How to Create Buyer Personas You’ll Actually Use

If you’re a B2B marketer, buyer personas aren’t new to you. But you might have mixed feelings about their effectiveness.

Over the years, we’ve learned that marketers who have created buyer personas have typically had mixed experience with them. Either they have found personas incredibly helpful in aligning their marketing and sales teams on who their target market and decision-makers are; or they remember spending a lot of time creating them, only for no one on either team to ever reference them again.

If you relate to the latter, keep reading. In this blog, we’re telling you how to create buyer personas that you, your marketing team, and your sales team will actually use. It’s all about how you go about creating them, what’s included, and how you educate your teams on using them in the sales cycle.

What Is a Buyer Persona?

Real quick, for those who might be new to the concept: a buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal buyer based on data, interviews, and some educated guesses. It’s basically a definition of your ideal buyer presented in a way that sounds like it’s talking about a specific person.

Why Do I Need Buyer Personas?

Buyer personas are an easy tool that helps everyone in your company, specifically marketing and sales, understand your prospective customers. With different people strategizing on campaigns, creating content, nurturing leads, and following up with emails, it’s important that everyone is aligned on who they are talking to and what specifically they should be talking about that matters to the prospect.

The B2B sales cycle is more complex and much longer than B2C, with multiple decision-makers involved in the process. For example, a technology company that sells their software to hospitals likely needs to get buy-in from the hospital’s Chief Technology Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and perhaps someone from the clinical staff if the software impacts patient care. Each stakeholder cares about different things and needs to be “sold” in different ways. This is where your buyer personas come in.

How Do I Create Buyer Personas?

Creating buyer personas is a valuable exercise, but it doesn’t need to take up all your time.

  1. Understand your sales cycle thoroughly and all the people involved in the decision-making process
  2. Distill all the stakeholders down to the 2-5 most important stakeholders who are always involved
  3. Determine which bucket each falls into: Finance, Technology, Executive, Project Management, etc.
  4. Find an existing customer in each of these buckets who would be willing to talk with you
  5. Research each of bucket using LinkedIn or job sites to understand their key role and responsibilities

Ready for a pro-tip that might sound counterintuitive? Have your marketing agency handle this step! It can be incredibly difficult to rise above the details for your daily job and idea that “every sales situation is different” to distill your data down and find the common denominators needed to create personas. A marketing agency that creates personas for a living, will not only be able to serve as an objective resource when scanning your data, learning your sales cycle, and interviewing customers; it also uses proprietary tools and best practices to make your buyer personas more effective for everyone.

What’s Included in a Good Buyer Persona?

For a buyer persona to do its job of aligning your marketing and sales teams on your target audience and the distinct characteristics of major influencers in the buying process, they need these elements.

  • Fictional Name (e.g., Marketing Mary)
  • Roles/Titles
  • Geography
  • Key Responsibilities
  • Performance Metrics
  • Common Pain Points
  • Topics of Interest
  • What They Value in a Provider Like You
  • Watering Holes
  • Education & Experience
  • Social Media Channels

We often get asked, “Why do we need to give our personas a fake name?” This is a great question, and there are a few answers. Giving your personas a fictional name humanizes the profile. It also gives departments a standardized and memorable name to use when speaking about a specific audience.

How Should My Team Use Buyer Personas?

Buyer personas are created to be used. Too often, companies come to us frustrated that their team isn’t using the buyer personas that someone spent time creating. To these companies, we ask: Does your team know how buyer personas can be used to make their lives easier? Frequently, the answer is “no.”

The top three ways that your marketing and sales teams should be using your buyer personas are:

  1. To create content marketing topics and ideas
    As you develop content, use your personas’ Pain Points, Topics of Interest, and What They Value points as your first reference. You want to surround each persona with content that debunks any objections, connects through a common language, and reinforces how your company can help.
  2. To develop audiences in digital campaigns
    As you or your digital marketing agency execute paid advertising tactics, use the Roles/Titles, Geography, Education/Experience, and Social Media Channels from your buyer personas to inform the fields you choose when creating audiences in Google, LinkedIn, or Facebook.
  3. To teach new hires about your audience
    As your company grows and new people join your marketing and sales teams (and any other team for that matter!), use your Buyer Personas as orientation material to get them up to speed.

Final Persona Tips and Tricks

As a marketing or sales professional, you know the importance of adapting your offering and pitch to meet the changing needs of your customers and marketplace. The message that resonated one year ago might not apply today. As such, your buyer personas should be revisited every six months to one year. If you’re finding that no one is using your buyer personas, it could be that they’re just outdated.

We discussed the various ways that your buyer personas can inform your content and digital marketing strategy. In this new Checklist: Marketing Campaign Planning & Execution, you’ll find even more examples of how great buyer personas can supplement any strategic marketing campaign through:

  • Offers and landing pages
  • Lead-nurturing workflows
  • Blog posts
  • Paid search
  • Social media
  • Keywords

Learn more about using personas to inform your marketing campaigns and execution in this checklist. For questions or assistance with buyer persona development (remember, using your marketing agency to develop personas is a best practice), contact us.

Download Checklist