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October 14, 2013

What are buyer personas and why do you need them?

By Jessika Phillips

What are buyer personas, and why do you need them?

Imagine you are telling a funny story. Do you tell the story differently if you are telling it to your child’s teacher versus your best friend over drinks? I’m betting you do. You may even pick a different funny story altogether to tell.

Your child’s teacher is one persona; your best friend is another.

Now imagine you are telling a room full of people about your company’s products or services. Wouldn’t you want to know if the room is full of middle-aged female schoolteachers or blue-collar construction workers? Or twenty-something hipsters? Or the hipsters’ parents?

Without creating buyer personas, it’s like telling your company’s story to a room full of mannequins. A buyer persona lets you tailor your message to a specific person who represents a category of your customers.

How do you create a buyer persona?

At NOW Marketing, when we work with a new client, we start with a Discovery Q&A asking questions such as:

  • What problems does your business solve?
  • What are your primary goals?
  • What is your Unique Selling Proposition?

When we start talking about who your customers are and creating buyer personas, the fun really begins.

It’s important to make your buyer persona as real to you as possible. One way we do that with our clients is by using cardboard cutouts and filling them in with markers and sticky notes. We even give them names.

Some of the questions we ask when brainstorming about buyer personas are:

  • What’s their job level and seniority?
  • What does a day in their life look like?
  • What do they value most?
  • What are their most pressing problems?
  • How do those problems make them feel?
  • What are their most common objections to your product or service?

For example, a university client we were working with identified a persona we called Sally Social Worker. Sally wants to go to college to get a degree in social work. Her motivation in getting her degree is not to make a lot of money, but to give back to her community. She has strong emotional ties to her community and her family and has had a dramatic episode in her background that has propelled her to choose social work as her profession.

Sally is not going to be motivated to choose this university by a marketing message that touts how much money she is going to make after graduation. It may even actively turn her off.

On the contrary, a marketing message that focuses on internship opportunities and the chance to get hands-on experience working in the community while getting her degree would likely resonate with Sally Social Worker.

If you are ready to set-up buyer personas for your brand, download our buyer persona workbook to help you get started.

Or feel free to contact us at 877-380-6698.

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Tags: inbound marketing, buyer personas


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