Buyer Personas: How to Create this Critical Business Asset


Buyer Personas: How to Create this Critical Business Asset

Picture of Adam Ramshaw
Adam Ramshaw
Adam Ramshaw has been helping companies to improve their Net Promoter® and Customer Feedback systems for more than 15 years. He is on a mission to stamp out ineffective processes and bad surveys.
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With deference to George Harrison’s classic song lyric

“If you don’t know your customer’s persona, any customer experience will take you there.

Without a clear and well defined buyer personas, you risk creating customer experiences that frustrate and annoy customers while simultaneously driving up your cost to service them. Frustrated customers complain more and more loudly.

Whereas, creating a customer experience that matches your customer personas drives customer satisfaction, loyalty and lower costs.

So let’s

Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop.
(An actual Alice in Wonderland quote!)

We've put together a detailed eBook on creating an effective buyer persona:  Download Now

Buyer Persona Defined

We use Buyer Personas because it’s much easier to create a customer experience for “real” people than a fuzzily defined “customer”. Personas make our customers more tangible and understandable.

So buyer personas are just detailed descriptions of your ideal customers that can be used in the design process. They are necessarily fictional and generalised but they are useful.

Because they need to be accurate, the best personas are generated using market research, real customer interviews and other data collection approaches. Imagined personas, without verification, can be inaccurate and misleading.

Commons uses for Personas are as:

  1. A tool to communicate the buyer attributes within your team and across your company.
  2. A test against which you validate any area of your customer experience: “What would Bargain Jim or Extravagant Jane think of this experience?”

The number of personas you create depends on your business but you can start with just one or two and build out from there. Just ensure that as you build them out they are mutually exclusive, i.e. each is unique in it’s scope.

Also start with your highest volume groups so you cover as much of your customer base as possible as quickly as possible.

Where You Should Use Personas

Persona’s can and should be applied across your entire customer journey, starting at the awareness stage.

Pre-Sale Customer Experience / Inbound marketing

To ensure that you target prospects that convert to loyal, long term customers you should craft your inbound marketing assets and approaches to attract your personas.

Experience design

Personas have traditionally been used in website experience design and implementation to ensure a low friction, i.e. easy to use, user interface is created. Of course they are just as important the world of general customer experience design.

How to Create a Customer Persona

Essentially the task of creating a customer persona is one of listening to and researching your customers. There are a variety of approaches you can use.

Customer Surveys

Data from your customer feedback and market research surveys should be reviewed to determine how it might enhance your buyer personas.

Interview Customers

That’s right, go out and talk to a few customers. Get a better understanding of who they are what they want.

Convergent interviewing is a great way to perform this type of interview.

Surprisingly it doesn’t take many interviews before the persona factors start to converge. After only 10 or 15 interviews the important factors will have become clear.

Interview Sales and Operations staff

Your sales and operations staff already know which prospects convert fastest and for the most value. They also know who are the easiest (lowest cost) to service.

Chat to them about the characteristics that make up the different buyer personas you are developing.

Review Won/Lost/Abandoned data for your business.

If you track Won/Lost/Abandoned sales this can be a treasure trove of data about which personas are most likely to become customers and which are least likely to become customers.

A couple of years ago at Genroe we used exactly this approach to create buyer personas that were very accurate. With just a few key pieces of information about the buyer – not their company details – we can tell which are 80% likely to buy from us and which are 80% likely not to buy from us.

Buyer Persona Questions

There are a range of questions that you should you should answer when creating buyer personas. Not all of the questions below are relevant to all personas but it is a comprehensive list – use those that make sense for your business and discard the others.

  • Background
    • Job?
    • Career Path?
    • Family
  • Demographic questions
    • Male Or Female?
    • Age?
    • Income?
    • Location?
  • Identifiers
    • Demeanor?
    • Communication Preferences?
  • Goals
    • Primary Goal?
    • Secondary Goal?
  • Challenges
    • Primary Challenge?
    • Secondary Challenge?
  • What Can We Do
    • …to help our Persona achieve their goals?
    • …to help our persona overcome their challenges?
  • Real Quotes About Goals, Challenges, Etc
  • Common Objections
    • Why Wouldn’t They Buy Your Product/Service?
We've put together a detailed eBook on creating an effective buyer persona:  Download Now

George Harrison

Curious fact: most people think that this line is from Alice in Wonderland:

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.

When it’s actually from George Harrison’s song “Any Road”