Developing a Strong Buyer Persona

You can’t speak compellingly to potential customers or clients unless you know exactly who they are. Different demographics have different worldviews, different ideas, different problems, different concerns, different interests, different motivations, different goals, different intellectual and emotional triggers, and all sorts of other different stuff going on.

The one thing all great marketing has in common is that it directly engages one or more of these specific characteristics in a carefully targeted audience. And usually, it’s not something broad, like they all like saving money. Who doesn’t? It’s something focused and particular to a clearly defined group.

Buyer Persona as Part of the Web Design Process (And No, It Won’t Cost You)

We’re not suggesting you have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on market research. Obviously, that’s not practical—or necessary—for most small to medium businesses.

As part of our branding and web design process, we just like to have a conversation with our clients to nail down a fictitious buyer persona that captures their core target audience. It allows us to proceed with our web design and development work with a clear idea of who we’re talking to.

That doesn’t mean your site will lack mass appeal, which is a common fear of business people. It simply means your site will be particularly appealing and persuasive to the people who would most benefit from your products or services. And that’s the secret to developing a website that converts visitors into sales.

Why Develop a Buyer Persona?

Creating a solid, detailed buyer persona is key to understanding your target market and finding appropriate angles for appealing to them. Taking the time to develop one offers a number of benefits. For example, it:

  • Provides a clear understanding of who you’re addressing
  • Serves as an easy point of reference to guide web design and marketing efforts
  • Helps generate creative marketing ideas
  • Offers insights into how you might alienate potential fans
  • Spotlights intellectual and/or emotional triggers for compelling marketing
  • Identifies target audience “pain points” and needed solutions
  • Reveals the best mediums and channels for reaching your target market
  • Helps you construct a compelling brand story

What Should a Buyer Persona Include?

A genuinely useful buyer persona answers 9 questions with specific, concrete, not overly broad information as it pertains to your goods or services. These are the questions we work through with our clients to help form a highly effective web design and development strategy.

1. What are this persona’s objectives? 

Identify what your target audience needs to accomplish that you can help them with. Something broad like “losing weight” isn’t specific enough. Do they need to exercise more? Do they need to better control  their appetite? Do they need to make healthier food choices? 

2. What problems prevent this persona from achieving their objectives? 

Pinpoint what stands between your target market and their goals. Again, go beyond the most obvious answers. Maybe they lack the motivation to exercise, but why? Do they not know the benefits of physical activity or the dangers of inactivity? Are they embarrassed by the prospect of working out in front of others at a gym? 

3. What prevents this persona from proceeding with an appropriate solution? 

Everyone faces obstacles to conquering problems and reaching goals. Figure out which ones confront your target audience, hindering their progress or ability to make decisions. Are they overwhelmed by too much conflicting information about healthy eating? Are they surrounded by people or circumstances that facilitate poor lifestyle choices? 

4. What questions does this persona ask while looking for a solution?

Your target audience needs certain information to make decisions and move toward overcoming obstacles and achieving objectives. What is this information? Do they need to be convinced of the safety and efficacy of an appetite suppressant or a particular diet approach? Do they understand how it would affect their daily life?

5. What personality traits can be ascribed to this persona?

Noting some personality traits generally shared by your target market allows you to develop a brand voice and messaging they can relate to. Are they trying to find their confidence? Do they struggle with impulse control? Are they frustrated by a lack of time to find the information and solutions they want?

6. What keywords and phrases resonate with this persona?

This isn’t about describing your product or service. And while it has SEO implications for your web design and digital marketing, it’s also about creating relevance for your target audience. Find core terminology that clearly and simply captures one or more of the answers to the first four questions above, as well as how this persona might search for this information.

7. What will convert this persona to a sale?

Map out ways to capture your target market’s attention, hold it, and compel them to take action. This doesn’t mean designing ad campaigns. It’s larger, outlining what sort of conversations will engage the persona, who they would like to have these conversations with, and where they would like to have these conversations. How can you best reach and engage this persona? 

8. What are the best channels for reaching this persona?

Determine where your target market goes for information. Are they avid social media users, and if so, which sites are they most active on? Is a particular category of magazine or blog beloved by this persona? Even better, can you identify specific popular magazines or blogs? Have they transitioned primarily to their mobile devices?

9. What is a typical day like for this persona? 

Weave the answers to the first three questions into a brief account of what your target audience struggles with and tries to accomplish in a typical day. The more specific you were with those answers, the more accurate this narrative will be, and the more insights you’ll gain from it. It’s helpful to even write it in first person to get a better handle on this persona’s perspective.

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