Creating and Organizing Your Buyer Persona

If there’s a golden rule of marketing, it’s this: know who you’re marketing to. All the technology and social media in the world can’t help you if you’re not creating campaigns that effectively target your ideal audience. One time-honored tool that helps pinpoint your target audience is a buyer persona—the end result of the mountains of data companies collect on their customers. Of course, many companies may find they have more than one buyer persona, which is why it’s important to organize this information in a carefully curated spreadsheet.

[Tweet “If there’s a golden rule of marketing, it’s this: know who you’re marketing to.”]

Our whitepaper, “Intro to 1:1 Marketing,” can show you how to collect the data that allows you to market to customers on a personal level, and our content scorecard can determine if your website is helping you target the right customers. Below, we’ve got some basic info on generating and organizing buyer personas.

What is a buyer persona?

A buyer persona is a fictional example of who is buying your product. It’s your ideal customer personified, based on data you’ve collected from real customers. A buyer persona often contains the following details:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Employment
  • Marital Status
  • Hobbies
  • Education

Don Draper does this a lot, almost instinctively, on Mad Men. In his ad pitches, he often paints a picture to the clients of the ideal customer, and how he or she will use the product—like when he uses Kodak’s carousel slide projector to show the Kodak execs pictures from his wedding and the birth of his children, all while explaining that the ideal customer will use the projector as “a time machine … It goes backwards and forwards, and it takes us to a place where we ache to go again.” It’s a pretty moving scene, because he’s connecting with that need for nostalgia we all have. He’s not going on about the projector’s features or cost-effectiveness, because he knows that information just won’t resonate with the ideal buyer.

Creating a Buyer Persona

When putting together a buyer persona, start with the basic attributes above, along with any others that are relevant to your product. Then, based on these characteristics, think about the problems or responsibilities this person might have. Forbes recommends interviewing current clients and asking for their feedback. This tactic will not only get you information you need; you’ll also learn how your target audience expresses their needs and problems. As we’ve said previously, knowing how your ideal customer speaks helps you write effective ad copy.

If you have an idea of the challenges this person faces, then you can market your products in a way that presents them as the solutions your target audience needs. Business 2 Community offers this example in a recent article:

Suppose you sell software. The coordinator, who will use it, cares about ease of use and speed. The manager, who is accountable to an executive, wants results that are tracked so she or he has something to show the boss. That executive cares about the return on investment, so he or she can prove that they made a good business decision when they acquired that software.

Most companies have more than one buyer persona, but be sure that yours are different enough to stand alone. That way, you can create distinct messages and campaigns around these different personas.

 Organizing Buyer Personas

Once you’ve got a different buyer persona for each of your ideal customer groups, you should organize them in a way that’s easy to reference, since your marketing and sales teams will use this information to create marketing plans targeted at each of these buyers.

One of the simplest ways to do this is by creating a matrix, which can be done in Excel or any spreadsheet program. You can go into as much detail as you like, but the matrix should at least list the titles for each buyer persona—”Working Mom,” “Account Manager,” “High School Athlete,” etc.—and then the attributes, needs, and challenges for each persona.

Download our whitepaper on 1:1 marketing to learn how to get your message out to your ideal customers in an effective, engaging way. You should also grade your website with our new content scorecard, to see if you’re getting the traffic you should.

William Flanagan

CEO & Founder, Audienti. Former VP-Cognio, Founder-sentitO/Verso, SALIX/Tellabs, PrimaryAccess/3Com, CompuServe. Expert in data-driven marketing.

Newsletter Signup

Signup for our general newsletter.
  • You can unsubscribe at any time.