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What does the term "buyer persona" mean?

A buyer persona is a research-based detailed description of your most valuable customers, providing insight into demographics and customer behaviour, goals, issues and needs. A buyer persona plays a crucial role in marketing strategies, sales activities and content creation.

Good buyer personas are based on data from the market. This includes results from studies, surveys and interviews with customers. You may therefore choose to create multiple personas when multiple customer groups are important to your business. For a small business, one buyer persona will usually suffice. At a large clothing shop, selling women's, men's and children's clothing, you might have three different buyer personas.

Want to learn more about what a buyer persona is and why it's crucial to have one? Start by reading the blog What is a buyer persona and why is it important?.

How do you create the ideal buyer persona?

Who is the person behind your buyer persona?

You set up a buyer persona based on characteristics. Think of (demographic) characteristics such as:  

  • Gender
  • Age
  • City
  • Education level
  • Job level
  • Relationship status  
  • Hobbies

After you have captured the characteristics of your buyer persona, move on to needs, wants, challenges and goals. To gather the above information, start by analysing valuable information you already have yourself. Think of your mailing list, followers on social platforms, information from the CRM system and visitors to your website. 

What is the purpose of your buyer persona?

Your customers don't just buy a product or service, they have a goal they want to achieve with it. By investigating your customer's motive, you want to find out what their end goal is with the product or service they bought. If you sell shoes, your customer's end goal might be: "I want new shoes". Here, focus on what you can do for your buyer persona to achieve its goal. To find out the purpose of your buyer persona regarding your product or service, you can conduct interviews or surveys of customers who are typical of your target audience. 

What are your buyer persona's problems and challenges?

 When you know what your buyer persona's problems are and what challenges they face, you can adapt your content accordingly. In the content, you then show that you have the solution to the problem your potential customer has. 
As a shoe retailer, your buyer persona's problem and challenge could be: 

  • Problem: "I want good quality new shoes, but I have a limited budget."
  • Challenge: "There are so many different types of shoes and I don't know which ones are the best value for money."

Which media does your buyer persona use? 

It is essential to find out which channels your buyer persona is active on. It is very good if you are aware that your customers are for example very active on social media. The next question you should then ask is: on which social platforms is my buyer persona active? If you have no insight into this, there is a high risk of sharing your content on the wrong platform. As a result, you will still not achieve your goal with the content you have so carefully tailored to your target audience. 

Visualising your buyer persona

Visualising your buyer persona will help you (and your team) gain insight into the target audience. Therefore, make your buyer persona as vivid as possible. Process the information you have gathered in a clear visual, adding quotes from interviews to your visual if necessary. Don't forget to add a name and photo of a person who matches your target audience. This will help you empathise with your target audience.

Negative persona

In your marketing strategy, it is important to know who your ideal customer is, but also who is not. A negative persona is a fictitious representation of which customer group you don't want to attract, so you don't invest money and time in a customer group that ultimately yields nothing. So a negative persona implies a customer group that is not a fit for your business. 

Here you can think of someone who: 

  • Has no interest in your product.
  • Lives in the UK, while you have a shoe store in The Netherlands.
  • Goes through steps in the buying process, but ultimately doesn't buy anything.
  • Who uses all your free services, but does not become a customer. 

Having a negative persona has the advantage of recognising your non-ideal customers faster. Which allows you to spend the time and energy you would otherwise invest in them on your ideal customer group.

When creating a negative persona, just like creating a buyer persona, you start by gathering demographic data. In addition, you want to know what characteristics your negative persona possesses, what behaviour they exhibit and you want to know how to recognise one.   

How can you use buyer personas for marketing purposes?

When creating content and distributing it to your potential customers, it is important to use your buyer persona as a starting point. Because you know what they value based on your buyer persona, you can adjust your marketing accordingly. This allows you to personalise your marketing activities in a simpler and more targeted way. Think of creating targeted content tailored to the needs of the potential customer. You can also set up e-mail marketing better, because you know your ideal customer better.