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Ask SCORE: Creating buyer personas can aid marketing

Compiling demographic information about your buyers will only take you so far in understanding how to reach and what to say to your target customers.

By creating a “buyer persona” — a profile of a customer to represent a particular group of buyers — for each group of customers to whom you wish to sell your products and services, you’ll gain greater insight.

Buyer personas help you to drill down to the specifics of what motivates individual customers to buy and to identify which communications channels will give you an opportunity to connect with more of your prospects and customers.

Some of the most powerful benefits of creating buyer personas are:

» improving your marketing focus because personas bring to light the customers worth your time and marketing dollars;

» giving you insight to help you more effectively craft your marketing messaging;

» helping you to determine the best marketing channels and advertising venues to reach your ideal customers;

» enabling you to give your buyers a more personalized experience through the sales process; and

» saving money and improving sales because you’re not developing products and services to try to appeal to too broad of an audience. You have the insight you need to focus your development efforts on satisfying the needs of your ideal customers.

How do you create buyer personas for your small business? Here are a few steps to guide you on your way:

1. Consider what you know right now about your current customer base.

a. What characteristics do they have in common?

b. What are their demographics (age, gender, income, marital status, educational level, etc.)?

c. What do they do for a living?

2. Talk with your present — and past — customers.

a. What challenges do they face?

b. What goals and aspirations do they have?

c. How did they find you?

d. What made them want to use your products or services?

e. What do they like about you?

f. Why have they stayed with you rather than moving to the competition?

g. Why did they leave you and go to the competition?

3. Write your personas.

Present them as fictitious individuals who represent the typical traits and motivations belonging to your specific ideal customer groups.

Incorporate the information you know about them and create short stories about who they are, the challenges they face, their buying habits and what motivates their buying decisions. Many examples and templates can be found online for structuring buyer personas.

Various factors (including your industry and type of business) will affect the number of buyer personas you should have.

For additional guidance and input as you begin developing your customer profiles, consider talking with a SCORE mentor. SCORE volunteers have expertise in all aspects of starting and managing a small business, and they are there to offer free insight to help you through all stages of your company’s growth.


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