How to Build A Killer Buyer Persona In 5 Easy Steps (With an Example!)

On May 29, 2019 11:20:14 AM
Ryan Bromsgrove

Ryan Bromsgrove

Senior Content Writer

Go to any marketing advice piece, and you’ll see one word over and over: “persona”. Knowing your buyer persona is vital — but many businesses don’t spend much time formalizing them. Or maybe they do, and then they ignore them.

Not good.

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A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of a customer. What that means is you’re not necessarily looking at one single real customer you have and writing down their characteristics — you’re thinking about the kinds of people who are your customers, or who you intend to be your customers, and amalgamating them into one representation.

Let’s build a persona. We’ll use the example of a SaaS company developing software that automates the booking procedure for rooms in facilities like schools, libraries, and other such places.

1: What Problem Are You Solving?

Before you worry about things like the average age of a buyer, the job role, and so on, address the biggest question in smart selling: what problems are you solving?

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In our example, the SaaS product is able to receive booking requests, show the user what’s available, allow them to make a booking, send a confirmation, take payment, and notify facility staff. This means that what previously may have been done over the phone or in-person can now be done without a human’s input.

What that does is make booking more accessible to the user. It also means that staff don’t have to spend their time doing relatively low-value work. And it will reduce the chance of error.

2: Address the Pains These Problems Cause

In this situation, you could be looking at two personas. One, is the front-line staff who would make the booking. They might be interested in your product as a means of freeing up their work day and getting through more tasks faster. But we’ll focus on the Manager.

Let’s bullet-point the problems the Manager faces:

  • They too are interested in the time available to their staff to perform various tasks
  • They need to demonstrate efficiencies to their own boss
  • They want to reduce the number of unhappy customers
    • Perhaps double bookings are a problem
    • Or people frequently get booked into the wrong places
  • There could be issues collecting prompt payment
  • There could be unacceptable delays in the booking process
  • They could simply be hearing from their customers that they prefer to book elsewhere because it’s easier

Build up a list of these kinds of problems. These are your pain points.

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The most important note to make on personas is that in the early stages of the buyer’s journey, people aren’t specifically interested in your product. They’re interested in finding solutions to the daily pains they experience. So, if you want to make a connection you can nurture into a deal, you have to address your early messaging here. 

3: Now That You Have the Pain, Branch Out

With the pains in place, it’s time to look at what else you need to know about your persona. The next thing to understand is what their job entails generally. Yes, the Manager in this case is concerned about booking, but it’s likely their responsibilities extend further. In the types of organizations you’re targeting, it could be that they’re not the sole decision-maker. It could mean that they’re extremely busy.

This can tell you that you may need some material to help them explain your product to the other decision-makers. It will help you start building a picture of the environment that they’re working in. Or you may need to build material to explain how your SaaS product can have a holistic impact on their work — it’s not just about the booking.

Ask yourself what a day in their life looks like. What types of tasks do they do when they get to the workplace? Are they the kind of employee that’s likely to put in extra time at home, or do they switch off? Do they attend events you might be able to meet them at? Are they likely to have time for a phone call, or are they avid email-checkers? 

Then finally, you may want to do some demographic research. Are managers in these situations typically older? Do they skew one way or the other on gender? List any relevant information you think could be useful.

Not actually sure of this stuff? Well, make a phone call. See if one of your existing customers will lend you 20 minutes to answer a few questions (or just cold call someone and buy them coffee). You’d be surprised how open people often are about their problems!

Finally, if you feel like it, give your person a real human name, and write up this information in a short story.

4: How to Use Your New Persona

By now, we might have something that looks like this:

Sophie is a 40-year-old manager at a library in a mid-sized city. She works Monday to Friday, and among many other duties, oversees the booking process for groups that wish to book meeting rooms. With her attention constantly torn between many responsibilities, she needs to know that her staff are working efficiently even when she can’t check-in (especially over the weekend), and that the library maintains a good reputation for providing community meeting space.

She’s trying to minimize disruption caused by double bookings, inadequate rooms, mistakes on booking length, and missed payments. The booking revenue has been declining after a venue of comparable size recently opened, and she thinks the outdated procedures could be partly to blame. She has to report to the Library Director and is under pressure to demonstrate the smooth day-to-day operation of all library functions.

Of course, this is just an example. You may be able to compile even more information. You may want to describe this information in tables rather than in prose. Whatever works.

Now, this information isn’t supposed to make you blindly focus — just because, say, 65% of library managers are women doesn’t mean you don’t want to also target the men — but they can inform your overall direction and decision-making.

It can help you make an educated guess on which social media channels to focus your efforts on. Where targeting ads might do best. The balance of content you produce. All kinds of things.

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Basically, whenever you’re making a decision about a media buy, content production, sales email sequence, or anything: refer back to your buyer persona and ask these two questions:

“Am I addressing a pain point?”

“Is this approach likely to reach my persona?”

5: Don’t Stop Working on Your Personas!

Just because you got things figured out once doesn’t mean you can rely on these guys forever. Things change. The market changes. Perhaps your product changes. New personas may become more relevant, or older personas may wane.

Keep your eyes open — and keep communication ongoing with your sales staff. They’re speaking to prospects every day, and if there’s something you need to be aware of, chances are they’re getting insights before anyone else. Follow up with customers after the sale and find out exactly what’s working well for them. Perhaps they’ve even gotten some use out of your product you didn’t even know about!

Put these five tips to work, and you’ll see the effectiveness of your marketing soar. You’ll be more likely to actually get your message in front of your potential customers — and you’ll have a much easier time getting and holding their attention long enough to get them in your pipeline.

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Want us to do all this for you? Flawless Inbound has helped more than 75 B2B organizations achieve their growth goals through putting smart marketing tactics into practice — and learning from our success every day. Contact us here — or learn more about this entire inbound method here.

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