Buyer Persona: How to define it and why should you care?

You must be wondering that you’re doing all this marketing effort and nothing is giving you results. Well, one of the reasons could be that maybe your message is not resonating with your target audience. Maybe you’ve not really figured out who your buyer persona is. Well, today I share with you an insightful conversation with Surbhi Dedhia, Founder of Digital Genie and Jot My Bio, on how you can define your buyer persona so sharply that your messages will start resonating with them.

Here are some interesting insights and excerpts from over conversation on defining buyer persona and why should you care:

Question: How did you launch on this journey of being an entrepreneur and what made you take the plunge?

Surbhi: I was in Singapore before, and then I moved countries. I was trailing my spouse, and my family to come to Dubai. And, uh, you know, I had a great global network of vendors that I was working in my past role as a global marketing director. When I came here, I had a lot of these connections that I had made in the past, which started saying that, hey, will you do a content marketing project for us? Hey, will you do this for us? . So all these small projects were keeping me busy. I had no time to go and give interviews really to get another job in a new country. When you move countries, as a single person, it’s very different than when you have  children and the spouse. And having the responsibility to get everything started and to settle another place, it takes time. And I said, I would  give my self time to do that. But within two weeks I thought I just can’t stay at home.

So I started picking up all these different projects. Uh, and one thing led to another. And in Dubai, in UAE, they started this taxation system where they couldn’t hire freelancers anymore. And also, I felt at some point that,  I needed to make sense of all this in terms of building a portfolio. Because that’s what I was advising people that, you know, you got to have your website, you’ll have to have a digital presence. And I had barely my LinkedIn profile. So that’s where I started a Digital genie. And I said, look, this is the company, this is the brand. This is what I’m doing. And within digital genie, I couldn’t just say I do everything because as a global marketer I had experience, knowledge and network for all aspects of digital marketing landscape. So, I had to really focus in on, what gives the best value in terms of my experience in terms of my understanding to the client.

Most of my conversations across the region here were with businesses who had minimum digital assets, like they had a website, they had probably social media pages and stuff, but they did not get any ROI. The assets are there. They’re not performing. So they were expecting me to come in there and like every other agency tell them, no, no, no, your website is not functioning. you have not upgraded some plugins or you’re on a wrong social media platform, all of that. But I came back to them saying that, where is your buyer persona.

It’s a classic problem. Like all the founders who start a business, they have an idea and they want to sell, they want to solve the problem and they create that product or service. And they go to the market with that. And the next step is keep doing more and more of it to get the money to sustain the business. Nobody spends time you’ll think about who is your ideal persona, but ideal customer.

Question: So how to define the buyer persona?

Surbhi:  Imagine there are these 3 concentric circles – the inner most has your core audience, and the outer has other people who may not fit your buyer persona exactly but are still important for your business. To find out who sits inside the inner most circle the bulls eye and what their pain points are, you need to do three steps:

  1. Do not assume that you know them. Ask them instead through research, focus groups, surveys, interview.
  2. Once you have figured it out, write it down in black and white.
  3. Repeat this for your other concentric circles as well. Those who sit in the outer circles.

And the last thing I would like to say on this buyer persona thing is once you have done all this, it’s not all over.  It’s a living document. As your business, it’s definitely going to move along with you. As you evolve, review if it is working for you still?  And if not, you must understand that your audience has also moved or shifted.  So you need to keep revising and refining it from time to time.

Question: So how do you identify what makes your buyer persona tick? What motivates them at an emotional and psychological level?

Surbhi: So one technique that works well for you to deep dive is surveys.  Identify the people you think fit the bill of your buyer persona, on social media channels. Make a list and reach out to them to with survey responses and if possible meet them for a coffee conversation because then you can gather a lot of inputs via observing their body language to gain a deeper understanding.

Question: What technology tool would you recommend for a small business owner to help them define their buyer persona?

Surbhi: Technology is a big leveler. What is available today to big brands is also available to start ups and small business owners. So you can get hold of any template that’s available on the internet for buyer persona and make it your own. Also for survey, a simple Google Forms is a good way to start.  And it is super important to collect the email IDs of those who respond to your survey so that you can connect with them. This is a mistake I see a lot of people making when they design their surveys for buyer persona.  You can use Mail Chimp for building your email database and keep improving the work you do on your buyer personal as you grow.

Question: So what do you think according to you will be the top five questions that should definitely go in this buyer persona survey?

Surbhi:  The first thing to do to make your survey work is to make it simple and easy. No one has time to fill up stories for you. So ask very precise questions which have multiple choices for a person to pick. Give them options to make it easy for them to respond to your survey as you collect information about them.  In terms of questions, apart from the basics on demographics such as age, gender etc. you should include questions that probe about your product or service or the problem you are trying to solve. For example ask them, what do you like about a specific product or service and give them options to choose from. Let’s say if you are selling a course on time management, you could give them options like: Are you the person who is always on time? Or Are you scrambling last minute to be on time? You can even take inspiration from psychometric tests which give you statement options to describe what fits you the best: example if you are at a party, do you like to mingle and be the heart of the party, or do you feel lost in a large party Or do you mingle in 1:1 settings. So such kind of questions give you a glimpse into the behavioral aspects of your persona. Another important way to dig deeper about your buyer personal is give them options of Google Search terms that they would use to search related to your product or service. That gives you an idea of whether they are ‘solution focused’ or ‘tool focused’ or what exactly their needs might be.

Another thing I want to add is when you are giving them these options to select from, always include an option called ‘other’ because sometimes you options may not suitably describe them or their problem. So give them a chance to tick the ‘other’ option.

In addition we had some super insightful conversations about Surbhi’s journey as an entrepreneur, the challenges and hurdles she faced and how she overcame them.  Some of the key things that stood out to me were:

  1. Even if you are good at 10 things, focus on one or two key things that you know you can add value to your clients. Do not try to be everything to everyone.
  2. Do not allow scope creep to happen in your enthusiasm to take on work as a new business. Be very clear on what you will and will not do for your clients.
  3. To tackle loneliness as a solopreneur, it is important to connect with other people like you and networking is key.

In fact with networking at heart, Surbhi does a fabulous podcast show called The Making of a Thought Leader which allows her to meet up with innovators, business owners who are shining a light on this world in their own way. This is her passion to bring to life their stories, their thought leadership to you. Listen to those stories and subscribe to her podcast.

And to listen to the entire conversation that Surbhi and  I had on defining buyer persona on Audio, you can subscribe to the A G Speak Digital Marketing Talk Show on Podbean and Apple Podcast. Or simply listen to it here.

If you want to see the video of the conversation, you will find it in the video format on Podean here as well as on A G Speak’s Digital Marketing Talk Show YouTube Channel. Watch it here if you please. Do share it with those whom you think may benefit from this content.

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