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How Buyer Personas Can Transform Your Marketing and Get Results The right persona-building strategy can sharpen your messaging and maximize your brand's impact on buyers.

By Adam Petrilli Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Every business, regardless of its niche, should know and understand its customer base. After all, how else will you know who to market to?

One of the best ways to understand your range of customers is by creating buyer personas. A buyer persona represents your perfect customer based on their demographics, lifestyle and goals. Strong buyer personas are made using hard data and insights gleaned from customer survey responses.

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

Follow these four tips on 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 that represent your customers, you'll need to look at the data to ensure you truly understand your customer base. Both qualitative and quantitative data matter!

Start with quantitative data. Dig into transaction histories and customer demographics, including how much and how regularly customers purchase and engage with your business. Age, gender, location, career, purchase power and customer loyalty are all essential data points to gather from existing customers.

You'll also want to gather qualitative data, primarily 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 flesh out later.

Sorting through the data ultimately provides tons of raw data you'll need to organize into spreadsheets to identify patterns. Many businesses 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 help identify patterns you may not notice at first glance.

Related: Buyer Personas: What They Are, Why They Matter and How to Best Build One

Find patterns and create categories

Gathering and organizing mass amounts of raw data is often the most challenging aspect of building buyer personas. Once you've collected your data and assembled it, patterns will emerge.

As you separate your data into different groupings, your "rough draft" personas will take shape. At this point, you're likely aware of a specific customer demographic, so start with a character who seems most evident from the data. Once they're removed, continue separating potential personas within the remaining data. You're looking for mass data overlap and similarities to group customers together.

Depending on the size of your business, you'll be aiming for various buyer personas. Try focusing on the most significant customer groups to assemble the rough outlines of different personas, and don't get too bogged down in tiny details. If specific buyer personas make up a much more significant portion of your business than others, note this as it relates to your marketing efforts.

Related: 6 Proven Business Marketing Strategies to Grow During a Recession

Build a narrative

Now comes the fun part of building buyer personas: getting creative! To understand the different groupings you've organized based on data, you need to create a singular, fictionalized character to represent them. This also helps others within your business (the sales team or marketing team, for instance) to quickly get a sense of who the customer is.

If one of your data groupings is composed of millennial women who care about the environment, you might create a character to represent this persona. Come up with an entire background and personality for the persona based on your data (i.e., she's 29, she lives in San Francisco, she enjoys yoga twice a week, she has a dog, she recycles, etc.).

Understanding this buyer persona as a fully-fledged human rather than a collection of raw data will make it easier to craft marketing materials that persuade 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 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 that they're in tune with the specific audiences of your business.

When crafting new strategies, consider your buyer personas first. What social media platforms do they use? Make sure you're posting on the correct platforms for each persona (Gen Z buyer personas, for instance, aren't going to be on Facebook). How do they prefer to ingest and interact with content? (Do they scroll right past photos?) What type of language do they use? (Make sure you're not using outdated jargon in your copy). You can even craft different specialized landing pages for unique buyer personas.

Don't forget to track data as it evolves and note which campaigns work as you adapt to target new buyer personas. Updated learnings 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.

Adam Petrilli

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO & Founder,

Adam Petrilli develops and executes winning strategies while inspiring teams to embrace change to promote business excellence. He thrives during challenging situations and in making high-risk decisions with a strategic revenue-focused perspective to generate growth.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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