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Developing Buyer Personas: A Guide for New Businesses

By: Jenna Cyprus


Developing Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are a powerful tool for small businesses that are trying to reach a broader consumer base, but for those companies that are just getting started, it can be hard to get a sense of who your buyers are. Does that mean you should wait until later to develop your buyer personas? Or can you start developing them before you build your client base and adapt them as you go?

Start with the Basics

If you’re trying to develop buyer personas without having a sizeable client base, there are plenty of tools that can help you get started. In fact, you can actually download persona templates that will guide you through the process.

Alternatively, if you choose to develop your personas without a template, there are a few key questions you should answer about your customers. These include their age and gender, employment status, particular problems they face, and what their goals and fears are. Based on these details, you can then start to develop a plan for reaching these individuals.

Beware Early Adopters

Early adopters are key to launching a business, but when developing buyer personas, be careful not to overly invest in this group. Early adopters represent only 10-15% of your overall sales opportunities, and they tend to be very similar as a group. To succeed as a business—and to create personas that are actually useful—you need to consider more hesitant buyers and those who want to see more evidence before investing in a new product or service.

Look for New Data

Once you have your basic buyer personas, it’s time to dig deeper. That’s because basic buyer personas are essentially fictional and stereotypical. In theory, they’re full of insights, but your buyers aren’t theoretical—they’re real people. The marketing experts at Fox & Lee recommend getting to know your real customers better by analyzing what data you have and conducting a survey of your audience. Ideally, you should survey more people than just your existing buyers; most brands have a significant social media following that includes individuals who haven’t converted yet. Try to get those individuals on board for your research.

Consider Adding Persona Groups

While buyer personas are the central to the sales process, as a brand you might consider the other account tiers that shape your business. In addition to buyers, that includes influencers and known experts. These other tiers play a key role in elevating your brand and you need to identify who among your existing accounts could be elevated to an influencer or expert status. That will really help build your brand’s profile, especially if you’re a new business. You need that boost, but you need to figure out who can help you get there.

As you move forward with your marketing and put your personas to work you’ll have opportunities to determine how accurate they are and how well they’re working. And from there, you have the ability to adapt and edit. It’s okay if your initial personas aren’t completely accurate. Over time, and with the benefit of a greater amount of data, you’ll be able to refine these and continue to grow.

Whether you start building personas early in your business’s existence, or you wait until later, it will always be an ongoing process.

Published: May 23, 2019

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Jenna Cyprus

Jenna Cyprus is a freelance writer and business consultant who covers business, technology, and entrepreneurship. She's lectured for several universities, and worked with over 100 businesses over the course of the last 15 years. She's a mother of two kids, and loves to go camping, hiking, and skiing with her family.

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