Creating a Buyer Persona: 5 Steps for Talking it Out

Creating a Buyer Persona: 5 Steps for Talking it Out

By Brianne Carlon RushJan 9 /2013

Creating buyer personas can be a real challenge. There are expensive, time-consuming routes you can take, including focus groups, and in no way am I discounting those. But sometimes just talking it out can be all you need. And who better to talk to than people who recently bought your product? They know what people are looking for, what challenges they face and what finally made them take the plunge.

Once you have interviewed several recent customers, and then interviewed some more, you are ready to get started. Here’s how.

4 Questions for Understanding Your Customers and Your Product

Who is your ideal buyer? Yes, the first step is that easy. Talk about who your buyer is like you would describe a friend and take notes. This does not mean write down demographics and move on. It means understanding what your buyer cares about, what a day in his life is like, how he likes to communicate, what his hobbies are and what drives him to make decisions. Sit down with your team and talk about the details that affect your consumers’ lives.

At Kuno Creative, we have a client called Kendal at Oberlin, a retirement community located in Oberlin, Ohio, for independent adults. After interviewing several current residents, here’s how I would define a likely candidate: John and his wife, Theresa, are retired but are not slowing down. They enjoy traveling, social engagements and physical activities that help them remain fit, and they don’t want to stop learning—ever. Their fear is feeling old, lonely and useless.  John and Theresa are not ignorant of technology—their grandkids got them an iPad for Christmas last year—but they prefer to communicate via phone or in person. Finally, John and Theresa do not want to deal with owning a home anymore: landscaping, paying utilities, cooking and cleaning are just not priorities these days. However, they do not want to give up their independence or living in Ohio where their family also resides.

There are a lot of factors in that one conversation, a lot of which help you understand what drives your buyers’ decision-making process. Your next step should include boiling down your buyers’ problem.

What is their need? John and Theresa want to sell their home and find a retirement community that is filled with life, instead of a nursing home for “old people.” They are not sure this option even exists.

When you get to the root of your persona’s problem, you can really target your marketing in an effective way. Do not skip this step.

How do we solve that problem? This is the step where you figure out why consumers should care about your product or service and what would intrigue them to check you out.

For example, our client provides a vibrant living community located in a college town for active older adults who are seeking independent living and also planning for future health care needs. Now Kendal at Oberlin needs to convince John and Theresa they are a perfect fit.

What is your unique value proposition? In this case, we are a retirement and long-term care community that encourages independence, lifelong learning and a social life without the hassle of owning a home.

What makes your business stand out? What makes your product or service different from your competitors? How does it solve your potential customers’ problems? Once you figure this out, you know how to start marketing.

Write out your persona using complete details. Give the persona a name (like John or Theresa) and include a picture to really help your team picture this persona as a real person.

Remember, each persona is different and will have a different buying cycle. In our current example, John and Theresa do not want to leave Ohio because that is where their family is located. Their buying experience will be different from Jacki’s, a single retired college professor who wants to move to a retirement community but does not want to give up that college-town vibe, so she is willing to move farther to obtain those goals.

Creating Content Using Your Persona

Now that you have your persona nailed down, you can start creating content that will attract your ideal buyer to your website, educate them and, ultimately, get them to buy. To accomplish these three goals, it is important to map your personas to your sales funnel. In our case, our first bit of content might look like this:

  1. We want to show there is an option for buyers like John and Theresa—we focus our top-of-the-funnel content (i.e., blogs and short videos or downloads) on lifelong learning and opportunities for older adults to remain active.
  2. The next step is to convince John and Theresa to look into this specific community—we provide middle-of-the-funnel downloads that talk about finances and audits and testimonials from current residents.
  3. Finally, we want to make the sale. We offer marketing-qualified leads a free one-sheeter titled “5 Reasons to Tour our Community” to download. A free tour of the energetic community is bound to close the deal.

While the process may take some time to complete, the targeted marketing opportunities you will unearth are well worth it to your team and your company’s bottom line.

What are your tips for developing buyer personas? What did we miss? Sound off in the comments below!


photo credit: marchasselbalch


The Author

Brianne Carlon Rush

Brianne works with Fortune 500 clients to strategize digital marketing efforts that help sales teams close deals faster. Additionally, she focuses on Kuno’s sales and marketing alignment and employee empowerment. Prior to Kuno, Brianne helped market OverDrive, the leading digital reading platform for libraries and schools, and was the youngest person to be promoted to managing editor position at MacFadden Performing Arts Media in NYC.