attempting to solve? How is this problem negatively impacting them? What are the consequences of not solving it?
  • Goals. What benefits do they hope to achieve with the sought-after product/solution?
  • Obstacles/Objections. What might prevent your customer from buying your product/solution? For example: financial constraints, strong competitive offerings, lack of confidence in your solution or perceived weaknesses, support or warranty issues.
  • Value proposition. What solution are you offering and how does it address the challenges, meet the goals, and overcome the obstacles/objections of your profiled customer?

Create a template

Once you have decided what information you need to collect in order to develop buyer personas, create a one-page template that you can complete for each type of persona. A template is a smart choice because it allows you to maintain consistency and have the same fields for each persona, such as Customer Profile, Challenges and Solution.

Share buyer personas with your team and across teams, including sales, customer service and product development. Help everyone get to know what makes your customers tick and what’s important to them so that everyone has a shared understanding. Make use of buyer personas in internal training efforts and when you bring on new team members.

Develop stronger messaging

Detailed buyer personas will help you develop stronger and more compelling messaging in support of your marketing efforts. Better knowledge of your customers allows you to target messaging to their specific needs, goals and challenges. You can more accurately position your products. You’ll be able to focus on the most important benefits.

Developing buyer personas shouldn’t require excessive time and resources on your part, yet the payoff can be significant. Revisit the buyer personas once a year or when your company launches new products, enters new markets or organizational changes occur such as mergers or acquisitions.

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How have you developed or used buyer personas? What advice would you give to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Photo credit: UC Davis College of Engineering / Foter / CC BY

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