Here’s How to Build Buyer Personas (and Why You Need Them)

A mother and her son enjoying a sunny day at the beach

What’s a buyer persona, anyway?

You’ve probably heard that term floating around a lot, but do you actually know what a buyer persona is, how it’s constructed, and why it’s an important element of a smart marketing campaign? If you’re familiar with the concept but fuzzy on the details, pull up a chair. Let’s dig in

Also known as customer avatars, buyer personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They’re created based on market research, data analysis, and real customer insights. These personas represent the common needs, preferences, motivations, and pain points of your various customer segments. They usually have a name and a (stock) photograph to represent them, and ideally, when you create your marketing strategy, it’s a form of one-on-one communication that seeks to empathize with that “person.”

Every buyer persona is created uniquely for a particular brand, but they all share some commonalities as a foundation, including:

  • Demographics: These include factors like age, gender, location, occupation, income level, education, and other relevant demographic information.
  • Goals and Motivations: What drives your customers to seek your types of products or services? Are they motivated by aspiration, a feeling of belonging, or even by fear? Understanding what drives them to hit the “Buy Now” button is invaluable, especially when you can use that information to truly empathize.
  • Challenges and Pain Points: This involves an examination of the issues your ideal customers face and the challenges they see as obstacles to purchase. It could be something physical like budget or distance, or something psychological like fear of trying a new technology, social media burnout, or feeling like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Whatever your customers’ pain points are, you can use your marketing tactics as reassurance, confidence, or whatever else they seek.
  • Behavior and Interests: This includes information about how customers behave online and offline, as well as their hobbies and interests.
  • Buying Preferences: Are your ideal customers online shoppers, or do they prefer handling merchandise before buying it? Are they willing to shop from a social media platform? Understanding how and where your customers prefer to make purchases can inform not only your marketing messages, but also sales and distribution strategies.
    Communication Preferences: Knowing which channels and formats resonate with customers enables businesses to effectively engage and communicate with them.

This is the hard part – collecting all of the relevant data. Creating a persona involves both quantitative (numbers) and qualitative (words) research and can include both first and second-person research.

To get the answers directly from your customers, you can conduct surveys, interviews, or focus groups, collaborate with your sales team to get their stories, or even take to social media to read comments and reviews. You can also form an online community where customers can discuss your products in an open forum.

For secondary research, things like industry reports and surveys, website and social media analytics, and even a competitor analysis can help round out the picture and fill in any gaps.

The good news is you don’t have to try and boil down a pile of disparate data into one persona. If your analysis is showing several different types of customers, then create an avatar for each one. With those in hand, it can help target your marketing even more.

In a word, yes. Putting a “face” to your ideal customer creates a human connection that might otherwise be missed if you’re purely looking at data sets. It’s worth its weight in marketing gold to be able to speak to your customers directly about what their concerns are and answer them.

Once your buyer personas are complete, here are some ways to take full advantage of them:

  • Targeted Marketing: It goes without saying that understanding your customers’ needs and preferences makes it easy to tailor not only your marketing messages, but the channels on which they’re served.
  • Content Creation: Buyer personas are the heart and soul of content strategies – if they’re thorough, you may even find your marketing messages within those helping marketers create relevant and valuable content that attracts and engages their ideal customers.
  • Product Development: Although it’s only semi-related to marketing, having personas on hand and building products and services based on buyer personas’ preferences ensures better alignment with customer expectations.
  • A Customer-Centric Approach: By focusing on the needs and desires of specific buyer personas, you can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty throughout the entire customer journey.

The basic rules are the same, but as with anything that deals with a niche customer base, there are some unique situations to consider. As a luxury brand, it’s important to also put these extra factors into play:

  • Research and Data Collection: As a luxury brand, you may be in the fortunate position to collaborate with a market research firm to help you with data collection. A good agency can also create customer surveys, conduct focus groups and interviews, and scour social media for valuable insights. If you choose to work with a research firm, be sure that they’re also giving you insights into the consumer behavior patterns, spending habits, and lifestyle choices of affluent customers.
  • Niche Audience Segments: While many brands across the board often have diverse customer bases, that term is defined a little differently for luxury brands. In this case, the term diverse includes high-net-worth individuals, aspirational luxury buyers, and other specific groups. And although the basic data may be the same – a smaller audience means it may be harder to pin down.
  • Motivations and Values: Luxury consumers’ motivations often go beyond functional needs – they also seek emotional and experiential value in their purchases. It’s important to fully understand the emotional drivers behind their desires for exclusivity, status, and prestige, because those things are often what guide their decision-making process.
  • Lifestyle and Interests: Much like the larger audience segments, luxury customers will have diverse lifestyles and interests, but within a niche. Understanding how your customers live and how they play can help you tailor your marketing messages to align with those preferences. Consider studying travel habits, fashion choices, leisure activities, and other similar demographics when creating your personas.

Without a doubt, buyer personas play a vital role in aligning marketing strategies with the needs and preferences of your ideal customer. Leveraging this information as often as possible can work across the board to improve not only sales, but customer engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty.

Want help with the heavy lifting of creating your brand personas? Hawthorn Creative has an expert staff of digital strategists, creatives, and analysts who will work with you every step of the way.