A lot has been said about why you need to build a buyer persona for your business. Knowing who your customers are and how your product/service solves their problems is the foundation of any good growth plan.
Great buyer personas help keep you grounded and informs a lot of your growth decisions, from prioritizing product features to develop to what keywords to target in a SEM campaign.
But starting from scratch can often be intimidating. Here are some of my favorite articles on the topic of building a great buyer persona and I revisit these often as we tweak and refine our personas at Paubox.
The Ideal Customer Profile Framework
It may seem odd, but before you start to build a buyer persona, Lincoln Murphy at Sixteen Ventures recommends you start with his Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) first.
The difference between an ICP and a persona is that the ICP is who your ideal customer is, not who your current customers are. In other words, in an ideal world who would benefit the most from your product/service. Which means you’re not trying to be everything to everyone.
Although there’s no one universal definition of an ICP, it is specific to:
- The situation you’re solving for
- Your goal
- Your capabilities
The total ICP framework is outlined here and there’s a lot of free supplemental material too.
Start with a Mimimal Viable Persona
Now that you have the ICP set up, where do you start in building your buyer persona?
You may be relieved to know you don’t have to go crazy off the bat, but can start with a minimal viable persona.
Anyone who knows the Lean Startup method is familiar of the minimal viable product as a way to quickly get out a product/service in order to learn and improve it based on actual data and feedback.
The minimal viable persona (MVP) is no different. It helps you quickly cut to the chase and build a buyer persona that you can work with.
The article shows you how to create a MVP by:
- Assessing brand positioning in your market
- Identifying gaps in your customer data
- Templating an email survey invitation to get customer insight
- How to create that survey
- Using insights to optimize your marketing channels
- Combing traction channels to build brand awareness
- Turning early adopters into evangelists
Although the post is geared towards using the MVP to build brand, you’ll easily be able to see all the potential use cases with the insights you get from a minimal buyer persona.
Continue to build a buyer persona with research
So you have a working MVP, but don’t stop there. Just like you’re always testing and refining your campaigns, you need to optimize your buyer persona.
This post from SumoMe shows that you can get insight into your ideal customer and expand your minimal viable persona from doing online research – specifically voice of customer research.
The best part is this research is free.
The post outlines three ways to do research:
- Dig into online reviews
- Stalk a few forums
- Analyze testimonials, interviews and complaints
You’ll even get a bonus with an example of how to apply the research you just did to start optimizing conversions.
Like all SumoMe posts (and posts I share here), you’ll be able to take immediate action from what you read, so be sure to take notes!
Use data to deepen your personas
Everyone in SaaS is using buyer personas incorrectly.
That bold statement came from the team at Price Intelligently, which is the go-to blog for anything related to SaaS pricing (and included in the Growth List of course).
So how you should use that great buyer persona you’re building? The team at Price Intelligently doesn’t leave you hanging, and gives you steps and instruction on what to do:
- Quantify your buyer personas
- Deepen those personas into your problem areas
- Determine the best fix and implement fast
- Iterate, iterate, iterate
That last point can’t be emphasized enough.
Your buyer personas are a living view of your customers and you should always be refining, segmenting and changing them as needed.
Now it’s your turn
Do you have any content that’s your go-to on building a buyer persona? Let me know in the comments below.