No matter how great your product or service is, selling it successfully requires above all that you define your target market with laser focus.

And whatever line of business you’re in, even if you’re a B2B company, you’ll be selling to other human beings. So you need to know exactly who they are, where they are, why they would want to buy from you and the main problems you’re going to solve for them.

Creating a detailed buyer persona, also sometimes called a customer avatar, is a great way to flesh out what you know, or think you know, about your target customers, and to sharpen your marketing campaigns as required.

What is a Buyer Persona

To create an effective buyer persona you need to paint as detailed a picture as possible of your imaginary perfect customer; that’s to say the person for whom your offer is ideally suited, and who is therefore more likely to buy from you than anyone else.

Start with the basics. Is your persona male or female; how old are they, what is their occupation and income, are they married or single, with kids or without?

As odd as it may seem, it may help to bring your persona to life if you also give him or her a name.

All these things are important, but the exercise becomes more useful and more interesting when you look beyond these external characteristics and get as far into the mind of your target as you can.

You need to know what interests and motivates them; the dreams that inspire them and the fears that keep them awake at night.

What are their principal frustrations in the workplace, their worries at home, their ambitions for themselves and their families?

If it’s relevant for your products or your brand (and these days it usually will be) you can also consider your persona’s social and ethical values and perhaps even their politics.

Finally, you should ask yourself what objections your persona might raise when confronted with your sales message. Why might they resist buying from you? How can you pre-emptively address these concerns in your marketing materials?

How to Create Your Buyer Persona

Creating an accurate picture of your target customer is to some extent an imaginative and intuitive exercise. So a simple brainstorming session with your team can be a great place to start.

But there are also some concrete, practical steps which will help focus and refine your initial ideas.

If you are an existing business, you can survey your recent customers to find out more about them, but all businesses should research their competitors’ websites. There are a number of online services which will give you some very useful information about the demographics of their visitors.

You can also check out the comments on their blog and Facebook Page. Look at their Twitter followers and find out who else they’re following. See what they’re motivated to tweet about and consider what it tells you about them.

If you can, try to work out the books and magazines they’re reading, the other websites they’re visiting and the events they like to attend.

Remember that you’re trying to nail down the things which distinguish your ideal prospect from everyone else, and to steer away from generalities such as “likes coffee in the morning”.

How to Use Your Buyer Persona

By now you should have a very clear mental picture of your ideal customer; so clear that you can easily imagine talking with them as you would with an old friend.

So it’s time to start making use of this persona in crafting your marketing materials.

You can consider which paid advertising and social media platforms your target is likely to be found on, and the type of direct advertising to which they will be most responsive.

If you’re using content (inbound) marketing, should you be focusing more on your blog, or on producing videos or infographics?

In all cases, your ads and other content, including any follow up e-mail campaigns, can be much more accurately targeted when created with your persona firmly in mind.

Your ideal buyer is also a great starting point when you are considering creating a new product or substantially revising an existing one.

Parting Thought

Creating an accurate buyer persona will take time and careful research, but experience suggests that the work will provide a handsome return on investment through more effectively targeted marketing.