The mandate to “know your audience” sounds simple enough, but anyone tasked with building out buyer personas for a new product, service, or feature knows that many factors go into doing the job well. Here are two key elements to consider when creating effective buyer personas.

Who Needs Buyer Personas?

The short answer is: everyone! A product succeeds or fails based on how well it satisfies consumers’ needs. The more a product manager or designer sees the market as consisting of individual people with personal preferences and pain points, the greater the likelihood that the product will resonate with consumers. This approach will ultimately impact and improve all aspects of the product lifecycle, from design and development to marketing and sales. It also helps reduce the wasteful spending that occurs from chasing after the wrong customers.

Research That Gets Results

There’s a great deal of information available on how to determine a target audience. At its core, however, the process should look like this:

Brainstorm

Before you can test your hypothesis by speaking with real consumers, get creative! At this stage, it’s encouraged to gather the team and draft a number of buyer personas. In each case, there should be a solid argument for why that target group could be interested in your product.

Ask Questions

Now it’s time to interview. At this stage, the goal should be to use surveys, polls, and questionnaires to determine how accurately the target audience was gauged. Some of the most useful questions include:

  • How does the individual making purchasing decisions?
  • Which values are important to him or her?
  • What are his or her goals and desires?
  • What are his or her challenges and pain points?
  • What objections does he or she have during the sales process?

Evaluate

Make sure to take detailed notes while learning about your potential customers: this will come in handy at this stage, when the goal is to assess and boil down research into what works and what doesn’t. Here you will also be able to map out the buying process, which will inform how, when, and why you communicate with your customers.

Define and Plan

Now that you have key data on who your consumers will be, it may even be helpful to give a name and face to each buyer persona. Remembering that your customers are flesh-and-blood people will help you relate to your audience and craft a meaningful and valuable product.