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How To Create Better Buyer Personas [Free Template]

A well-defined buyer persona—also called a customer persona, audience persona, or marketing persona—will help you target your ideal customer.

Colleen Christison June 6, 2024

As a kid, you may have had an imaginary friend. Social media marketers have them, too. Only, in our case, they’re called buyer personas or audience personas.

Unlike the ones from your childhood, these imaginary friends are an incredibly helpful tool for targeting your ideal customer.

As a social marketer (or any marketer, for that matter) it’s easy to get lost in the details of tracking your latest engagement rates and marketing campaigns.

Buyer personas remind you to prioritize your audience’s wants and needs over your own and help you create content that better targets your ideal customer.

Read on for a buyer persona definition, examples, and a free buyer persona template.

Bonus: Get the free template to easily craft a detailed profile of your ideal customer and/or target audience.

What is a buyer persona?

A buyer persona is a detailed description of someone who represents your target audience. While fictional, this persona is based on deep research of your existing or desired audience and can be used to refine your marketing strategy and product positioning.

A buyer persona is also called a customer persona, audience persona, or marketing persona. Different types of customers buy your products for different reasons, so you might need to create more than one buyer persona.

Why are these tools useful? Well, you can’t get to know every customer or prospect individually. However, you can create customer personas to represent your customer base.

Give each buyer persona a name, demographic details, interests, and behavioral traits. Take time to understand their goals, pain points, and buying patterns. If you want, you can even give them a face using stock photography or illustration.

You want to think about and speak about this model customer as if they were a real person. This will allow you to craft marketing messages targeted specifically to them.

Keeping your buyer persona (or personas) in mind helps ensure consistency across the board, from product development and brand voice to the social channels you use.

7 benefits of buyer personas

1. A deeper understanding of your ideal customer

Building a useful buyer persona requires a ton of research into your target market. You’ll need deep knowledge of who you’re selling to in order to create your ideal buyer persona.

Along the way, you’ll discover what makes your prospective customers tick, what they want out of life, what they’re afraid of, and what irritates them. You can use this information to create tailored solutions to your most valuable customers’ biggest problems.

2. Evolved, intentional product development

Buyer personas aren’t just for the marketing department. Your friends in product development will want to know who is buying your product and why.

When you know what’s working, what’s not, and what’s wanted, you can optimize every customer-facing aspect of your business, including your product, website and apps.

3. Better ROI through personalized marketing campaigns

The better you know who you’re marketing to, the more personal you can get. Creating content for a specific person can help you increase your marketing ROI.

Personalized product recommendations based on customer preferences can increase conversion rates and customer retention. It’s all about making it easy for your customers to make a purchasing decision by presenting them with marketing aligned with their interests and needs.

Also, once you know who you’re marketing to, you can better segment your campaigns. Properly segmented campaigns serve your ads to an audience who is receptive to them.

4. Better-informed sales efforts

Your sales team will love buyer personas. They (or you, if you’re a solopreneur who does your own sales) can use buyer personas to understand how the audience makes purchasing decisions.

Personas can highlight what influences the customer and which external factors are at play. The sales team can use this information to know which prospects to target and which sales tactics to use.

5. Improved customer acquisition and retention

If you know what your customers want, then you can give it to them. This will help with customer acquisition and retention.

6. Cross-department alignment

All departments—product development, sales, marketing, design, and leadership—need to understand who they’re trying to target. That way, everyone is rowing in the same direction.

7. Negative personas

Knowing who you don’t want as a customer can help you specify your marketing strategy.

Let’s say one of your business goals is to attract and retain higher-value customers. Perhaps you want to change your main client base from start-ups to mid-level agencies. You can adjust your marketing language from “We can help you get off the ground and scale up” to “We can help you streamline workflows to better save money.”

What every buyer persona should include

Buyer personas can be as detailed or as simple as you’d like to make them. There are no hard and fast rules for creating personas; they just need to work for your business.

Still, there are similarities between successful customer personas. And, by studying these similarities, you’ll have a better idea of how to create buyer personas for your own business.

Here are a few categories you can include in your buyer personas:

Demographic and psychographic profiles

Demographic profiles focus on the who and what of your buyer. These include objective data points like age, gender, and income.

Psychographic profiles take into context your buyer’s subjective data, which might include religions, belief systems, values, goals, and attitudes.

Here are a few demographic and psychographic attributes you can include in your buyer persona:

  • Name. The name or title used to describe the persona, like Marketing Manager Mable.
  • Photo. A visual representation. You can use a simple stock photo; this helps to humanize your persona.
  • Background. Key background information, such as career or family status.
  • Demographic data. Age, gender, location, income level, education, number of children, and marital status.
  • Interests. Hobbies, activities, or interests.
  • Personality traits. Is your buyer an extrovert? Are they open to new things? Do they have a sense of humor?

Want to learn more? Here are over 100 social media demographics marketers find useful.

Just a note: You don’t need to make up these details from scratch—in fact, you shouldn’t. In the next section, we go into detail on how to uncover these attributes.

Values, desires, and pain points

What does your ideal buyer hold near and dear to their heart? Understanding your buyer’s values and desires will help you uncover their motivations and understand the decisions they make.

Maybe they care deeply about the environment or have a soft spot for animals. Maybe their values are more introspective and focused on personal or spiritual growth.

In the same vein, what does your persona desire? Do they want more free time? Or to have more buying power? Their pain points are equally as important. What’s causing friction within their lives?

Include these attributes in your persona:

  • Values. Write down the core values and principles they hold.
  • Goals. What are their goals in life? What are their day-to-day ambitions? Career goals, relationship goals, individual goals, write them all down.
  • Challenges. What issues do they frequently face? Is there friction in their day-to-day?
  • Purchasing-specific. What’s stopping your buyer from making a purchase? What’s motivating them to purchase products?

Affiliations

Make a note of the groups, organizations, social platforms, and social circles your buyer persona belongs to.

Are they on LinkedIn but not Instagram? Do they belong to a book club or a gym? What is their favorite place to get groceries?

Business-specific attributes (for B2B customer personas)

B2B customer personas have a few more specifics than B2C because they also have to consider the business and not just the buyer.

B2B customer personas might include:

  • The size of the target business. Make a note of the size of your ideal business client. Are they start-ups? Do they gross over a million annually? Are they Fortune 500 companies?
  • The decision-makers. Note the person (or group of people) who will be making purchasing decisions. Are they CEOs or marketing managers?

How to add your business to your buyer persona

Once you’ve filled out your buyer persona details, it can be helpful to contextualize it for anyone using your guide.

Make a note of:

  • Voice and tone. What is the communication style that will resonate with your persona?
  • Where to reach them. Which social platforms are they on? Do they shop on Amazon? Are they open to email marketing campaigns?
  • Preferred content types. What kind of content are they likely to engage with? Do they have time to read articles or are bite-sized videos best?

Hootsuite’s free buyer persona template will help you set up a persona in no time.

Bonus: Get the free template to easily craft a detailed profile of your ideal customer and/or target audience.

How to create a buyer persona in 4 steps

Your buyer persona shouldn’t just be someone you want to hang out with; it should be based on real-world data and strategic goals.

Here’s how to craft a fictional customer who fits your real-world brand perfectly.

1. Do thorough audience research

It’s time to dig deep. You’re going to want to look into who your existing customers are, who your social audience is, and who your competitors are targeting.

Psst: You can take an in-depth look at these concepts in the complete guide to audience research.

Compiling audience data from your social media analytics (especially Facebook Audience Insights), customer database, and Google Analytics will help you identify details about your existing audience and social audience.

Audience data can also come from surveys and form fields, speaking to your sales team (they’ll have great insight on what makes up a quality lead), and doing customer interviews.

It’s a good idea to know which social channels your audience uses and why. Use social listening tools like Hootsuite to find out where they spend time online.

You can also scope out your competitors’ target customers using Hootsuite’s search streams. If your competitors are targeting audiences much different from yours, try to find out why. They may be tapped into a potential market you’re not aware of.

Competitor and audience research is all part of a well-rounded social media strategy. For more detailed strategies, check out our full post on how to conduct competitor research using social tools.

Keep all of this data handy, as it will help you create a buyer persona that accurately reflects who is currently interested in and who might eventually become interested in your product.

2. Identify customer goals and pain points

Your audience’s goals might be personal or professional, depending on the kinds of products and services you sell. What motivates your customers? What’s their endgame?

The flip side of your audience’s goals is their pain points. What problems or hassles are your customers trying to solve? What’s holding them back from success? What barriers do they face in reaching their goals?

Your sales team and customer support department are great ways to find answers to these questions, but another key option is to engage in some social listening and social media sentiment analysis.

Setting up search streams to monitor mentions of your brand, products, and competitors gives you a real-time look into what people are saying about you online.

You can learn why they love your products or which parts of the customer experience are just not working.

3. Understand how you can help

Now that you understand your customers’ goals and struggles, it’s time to consider how you can help.

That means thinking beyond features and analyzing the true benefits of your product or service. (A feature, btw, is what your product is or does. A benefit is how your product or service makes your customer’s life easier or better. You know this already!)

You always want to lead with benefits over features. No one cares that their phone has 12GB of RAM. They care that they can take 7,000 videos of their cat, play Candy Crush, and stream Netflix all at the same time. Take some time to figure out what benefits your customer is after.

Consider your audience’s main purchasing barriers and where your followers are in their buying journey. Then, ask yourself, “How can my business benefit them?” Capture the answer in one clear sentence.

4. Compile your buyer personas

Gather all of your research and start looking for common characteristics. As you group those characteristics together, you’ll have the basis of your unique customer personas.

Give your buyer persona a name, a job title, a home, and other defining characteristics that we’ve outlined above. You want your persona to seem like a real person.

For example, say you identify a core customer group as 40-year-old, professionally successful city-dwelling women with no kids and a passion for great restaurants.

Your buyer persona might be “High-Achiever Haley.”

  • She is 41 years old.
  • She goes to spin class three times a week.
  • She lives in Toronto and is the founder of her own PR firm. Her firm’s client roster is full at the moment, and she is focused on growing her brand’s reputation.
  • She owns a Tesla.
  • She and her partner go on two international vacations a year and prefer to stay at boutique hotels.
  • She’s a member of a wine club.
  • She’s on LinkedIn but not Instagram or Facebook and has a TikTok account solely for #WineTok. She has an internal team to manage her PR firm’s social accounts. Still, she likes to stay on top of social media trends so she can delegate marketing strategies effectively.

You get the gist: this isn’t just a list of characteristics. This is a detailed, specific description of one potential customer.

Personas like this allow you to think about your future buyer in a human way, so they’re not just a collection of data points. These things may not necessarily be true of every buyer in your audience, but they help represent an archetype in a tangible way.

The amount of information you include will depend on your goals for the buyer persona. Is this going to be the cornerstone of an expensive new product development? Then, you may want more information than if you were using the persona to know how to speak to your audience on Twitter.

As you flesh out your customer personas, be sure to describe both who each persona is now and who they want to be. This allows you to start thinking about how your products and services can help them get to that place of ambition.

You might also want to include how your buyer personas have benefited the business in your next social media report.

Buyer persona examples

Want to see some buyer personas in the wild? Here are a few persona examples to give you an idea of what yours might look like.

Adobe’s buyer persona examples

Adobe has simplified the creation of buyer personas by providing a few ready-made examples. They are segmented by personality traits, such as competitive, spontaneous and humanistic.

adobe's competitive buyer persona

Source: Adobe

ChatGPT

We took the liberty of creating a buyer persona using generative AI and the example we shared earlier. Here’s the buyer persona for “High-Achiever Haley.”

chatgpt generated buyer persona
chatgpt generated buyer persona 2
chatgpt buyer persona 3

Source: ChatGPT

Free buyer persona template

Ready to get started concocting your first buyer persona? Our free buyer persona template in Google Docs is a great place to kick things off:

Bonus: Get the free template to easily craft a detailed profile of your ideal customer and/or target audience.

To use the template, click the “File” tab and select “Make a copy” from the drop-down menu. Now you’ve got your very own version to fill out as you see fit.

Think about your buyer personas every time you make a decision about your social media content and overall marketing strategy. Do right by these personas, and you’ll build a bond with the real customers they represent—boosting sales and brand loyalty.

Save time on social media with Hootsuite. From a single dashboard, you can manage all your accounts, engage the audience, measure results, and more. Try it free today.

With files from Stacey McLachlan.

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By Colleen Christison

Colleen Christison is a freelance copywriter, copy editor, and brand communications specialist. She spent the first six years of her career in award-winning agencies like Major Tom, writing for social media and websites and developing branding campaigns. Following her agency career, Colleen built her own writing practice, working with brands like Mission Hill Winery, The Prevail Project, and AntiSocial Media.

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