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Buyer Personas will transform your marketing strategy. Here’s how.

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Every business, regardless of its niche, needs to know and understand its customer base. After all, how else do you know who to sell to?

One of the best ways to understand your customer reach is to create buyer personas. A buyer persona represents your perfect customer based on their demographics, lifestyle and goals. Strong buyer personas are created using hard data and insights gained from customer survey responses.

You can and should create numerous buyer personas based on hard data that tells you who your existing customer base is. These personas help inform your marketing efforts and fuel your success so you can connect, influence and persuade your ideal clientele.

Follow these four tips for creating buyer personas and incorporating them into your business marketing.

Related: The science of building buyer personas

Start with the data

Before segmenting your audience into different categories or creating fictional personas to represent your customers, review the data to make sure you really understand your customer base. Both qualitative and quantitative data are important!

Start with quantitative data. Dive into transaction histories and customer demographics, including how many and how regularly customers buy and interact with your business. Age, gender, location, career, purchasing power and customer loyalty are all essential data points to collect from existing customers.

You also want to collect qualitative data, mainly in the form of feedback, through customer surveys or reviews. Information about your existing customers’ goals, desires, and hobbies will help inform the persona you develop later.

Sorting the data eventually yields tons of raw data that you have to organize in spreadsheets to identify patterns. Many companies offer templates that make this easier, or you can do it yourself in a spreadsheet. Working with a third party to organize the data can identify patterns that you may not notice at first glance.

Related: Buyer personas: what they are, why they matter and how best to build one

Find patterns and create categories

Collecting and organizing large amounts of raw data is often the most challenging aspect of building buyer personas. Once you have collected and collected your data, patterns will emerge.

As you divide your data into different groups, your “raw concept” personas will take shape. At this point, you’re probably aware of a specific customer demographic, so start with a character that the data shows most clearly. Once they’re deleted, continue to separate potential personas within the remaining data. You look for massive data overlap and agreements to group customers.

Depending on the size of your company, you aim for different buyer personas. Try to focus on the most important customer groups to compose the rough outlines of different personas, and don’t get too bogged down in small details. If specific buyer personas are a much bigger part of your business than others, keep in mind that this is related to your marketing efforts.

Related: 6 proven business marketing strategies to grow during a recession

Build a story

Now comes the fun part of building buyer personas: get creative! To understand the different groupings you’ve organized from data, you’ll need to create a single, fictional character to represent them. This also helps others in your company (for example, the sales or marketing team) to quickly get a sense of who the customer is.

If one of your data groups is made up of millennial women who care about the environment, you can create a character to represent this persona. Make up a full background and personality for the persona based on your data (ie she’s 29, she lives in San Francisco, she likes yoga twice a week, she has a dog, she recycles, etc).

Understanding this buyer persona as a human being rather than a collection of raw data makes it easier to create marketing materials that convince this customer base. When creating a new campaign, your marketers should think, “Will this appeal to the persona?”

Related: How leaders should use consumer insights to guide decision-making and improve the customer experience

Design a marketing strategy

The final stage of developing successful buyer personas is incorporating them into your marketing strategy. Introduce your sales and marketing team to the personas you’ve created so they match your company’s specific audiences.

When coming up with new strategies, think about your buyer personas first. Which social media platforms do they use? Make sure you post to the correct platforms for each persona (Gen Z buyer personas won’t show up on Facebook, for example). How do they prefer to take in content and how do they deal with it? (Do they scroll past photos?) What kind of language do they use? (Be careful not to use outdated jargon in your copy). You can even create several specialized landing pages for unique buyer characters.

Remember to track data as it evolves and note which campaigns are working as you adapt to target new buyer personas. Updated lessons should be incorporated into your existing buyer personas, and over time you may need to phase out or create new personas as your business changes.

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