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Your Buyer Persona Mirrors What Best Customers Want From You

Creating a buyer persona lets businesses focus their marketing and be more productive. The fictional person embodies an ideal customer’s buying habits.

Create a formal portrait of the person who will benefit you most

Creating a buyer persona lets businesses focus their marketing and be more productive. The fictional person embodies an ideal customer’s buying habits.

A good persona emerges from listening and engagement. With those elements in hand, business owners know how well their offerings are compatible with those who they hope to market.

“I have developed several buyer personas, but I haven’t formalized them,” said Ivana Taylor, reflecting where many businesses are in the process.

Taylor owns DIYMarketers, which is “committed to helping small business owners get out of overwhelm.” Her corporate mission includes leading companies down the persona path.

A solo entrepreneur, Dana Lemaster is a certified public accountant turned screenwriter and novelist, and junior marketer. Buyer personas are essential for channeling her writing.

“You often have more than one buyer persona, but you probably only have one ideal customer,” she said. “Buyer personas can reflect various types of customers and their needs.”

Lemaster and Taylor talked with Iva Ignjatovic, a marketing, strategy and business consultant, about the biggest challenges when creating buyer personas for small businesses.

According to HubSpot, using marketing personas made websites two to five times more effective and easier to use by targeted users.

“I don’t use a buyer persona but a client type,” Ignjatovic said. “It’s less formal and focused on real people.”

Lemaster noted that an ideal customer is different from a buyer persona.

“An ideal customer is a general description or profile,” Taylor said. “A buyer persona is a synthesis of your ideal customer all made into one representative person.”

Support From Fans

That person should be a devoted follower, which is crucial for selling on social media.

“While they are different, you begin with an ideal customer profile,” Ignjatovic said. “By developing that you get to the buyer persona.”

A small business will benefit greatly by having a buyer persona.

“Business staff can then keep their focus on customers and their needs,” Lemaster said. “Creating content or marketing is easier than if you think in terms of a generalized ‘customer.’”

Taylor explained that a buyer persona makes it easier to speak to one person in your marketing.

“With a good persona you can really weed out people who aren’t interested,” she said. “That can save you money.”

BoardView states that persona-based content increases customer engagement almost six-fold when targeting cold leads.

“Among other things, having a buyer persona can help businesses save time and resources,” Ignjatovic said. “It’s all about focusing on the most promising leads and markets.”

Businesses make common mistakes when trying to create a buyer persona.

“One of the biggest is basing the persona on what they want to see instead of on what data tells them,” Lemaster said. “Incomplete data can contribute to this. So can unrealistic expectations.”

Taylor admitted her biggest miscue is not formalizing a buyer persona and working with it daily.

As an aid, DIYMarketers has published, “The Simple Guide to B2B Buyer Persona Research.”

“Perhaps the most common mistake is failing to do adequate research,” Ignjatovic said. “There are no shortcuts.”

One Out of Many

There are also big challenges when creating buyer personas.

“It’s really difficult to create one person out of so many different individuals,” Taylor said.

To learn more about your target market, business-to-business buyer persona research is one way to do it. The DIYMarketers guide shows how to get started.

“It’s difficult to understand buyers, their needs, triggers and motivators,” Ignjatovic said.

To create a buyer persona, Lemaster suggests starting with your target audience and building from there.

“The best way is to really understand your ideal customers’ demographics, psychographics, interests and profiles so that you can create a persona,” Taylor said.

“My friend, business consultant David Newman, has a great video on this,” she said. “He imagines his persona sitting at their desk and imagines what he sees.”

For more analysis, businesses could look into their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

“Keep it simple,” Ignjatovic said. “Personas should be built around one problem or opportunity. Focus on their needs and how your product solves their problem.”

There might be a question about creating the right persona.

“Your numbers are going to be the best barometer of success,” Lemaster said. “It may take time for you to recognize how success reflects in your numbers as well as the time frame involved.

“Often, people focus on target audiences,” she said. “However, targeting one group means you’re not targeting others.”

The bottom line will give your first scorecard.

“If you create personas and use them in your marketing, but you still aren’t connecting and converting, you have to adjust,” Taylor said.

Meet and Beat Goals

Based on information from Marketing Insider Group, 93 percent of companies that exceed lead and revenue goals segment their database by buyer persona.

“I would like to introduce the elimination process,” Ignjatovic said. “I prefer to understand who I don’t want to target.”

According to Taylor, a buyer persona should include these elements:

  • Name
  • Background
  • Interests
  • Challenges
  • Pains
  • Frustrations
  • Anything you think will help you with your marketing

DIYMarketers has a post, “How to Create Winning Audience Personas Now.”

Ignjatovic’s key persona traits include demographics, pain points, motivators — anything that would align business, marketing and sales efforts.

Asking the right questions will help define a customer persona.

“What will consistently add value for this customer?” Lemaster said. “A second question — which can be related to the first — is, What are the pain points for this customer?”

Taylor favorite questions for business owners flow from one to another:

  • What’s important to you when people are buying what you are selling?
  • Why is it important?
  • What is it about this person that should make them choose you?

Overall, a small business can use a buyer persona to improve marketing efforts.

“The biggest benefit of a buyer persona is that it helps you speak to a single person,” Taylor said. “This makes your marketing much more accessible and engaging.”

For Ignjatovic, a buyer persona can help small businesses create highly targeted content marketing strategies.

“Business personas can be used to get a fresh perspective on existing marketing strategies,” Lemaster said. “Pinpoint areas where a company might benefit from adjustments.”

About the Author

Jim Katzaman is a manager at Largo Financial Services and worked in public affairs for the Air Force and federal government. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.


This article is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be considered financial advice. You should consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.