How to identify and define your small business' ideal buyer persona

A key part of any business’s success is the ability to define and relate to its target market. After all, knowing who your audience are allows you to build a brand identity that they can relate to. We previously mentioned how targeted communications can be far more effective than generic messages sent to all your prospective customers. Targeting specific segments of your customer base through certain communications, offers, and displays will drive up sales and increase engagement.

So how do you know who to target with these specific messages? What do your customers want to hear, see, and be offered? That’s where defining ideal buyer personas comes in, and we’ll look at why it’s important and how to do it effectively.

Why should you define an ideal buyer persona?

Why does your business advertise? To attract customers, right? It’s pretty simple. And how do you attract customers? By offering them something that they want, of course. And how do you know what they want? This is where buyer personas come in.

Obviously, your customers are going to want your products. But how do you make them want your products? Even if you’re selling essential products or services that everyone needs, why would they choose you over the competition? You need to offer the most attractive proposition as part of your brand identity. And different brands will appeal to different people for different reasons. So what does your target market like?

There likely won’t be a straightforward answer to this question because your customer base will be made up of a mix of people—but there may be some key demographics. If you sell children’s toys, for example, you’ll want to attract children to your products. But who actually buys the toys? The parents. So your brand identity needs to appeal to both.

Knowing what your audience want starts with knowing who your audience are. This information shapes the messages you send out into the world. And you want as much of this information as possible before you start defining your brand.

Why not start with a message and tweak it until you find what works? Cost. The further down the road you get of having a defined brand, with marketing material, values, and slogans, the more difficult and expensive it is to change any of this. In other words, the earlier into a project you are, the more flexibility you have. Changing your logo when you’ve already ordered a sign with it on is far more expensive than changing the brief to the designer, and that itself costs more than giving them the correct brief in the first place!

In short, you define your ideal buyers so that you know exactly who you’re aiming to attract with your brand. This is illustrated by the engagement rates of personalized advertising. Targeted email campaigns have been shown to be 75% more likely to be opened than generic messages. Likewise, 71% of consumers appreciated personalisation in advertising, and almost half cited the fact that personalisation acts as a filter for them to ascertain what’s spam and what’s worth their attention.

Creating buyer personas can also illustrate markets that a business may not be reaching, which can highlight great opportunities for growth. If your business produces a products for men that women could also use, broadening your appeal could double your customer base!

How to create ideal buyer personas

Now that we’ve established why it’s worthwhile getting to know your target market, we’ll look at how you can define the individuals that make it up so that you can focus your marketing efforts.

Gather information on your loyal existing customers

The first step is to find out more about those people who are already buying your products and services. You may have to be mindful of data protection regulations here, so getting explicit permission to record and store customer data might be necessary. With that said, try to discover as much as possible about your customers’ lives, likes and dislikes, habits, hobbies, and more. You want to understand what they value so that you can use this information to create advertising and messages that resonate with them.

Compile and compare the information

Having interviewed your customers, look for trends in the data. Perhaps a whole segment of your target market consists of women in their thirties who enjoy seaside holidays. These are the sort of similarities which will form the basis of your personas. Don’t get too hung up on finding traits that fit every single person in a given group. If there are a handful of your thirty-something women who don’t holiday at the beach, that’s not a problem if the other 90% do. You just want to get a feel for what a typical person in this group might look like.

Go into detail with your new personas

Once you have an idea of what one of your average buyers looks like, drill down into as much detail as possible. Can you pin down what their income might be or what their goals are? The more you understand the template you’ve created, the better. Think about what advertisements and offers might appeal to this person and use this information to hone your offering. Share topics they might be interested in and continue getting to know them.

Keep track of how your ideal buyer personas perform

It’s not enough to make a template, write ads that you think will appeal to them, and leave it at that. Track your business’s performance and compare it to what you expected. Is your mid-thirties woman segment performing as you’d want it to? If so, great! How can you do more to engage with them and drive further loyalty and sales?

If the numbers aren’t as high, perhaps that persona needs a bit more work. Look at the assumptions you’ve made, engage with your customers, and challenge the template. It may take a few iterations before you get it right, but once you know your target market and have defined the ideal buyer personas that make it up, you’ll be in a far better place to make your business’s brand identity an attractive proposition.

About the author

Jake Waller is a wordsmith who plies his trade here at Findmyshift. He uses his background in engineering to simplify complex topics for a variety of tech firms. When not writing for Findmyshift he blogs under a pseudonym at My Name is Skylance and has a passion for creative writing and editing, about which he's always talking on Twitter.