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Branding Business Strategy

Beyond Demographics: Building a Buyer Persona to Understand Your Customer

Tony Eades

An often-overlooked key to the success of any marketing strategy, from the content that you post on your blog to the email vouchers you send out from time to time, is your buyer persona.

Most marketing teams look at the demographics of their target audience; few go any deeper than the age, marital status, and income level of that audience. But a well-developed buyer persona is essential to quality lead generation: without one, you could be marketing to the wrong people.


When 71% of companies who exceed their revenue goals have buyer personas, versus only 26% of companies who miss their goals, it's easy to see that you have to understand your buyers in order to effectively market to them. Keep reading to find out 5 ways to create a buyer persona that really gets inside your customers' minds. 


Before we delve into those 5 awesome buyer persona creation tips, take a glance at the demographics of your target audience. Male or female, Millennial or Generation X, top-level executive or tiny business owner/operator... how much of that information affects the buyer's buying decisions?

The Content Marketing Institute lists having too much information as one of the biggest mistakes marketers make as they create their buyer personas. If you run a retail company, for instance, then gender will be an important demographic to consider, but not necessarily if you sell software. So make sure only to include those demographics that will really affect buyer behaviour, and don't worry about the rest. 


The best way to get into the minds of your buyers is to talk to your buyers. Conduct brief interviews with people who have purchased from you, and with people who haven't. Social media is another excellent venue for getting into your buyers' minds and understanding what drives them.

As you engage with consumers and clients, keep these 5 ingredients of a lead-generating buyer persona in mind:

  1. Occupation. As a B2B company, the job that your prospects do on a daily basis can really tell you a lot about how they respond to your marketing. Do they have enough time to read a 3,000-word white paper, or should you chunk the information into 300-word blog posts over the course of a few weeks? Are they in a position to make a buying decision for their company, or do they merely influence that decision? You don't have to create a separate buyer persona for every job title you market to but you should detail how your ideal buyer's job relates to your product or service, regardless of industry. 

  2. Information. Everyone prefers to gather information in their own way. Do your clients respond to a friendly voice and easily digestible information, or do they trust hard facts, case studies, and formal documentation? Find out where they get their information, whether it's from an industry institute's weekly newsletter or a competitor's blog, and use that to drive your content marketing. 

  3. Pain Points. Your product or service is designed to present a solution to a problem. But it's more difficult than you might think to determine exactly what that problem is. Get in-depth answers from your target audience about the pain points that they encounter on a daily basis, and build those answers into your buyer persona. While less is more when it comes to demographics, you need to write down even the slightest detail when it comes to your prospects' pain points -- you never know when you might be able to solve one. 

  4. Goals. Considering your target market's goals gives you a good way to connect on a human level, which you'll need to do if you plan on using social media as part of your inbound marketing strategy. Things like spending time with family, staying healthy and active, laughing more, losing weight, and retiring are all goals that drive people on a human level, regardless of their jobs. And these goals can influence buying decisions on a subtle level, especially when you market to the average consumer. 

  5. Motivations. Different groups of people are motivated by different things. Increasing revenue is a serious motivator for large corporations, but not-for-profit organisations are more concerned about raising awareness and simply finding funding. Is your target audience motivated by humour, sob stories, or cold hard fact? Understanding what motivates them to act turns leads into sales. 

Create two or three buyer personas of the ideal people you hope to market to -- and if it helps, name them. Get your marketing and sales teams comfortable with these personas, and let their pain points, goals, and motivations guide all of your marketing efforts.

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