THINK Contributor

Buyer personas: What’s most important to know about your customers

By , March 16, 2017

Every marketer wants to reach their audience where they are – on the right device, at the right time, in a contextually relevant way. So they develop buyer personas to better target certain audiences. Buyer personas show which websites customers visit, their favorite social channels, and sometimes even the magazines on their nightstand. But are these details really the most important when thinking about who your audience is?

Who and Where: Only a Small Part of the Persona

When Adele Revella, CEO of the Buyer Persona Institute, delivers persona results to her clients after conducting buyer interviews, she says there are often “aha” moments.

“However, I cannot think of a single time where the game-changing insight, in terms of being able to engage their customers, came from the buyer’s journey insight, which is information about where the customers hang out,” Revella says.

Another common mistake she sees is marketers focusing their personas solely based on the “who” of the buyer. Revella says that while this is a piece of the persona, brands need to know more about what will enable them to engage with the buyers when they are ready to buy, and how to inspire the customer to buy.

“To inspire the buyer, we need to know much more than who they are,” Revella says. 

5 Insights to Include in Your Buyer Personas

She has found that the most effective buyer personas contain five specific insights and only one of those is related to where they consume content. Revella recommends buyer personas contain the following five insights:

1. Priority Initiative: How and When a Customer Makes a Buying Decision – You need to know what changes in their mind or environment cause them to decide that they can no longer live with the status quo and must make the investment right now.

2. Success Factor: What Buyers Expect in Terms of Benefits After the Purchase By documenting the buyer’s goals (both overall goals and in terms of this investment), brands can make sure they are delivering the results customers are expecting.

3. Perceived Barriers: What Are the Objections and Obstacles This insight comes from finding out what the customer’s objections and obstacles are to buying. It could be in terms of the purchase in general or regarding making the purchase from your brand.

4. Decision Criteria: What Customers Evaluate Buyers have become very educated through peer networks and independent research; they have develop a set of expectations around the specific capabilities a product or brand should have. These are what they are looking for on your website when making their buying decision. And if it isn’t there, they will usually not make the purchase. Brands might be losing out on sales over a capability may they actually have, simply because they did not put it on their website.

5. Buyers Journey: Where Do Buyers Go – By understanding where buyers hang out and who is involved, you can better understand their buying decision process.

“These are the objections that are often unstated, and customers don’t even tell the sales people. Buyers often never even think about buying from you because of these beliefs and attitudes that turn into barriers,” Revella says. “I think that the most important part of the buyer persona is knowing these objections so that you can overcome them.”

Now that you have the insights that should go into your buyer personas, learn how to create buyer personas and map your customer’s journey. Download: Customer Journey Maps and Buyer Personas: The Modern Tool Kit for Marketing


Jennifer Goforth Gregory uses her 20 years of professional writing experience to create content that solves readers’ problems and builds trust in her clients’ brand. She specializes in business, finance, technology, big data/analytics, telecommunications, healthcare technology, and hospitality technology. Jennifer is a paid contributor to THINK Marketing.


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