Building a buyer persona for marketing is much like developing a character for a novel or a movie—the difference is that you’re not really making anything up from scratch! Your buyers already exist. You’re just defining the specifics as a single, “average” person.
When you first sit down to work on persona development, it can be a little intimidating to stare at that blank sheet! To help, we’ve come up with a very useful tool for defining personas that we’ve used successfully with a number of clients. The Persona Development Tool is a template that guides you through the process of creating a buyer persona, setting up questions to help you describe your ideal buyer. It’s a basic format, allowing you to make it as simple or as complex as your needs require.
We’ve filled out a couple of examples to help you understand how to use the template. For our examples, we used the personas of a mortgage broker and a loan processor, which we used in our work with Ellie Mae—a leading developer of software for the mortgage industry.
We like to start by giving our imaginary person a name and supplying a (stock) photo. This really helps make this persona feel real, allowing us to more easily endow him or her with skills, experience, education, thoughts, and feelings.
The Profile Overview
In the overview, imagine that you are telling a friend about this person. Is it a man or woman? About what age? What’s his role? How does she spend her workday? Depending on your product or service, you may want to look at different kinds of attributes. The goal here is to build up a solid picture of this person that everyone can recognize.
What does your prospect worry about? What does she wish she could change? Be sure to create your list from the prospect’s point of view.
These are the issues that mean the most to this person: the things that are behind every decision he makes, with particular emphasis on issues relating to your product/service.
Role in the Buying Committee
Is this person the decisionmaker? An influencer? Who might influence this person?
What kind of content and information is most effective in communicating persuasively with this person? Are there particular kinds of information he is most likely to want? Is any one kind of media more effective than another? Is she likely to take advantage of any particular kinds of offers?
Buying Stage Table
This simple grid makes it easy to see how your messaging needs to change based on your prospect’s stage in the buying cycle. First, you define your persona’s motivation at each stage and what questions are being asked at that point. Then, you look at the right messages and value propositions that should be communicated at that stage, and what medium is best.
Working Through the Exercise
Persona development is a fascinating exercise to do with your team. You’ll discover all kinds of new ideas and insights as you think about each facet of your buyer’s personality.
Next time, we’ll discuss using the personas you’ve created to help with database segmentation.