Did you ever have an imaginary friend growing up? Psychologists have come to realize that having imaginary friends while growing up is a normal part of social-cognitive development and can help kids practice their budding social skills.

Imaginary friends can help your advertising efforts grow, too.

But ad people like us call them buyer personas instead.

Just as you envisioned how your imaginary friend looked and acted, we can do that to envision what your ideal customer is like. Buyer personas are fictional characters based on your own customer data and outside research. They are hypothetical humans who would likely be interested in your product or service. Creating specific profiles can help define your customers and their behaviors and, most crucially, help your team identify the most effective ways to target and reach them.

Let’s use a big-box store as an example of a company that should use buyer personas. They can have families as customers, stocking up on bulk items to save money. Business owners can also be shopping at the same store, purchasing items to run their companies. But each buyer set will have different reasons for shopping at the same store – families would like the convenience and value of buying in bulk, whereas business owners may shop there because it’s cost efficient.

So where do you find the data to create these buyer personas?

There are four different types of data you can use to guide you in creating these personas, whether you do the legwork yourself to collect information or you hire an agency like us to handle it for you.

  • Zero-Party Data: This is information a customer proactively shares with you, such as signing up for your marketing emails or completing a survey about their experience.
  • First-Party Data: You own this data about your customers, from website data, phone call logs, social media feedback, and app data.
  • Second-Party Data: This is very similar to first-party data, but it’s passed along to you from another organization. For example, a social media monitoring company that you hired to respond to comments compiling monthly reports.
  • Third-Party Data: Perhaps the most controversial method, which we’ve discussed in a previous article, this information is collected and sold to you by independent organizations about your customer base.

One way you can informally collect information to create a buyer persona is to simply check out who follows you on social media. Does one demographic seem to make up the base of your audience? Do they tend to follow similar accounts? What’s the most common job in your follower count? It’s not exactly scientific, but it’s a start to laying a solid foundation for your buyer persona.

Want more guidance on your audience’s demographics? Contact the buyer persona experts at Know Advertising: An Agency of Excellence.

Contact us now.