In this article:
- The origin story of the buyer persona
- What is a buyer persona?
- Why is the buyer persona important for marketing & sales?
- What can the buyer persona be used for?
- What should a buyer persona include?
- How many buyer personas should you create?
- 49 buyer persona questions for a complete buyer persona profile (demographics, psychographics, buying behaviour, online behaviour, offline behaviour)
- Buyer persona by generation (Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z)
- Buyer persona tools (where to find insights, how to gather them)
- Buyer Persona Example
The origin story of the buyer persona
It is a sunny afternoon in Monterey, California; the year is 1985. On the beautiful, old Del Monte golf course, golf players in white coloured shirts and khakis are striking the small white balls with large elegant swings, and metal golf clubs glistening in the sun.
The serene scenery is interrupted by a wide-gesturing man entering the golf course. Not a golf player, he is speaking aloud as if in conversation with someone. Who? No one knows. Some golfers watch him with a confused look until he goes out of sight behind the green hills.
The man is Alan Cooper, a successful project management developer. Despite what anyone might think, he is not talking to a ghost and he is not losing his mind. He is play-acting a project manager loosely based on a real person. You see, while working on a project management program called PlanIt, Alan felt that the only way he could build a great product was to interview several people who were likely candidates for it.
One of the people Alan talked with at length was Kathy who worked for an advertising agency. She became the world’s first user persona and Alan, its creator. PlanIt was a success and years later became the model for Project, one of Microsoft’s leading products. You can learn more about Alan’s story in his book ‘The Inmates Are Running the Asylum’ (1998).
This is the origin story of the buyer persona as narrated by Alan himself, we hope you enjoyed it.
What is a buyer persona?
Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customer.
They are based on the following:
- real data about customer demographics & online behaviour
- educated speculation about their personal histories, motivation, and pain points
Why is the buyer persona important for marketing & sales?
Buyer personas are one of the hallmarks of marketing and sales.
They are important thanks to their ability to guide and help marketers and salespeople make informed decisions on marketing and sales strategies.
What can the buyer persona be used for?
We create buyer personas to:
- Develop content
- Write landing pages/website/campaigns
- Understand the buyer’s journey
- Attract & convert more leads
- Increased ads effectiveness
- Leverage the potential for multiple influencers of the journey
- Create successful marketing campaigns
What should a buyer persona include?
Your buyer persona should include answers to 5 categories of questions:
- buying behaviour,
- online behaviour,
- offline behaviour.
How many buyer personas should you create?
It depends on the product/service you provide.
You can have one buyer persona or ten as long as there are relevant differences between them. As a rule of thumb, you should have one buyer persona per industry niche. This way you have a clear understanding of your customer, your core messages are relevant and on point, and you can do targeting and segmentation appropriately.
Remember that you have as many messages as you have buyer personas.
49 buyer persona questions for a complete buyer persona profile
Buyer Persona Demographics
- What is their age, gender, and family status?
- What is their job role/profession?
- Where do they live?
- Are they the decision-makers?
- Do they buy in bulk or per unit?
- Is seasonality a factor?
- What is their education level?
- What is their income level?
- What is the size of the company they work for?
- What is the industry they work in?
- What does their regular day look like?
- What are their top 3 favourite brands?
Buyer Persona Psychographics
Buyer persona psychographics includes insights into the psychological and emotional characteristics of buyers.
- What are their core values, and beliefs?
- Are they spending more time at work or at home?
- How is their life/work balance?
- What do they like to do for fun?
- Who are the people in their life that matter most?
- What kind of car do they drive?
- Which TV shows do they watch?
- What are their biggest challenges?
- What does success look like for them in their role?
- What keeps them up at night?
- What makes them stressed/anxious/joyful/happy?
- What are their struggles: functional, social, emotional?
- What is their desired outcome?
- What was their biggest success?
- What is their life’s dream?
- What are their wants vs needs?
- Where do they see themselves 5 years from now?
- What is their main regret?
Buyer Persona Buying Behaviour
- What motivated you to search for this product/service in the first place?
- What challenges were you facing that led you to consider this product/service as a solution?
- How did you first hear about our company/product/service?
- What factors influenced your decision to choose our product/service over others?
- What criteria did you use to evaluate the options available to you?
- Was there a specific feature or benefit of our product/service that was most important to you?
- How did you feel during the buying process?
- Was there anything that almost stopped you from making the purchase?
- What would have made the buying process easier for you?
- What recommendations or advice would you give to someone considering purchasing our product/service?
Buyer Persona Online Behaviour
- Where do they search for information?
- What is their preferred social media?
- Are they active in groups? Where?
- What is their preferred means of communication?
- What type of content format do they prefer?
Buyer Persona Offline Behaviour
- Where do they hang out with their friends?
- Do they belong to professional groups?
- Are they active in groups? Where?
- Where do they go on weekends?
Buyer Persona by Generation
Generation X or Gen Xers (1965 to 1980):
- are looking for discounts and loyalty programs
- buy products that are unique and high-quality
- grew up before Amazon and the online shopping experience; however, they have now fully embraced e-commerce although they still enjoy an in-store shopping trip
- are known to conduct online research at home and then shop in person
- known to be very loyal customers
- moved by nostalgia-based marketing.
Generation Y or Millennials (1981 to 1995):
“The Millennial Mindset: How They Spend, Live, and Work” report by Goldman Sachs highlights the following findings:
- value experiences over possessions
- prioritize spending on travel, dining out, and other activities that create memories
- are more likely to purchase from brands that align with their values and are transparent about their social and environmental impact
- have a different approach to work, seek a better work-life balance and have more flexibility than previous generations
- are highly connected to technology and rely on social media and peer reviews to inform their purchasing decisions.
- are more diverse and inclusive than previous generations, and this diversity influences their preferences and priorities.
Generation Z or Gen Zers (1996 to 2009):
- rely on their tech savvy and extensive social networks to make informed purchasing decisions
- look at their purchasing decisions as an expression of their values and identity
- value personalized products, and they are drawn to brands that share their point of view on political issues
- spend more money than Millennials
- making money and having a successful career are the two most universally important life goals for Gen Zers
Buyer Persona Tools
Where to find buyer persona insights:
- Think with Google
- SparkToro, Buzzsumo, Ahref, Answer the Public, Insights Finder by Google
- Social media groups
- Government sites
- Industry reports
How to gather buyer persona information:
- Surveys and quizzes
- Interviews with your sales executives and customer care executives
Buyer Persona Example
Emily is a second-year college student majoring in psychology. She comes from a middle-class family and is the first person in her family to attend college. Emily is passionate about mental health and wants to pursue a career in therapy. However, she often feels overwhelmed and stressed by her academic workload and struggles with anxiety and depression.
- To manage her stress, anxiety, and depression so she can focus on her studies and achieve good grades
- To find ways to improve her mental health and well-being
- To become more confident in herself and her abilities
Needs and Wants:
- A supportive and non-judgmental community that understands what she’s going through
- Access to resources and tools that can help her manage her stress and anxiety, such as breathing exercises, mindfulness activities, and therapy
- A mobile app that is easy to use and fits into her busy schedule
- Personalized guidance and recommendations that are tailored to her specific needs and goals
- Feeling alone and isolated in her struggles with mental health
- Difficulty finding affordable and accessible resources for mental health support
- Feeling overwhelmed and unsure about how to manage her symptoms
- Frustration with the stigma surrounding mental health issues
- A desire to succeed academically and achieve her goals
- A passion for mental health and helping others
- A belief that she can overcome her struggles with the right support and tools
- Emily’s peers, who she spends a lot of time with and can relate to her experiences
- Her professors, who she looks up to as mentors and role models
- Mental health professionals and advocates inspire her to pursue her career goals and prioritize her mental health.