“Who Is Going To Buy From You?” — An Illustrated Guide To Buyer’s Persona

This article deals with the Concept, Research and Creation of Customer Avatar or Buyer’s Persona. It continues further on the topic discussed in the first assignment, which dealt with the essence and key aspects of Digital Marketing. You can read it here.

A key element of the ‘Why’ of Digital Marketing is to understand ‘Whom are you marketing to?’.

The first set of questions that would pop up in anyone’s mind, when thinking of Digital Marketing, are most likely going to be, ‘Why should we do Digital Marketing, what is it anyway?’ or ‘Who will be our customers’ or ‘Whom are we going to sell to?’, etc.

Notice, that along with the question of the ‘reason’ to market digitally, comes the question of ‘whom-to-market-to’ digitally.

Since, marketing is essentially ‘focused-communication’, carried out with a clear and defined intention, we can safely say that to allow any form of marketing to be successful, we need to have a source and a recipient. Here, the ‘source’ is the marketer or the business and the ‘recipient’ is the buyer or consumer to whom the message is being conveyed to.

Infact, even when a conversation is happening as 1-to-Many, any speaker cannot speak effectively without looking at one of his audiences; at any given moment. He cannot look around speaking to the walls. It is just not possible. In any form of effective communication, there need to be a connection established between the speak and the audience, which can only happen when the speaker focuses on a person in the audience, at any given moment.

The biggest advantage of mastering 1 to 1 communication is that it leads to an improved 1-to-Many communication, automatically.

What is Buyer’s Persona

Your buyer may somewhat look like this

Buyer’s Persona is a data-driven generalized representation of a homogeneous segment of ideal customers in the target market.

It allows us to create outcome-driven product/service to the meet specific needs of the customers. It ensures that, what we create for customers, matches with their behaviour and addresses their concerns.

Even though the user persona refers to the characteristics of one individual customer or buyer; in practical terms, it is a representation of a group of ideal individual customers sharing a similar set of defined characteristics.

The defined user persona shall represent a specific segment of the target market and it will have a significant impact on the buyer’s journey and the overall content/product creation strategy.

Since a buyer/user persona is derived through real data, it does not leave anything to chance. It allows us to create something with a higher chance of reaching a desired transactional goal with the customer.

The concept of buyer’s persona goes beyond digital marketing. It is successfully used in product development, content planning, and strategizing content delivery as well.

The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself. — Peter Drucker

What constitutes a Buyer’s Persona

To be successful with creation of a buyer’s persona, you need to know the following, in detail. All the questions that you would want to ask them can be categorized within these categories.

  1. Who is he/she?
  2. What is his/her main goal?
  3. What are the hurdles he/she is facing en route his/her goal?
The Anatomy of a Buyers Persona

Our core concern is to understand the customer, his problems and his aspirations well enough to be able to create something worthwhile for him/her and map out a strategy to deliver it in a way that ensures the best user experience possible.

Create a Buyer’s Persona with this 6 Step Process

The 6 steps process of Buyer’s Persona creation can be broadly categorized into 3 stages:

Stage 1: Identifying the Buyer

Stage 2: Understanding the Buyer

Stage 3: Personifying the Buyer

One must go through these steps to be able to create a complete and detailed Buyer’s Persona.

The 6 Steps to Buyer’s Persona

Stage 1: Identifying the Buyer

Step 1: Deciding the Market-Niche using Keyword Research

Even before you begin to identify the buyer, you need determine the market-niche to focus on. Unless you know that clearly, searching for the buyer would be meaningless.

To find out the market-niche, you need to do Keyword research, for which you can make use of tools like Google Auto-Suggest, answerthepublic.com, Ubersuggest, MindMaester, Google Keyword Planner, etc.

Using the above tools, you can observe and make a list of the popular keywords with medium to low competition of ‘similar theme or topic’. These shall give you an idea of the kind of searches being carried out by random buyers on the internet.

With this data, you can narrow down on some key topics of your passion that matches with opportunity in the market. This can become your target niche, for the moment. You can switch or add another target niche overtime with some experience of working in the current niche.

Step 2: Preparing a Public Survey Form

Once ‘your’ target niche is clear and you have a general idea of the questions your potential buyers are asking on the internet, you would need more data about them.

Here you can make use of this list of questions or come up with your own list of questions that they might have. Your list should contain both the kind of questions — Demographic and Psychographic.

Demographic information includes Name, Age, Gender, Location, Occupation, etc.; while Psychographic information includes a person’s Goals, Objectives, Challenges, Aspirations, Lifestyle, Interest, Attitude, etc.

Once your list is ready, you can utilize either of these survey tools to create a presentable survey form. The most popular survey tools are Google Forms (completely free), Survey Monkey (limited features and premium) and Type Form (limited features and premium).

While preparing the survey form, make sure you do the following:

  • Keep the number of questions between 15–25.
    The more the number of questions in the form, the less likely a person is going to complete it.
  • Begin with simple demographic questions before placing psychographic questions.
    Answering demographic questions first, sets the tone and rhythm for the person to be at ease to answer the psychographic questions.
  • Keep the psychographic questions limited to a single line.
    Unless, it is absolutely imperative, try not to put double-line psychographic questions.
  • Refrain from leading questions.
    It is surprisingly easy to lead someone to give an answer that you might want to hear. Avoid that at all costs. Such questions will render your survey meaningless because what you will end up with is something that you wanted to hear rather than what your customers could have said.
  • Ask open-ended questions.
    Open-ended questions are those that elicit a meaningful response based on a person‘s feelings, thoughts and actions. Ex.: ‘How are you feeling today?’ is an open-ended question vs ‘Are you feeling better today?’ is a close-ended question. Though, close-ended questions limit a person’s choice of answers, they can be used very occasionally.
  • Add questions that reveal his stage in the life-cycle as a buyer.
    Buyer’s Life cycle or Buyer’s Journey is a process of active research that a potential buyer goes through leading upto the purchase —Awareness’, ‘Consideration’ and ‘Decision’. It helps us in figuring out what stage of the sales cycle your customer is at. It makes way for a very specific and targeted content/product/service for the buyer.
  • Place a ‘Thank You’ note/slide/photo at the end of the survey.
    This is not essential but it does add politeness to your approach and goes to show that you do not take their time for granted. For this feature, Google Forms works the best (in my opinion) as its completely free with all the required features.
Stage 1 — Identifying the Buyer

Step 3: Collecting data with the Survey Form

With the survey form complete, the next step is to approach people to use it to provide the details we need.

Though there are many tools that can be used to approach the people at large, the best place to start is to approach those who have already experienced your service or product in the past or those who know you and trust you, so as to be able to provide their details without a hitch or apprehension.

The only person who can have apprehensions approaching people is going to be yourself. More so, the biggest hitch would arise from the fear of negative or critical responses from the people who have already experienced your product or service.

It is here that you must be open-minded and allow yourself to step out of the comfort-zone. Being open to criticism and letting critical responses come your way will allow you to get valuable feedback and rich insight into the actual vs assumptive problems and hardships your customers might have faced or probably ‘are facing’ currently.

Now, you would need to prepare a list of ex-customers, current customers, acquaintances, family and friends. These are the people you should be approaching ‘individually’. You will be surprised how easy it can be to collect about 50 entries. All you need is to approach them appropriately through a customized message or a phone call.

All you need is a simple text or an email or a phone call requesting someone (with utmost politeness) to give your their valuable feedback so that you can serve them better in the future. It will speak of your commitment and dedication lot more than anything else that you probably can.

This is going to cost you some time but ensures greatest return on the time and effort invested. I can guarantee you, of that.

Additionally, you can post your survey form link across all of your preferred social media platforms, to get more entries.

Stage 2: Understanding the Buyer

Step 4: Analyzing the data

Once the data is collected, a simple glance at the gist of the data collected will help you identify your buyers.

The objective here is to find out what are the majorities in the collected data. This analysis of the data will give you an idea of what are the key characteristics, features and traits of your customer.

Using these averages from the data, you can make a list of the most common traits of a buyer in a homogeneous market segment. These questions can now be presented as a quick-survey, in bullet-format, to the same or a different group of people.

Ask them to give a score on how much do they related to the traits of this person in question (the list) on a scale of 0 to 100%.

Based on the feedback received, make a list of people who responded with anything ranging from 95% — 100 %. These are the ones who come closest to being your ideal buyers.

Step 5: Interviewing the best fit

With the final list of candidates ready, call them or send them a text thanking them and informing them that they are the ones whom you are eager to help and serve. Request them to allow you with 5–10 minutes of their time so that you can learn more about them.

Here you can go ahead and ask them deeper and more meaningful questions on life, journey so far, challenges, fears, dreams, etc. Remember, the deeper the questions are, the better you can connect with them.

They will get to know that they are being heard, that you are taking them seriously. This will give them a reason to trust you.

Stage 2 —Understanding the Buyer

Stage 3: Personifying the Buyer

With all the data collected and the most likely candidates interviewed, you have reached the final stage of creation of the Buyer’s Persona.

The data and answers collected must have given you a somewhat clear picture of your ideal buyer. Now, all that you require is a visual representation of the buyer.

At this stage, you can choose to :

  • Ask them for permission to use their photograph, or
  • Sketch or draw your ideal customer through imagination, or
  • Use a customer avatar tool.

Now stitch together the buyer’s picture along with the list of all the characteristics of your buyer.

Vola! Your Buyer’s Persona is finally ready.

Stage 3 — Visual Representation of the Buyer

How I created My Buyer’s Persona

With my niche being, ‘Online Fat loss coaching for busy professionals within 25-35 years of age’, I was looking up to my current and former clients for some feedback and opinions. So, I prepared a survey form with Google Forms and forwarded it to all of them with a request message.

I also posted the link (form) on all the social media platforms that I am active on. I managed to collect a total of 47 unique entries.

Upon studying the data, I found a pattern with everyone’s responses (a few of the screenshots attached below).

Data showing results for Location, Educational Qualification and School Performance
Data showing results for awareness for health and fitness
Data showing results for results for willingness for online fitness coaching

I used this information to enlist the traits common to a larger section of the audience (the highest voted answers for each question). You can find them below:

  • Age — 25–30 years
  • Occupation — Student / Salaried Employee
  • Location — A metropolitan city in India
  • Educational Qualification — Undergraduate/Graduate
  • School Performance — Above-average student
  • Marital Status — Single
  • Biggest accomplishment in life — Yet to come
  • 3 Hobbies — Music, Reading, Traveling
  • Travel Frequency — Periodically
  • Inspirational Figure — Many but mom is at the top
  • Fitness Inspiration — Sports Athletes
  • Fitness Research on Internet — Sometimes
  • Satisfaction with Search results on internet — Somewhat but looking for better info.
  • Fitness Needs — Believes getting fit can do a lot for him/her psychologically. There is a need to lose fat and build some muscle for aesthetic looks.
  • Level of Fitness Activity — Moderately Active
  • Eating Habits — Tries to eat clean but frequently eats out
  • Health Expenditure — up-to 5000 per month
  • Willingness for Online Coaching — Willing but depends on the credentials and track record of the service provider/instructor

I took the the traits (listed above) and created another short, scoring-type survey (as displayed below) asking a different group of people to take part and score (0–100) based on how much do they relate to the traits of my potential buyer, as mentioned in the form.

I carefully analyzed the summary of the entries received in the form. By now, I had a clearer idea about the psychology, behaviour and decision making pattern of my buyers and non-buyers.

This was empowering! The feeling of being able to understand the buyer so much better, gave me the direction and clarity for building the buyer’s persona.

I decided to take it a step further.

I wanted to find out more. So I selected, from amongst the second round of respondents, those who could relate to the average traits of my ideal buyer by up-to 95% or more.

One of those respondents is my customer at present. I decided to interview him personally with questions relating to his thought-process, concern, inhibitions, past experiences and future aspirations.

After the interview, I could finally draw the persona of my ideal buyer. This is how he looks like.

Sketch of my buyer
  • Vishal Anand is a 25–30 years old lawyer from Bangalore.
  • He aims to get super-fit physically and very successful in his profession as a Corporate Lawyer (which he takes pride in).
  • He earns just enough to make his ends meet and only travels for work, periodically.
  • He is an introvert by nature and finds it difficult to open up and meet women.
  • He is not in a great physical shape owing to his bad eating habits, issues with priority between work and workout. This adds to his dwindling morale and confidence.
  • Even though he understands that getting fit can boost his confidence and physical health, he lacks any motivation to take any step towards it.
  • Sometimes, he seeks health and fitness related information online but is largely dissatisfied with the available information.
  • He is aware of Online Fitness Coaching and is willing to try it for himself, provided he gets the correct guidance from a credible and certified coach.

You can find more details about him in the complete profile, below:

My Buyer’s Persona with his Demographic and Psychographic details

So what’s the takeaway, here?

A Buyer’s Persona, well-researched, is often the key determinant of the success of a marketing campaign.

It not only gives us clarity of purpose by focusing on the center of a market segment instead of the end ranges, but also answers key questions like — ‘whom are we marketing to?’ ‘why are we marketing digitally?’ and ‘what are we going to market digitally?’.

It leaves no scope for distraction and guess-work. It gives us the clarity of purpose and allows us to be authentic in our communication, which is elemental in building a trusted relationship with our customers.

Thank you for the time you invested in reading this article in its entirety. It keeps me grounded and focused on delivering value to you as my reader.

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On a never-ending quest for strength, resilience and intelligence. Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s life motto: Ostinato Rigore.