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One of the most important tools that you have as a marketer or public relations person is a knowledge of your target audience. Having a thorough working knowledge of your the people who are interested in your product, business or service allows you to develop content that is especially impactful for them, whether that is in the form of providing answers to their questions or custom solutions that help them to answer or solve a toothache.

So how does a buyer persona fit into this?

You may have a general idea of who is in your target audience based on target demographics and some psychographic research. But you shouldn’t stop there. The next step is to create a buyer persona. In other words, a description of your ideal customer in plain terms. Here is an example of one I just wrote about one set of customers for Stouffer’s family meals (think their lasagnas, family enchilada packs etc).

[READ MORE: The basics of building demographic & psychographic profiles]

Working mothers looking for quick home-style meals. These buyers typically have elementary or middle school-aged children, who are looking for quick solutions for meal ideas. It is still incredibly important for these women that the family eats together at dinnertime. These women are looking for foods that resemble items that they may be able to make at home if they had the time but are easily accessible and don’t have a lot of steps to take to put together. These buyers are on a budget but convenience sometimes takes precedence as long as the perceived quality is high.

[READ MORE: Segmenting your Target Audience]

What did the creation of this persona tell us?

The creation of that little paragraph tells us a lot about one of our target audiences, in this case, the working mother. Here’s just a sampling of what I’ve gleaned from that write-up:

  1. Lack of time is a toothache – messages that emphasize the ease of preparation and simplicity will likely be effective.
  2. They have small children – therefore the options presented should be kid-friendly.
  3. Guilt – many of these women may feel some small measure of guilt (whether they externalize it or not) and therefore, the positioning of these foods as “just as good as mom would make” will be helpful in convincing them that your product is a good solution.
  4. As these women are budget conscious, offering coupons may help to attract new customers or encourage current customers to try a new meal option.

…and I could keep going. But do you see how useful that is? I have taken the overarching target audience data that I’ve learned about and created picture in my head of WHO I am talking to. This picture otherwise known as a persona can be named and referred to as marketing materials are created, campaigns are developed and new marketing channels are explored.

Creating a buyer persona

The first step with any sort of target audience development is research. In this case, you will want to start with the information that you already have about your customers. Remember, your buyer persona is based on people who have already purchased things from you.

How do I find out info about my buyers?

That’s a great question. One of the easiest ways to get that information is to put together a survey. To get people to take your survey consider offering them discounts that they can use on their next visit to your business.

What you want to learn:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Lifestyle – hobbies, beliefs
  • Purchasing behaviors (how frequently do they visit your store, time of day etc)

Once you have that data about your buyers, you can begin writing your profiles. To help you out, here’s a template based on the example I posted above.

Template – [Brief description of your target audience goes here]. These buyers typically (insert common trait), who are looking for (what is their need). It is still incredibly important for (what is important to them). These (what is the ideal solution that they are looking to be presented with). These buyers are on (what are their financial considerations?) but (how can these hang ups / considerations be overcome?). (any other relevant facts – do they have a preference on how they consume their media for example – social, print, TV?)

You’ll want to write as many of them as are applicable – you likely have more than one buyer personality that you are trying to reach.

Any other tips to keep in mind for buyer personas? I’d love to hear them!


Further Reading on Buyer Personas

Create buyer personas to target customers 

Introduction to buyer personas 

Buyer Personas: 3 Tips for Keeping them Fresh & Alive (scroll midway through for a great template)