As I’ve been getting started with my own business this year, it’s become crystal clear one of the most critical steps to getting started with your marketing efforts is knowing your audience. What are their challenges and obstacles, what is working for them, and what do they need? I’ve discovered one of the best ways to do this is to create a Buyer Persona. But what the heck is Buyer Persona, you ask?

What is a Buyer Persona?

Simply put, Buyer Personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on data and research. 

How can a Buyer Persona help your business?

When you define your ideal customer or client, you know whom you’re talking to. Knowing your audience will help you focus your messaging, tailor marketing efforts, and guide product development whether you’re offering services or selling a product. And over time, you’ll be able to attract customers who are looking for exactly what you offer. 

For example, I started by asking myself who do I have experience with and had success with in the past? I have an extensive background in the consumer packaged goods industry and manufacturing from small to mid-sized companies. My internal clients ranged from sales teams, marketing directors, brand managers, presidents, entrepreneurs, and CEOs. So I picked two of those job titles and brain dumped their commonalities onto paper. Writing it down helped me focus and personalize my content creation for the future.

Speaking of personalization, your marketing efforts to different segments should be more than just tokens. It’s about relevant content and adding value. Here are a few tactics you can use after you create a Buyer Persona:

  • Create how-to guides
  • Case Studies
  • Landing pages explicitly targeted to your audience
  • Blog posts, videos, and webinars addressing specific obstacles and challenges

How many Buyer Personas do you need?

It isn’t one size fits all. The answer is, it depends. You can have as few as one or as many as twenty. But it’s best to start small. You can always add more later if needed. I started with just two — the Marketers (marketing directors and brand managers) and the Leaders (entrepreneurs, presidents, CEOs).  

Don’t settle for less.

It’s also essential to explore the type of customer you don’t want. For example, this could include someone too inexperienced or junior for your product or service. Maybe you’re a non-profit, and your audience is seasoned at fundraising already but looking to take their efforts to the next level. Someone who is just starting out wouldn’t be your ideal client. 

Ok, now we know how vital buyer personas are. How do we go about creating one? Here are a few great ways to get started with your buyer persona:

  • Ask your current clients or customers to take a survey or poll, keep it brief though, too long, and they won’t fill it out. I found this out the hard way. I created a fabulous 10 question form that included all my burning questions. But guess what, no one had the time to fill it out. So instead, I’m pivoting and trying a question-a-month approach through my email newsletter.
  • Review your contacts database to see how your audience finds and consumes your content. In other words, how is your audience viewing your newsletter on a mobile device or a desktop? Does your LinkedIn audience seem to find your blog posts more easily than they do on Facebook? How can you leverage what’s going right and improve on what’s not working?
  • Use forms on your website to capture data — like company size and demographics.

Another great resource is your sales team. Ask them for feedback on the leads they’re interacting with the most. Do they have anything in common?

  • For demographics and personal information, look through your contacts on LinkedIn to find commonalities.
  • Schedule an old-fashioned phone call with some old co-workers or clients and interview them.
  • Do a google search on the common challenges your ideal client faces. You’ll find lots of industry articles outlining all the information you’re researching.

And remember, don’t just talk to your best customers either, be willing to speak with those who are unhappy with your product or service. Doing so can lead to identifying areas for improvement.

Are you wondering what questions to ask? Check out this helpful article from HubSpot on 20 questions to ask your Buyer Persona.


Now that you’ve gathered the data, what’s next?

It’s time to fill out your buyer persona. You can download a template like this from HubSpot or make a fancy spreadsheet. 

But here’s some information you should include: 

  • Background information:  Job title, family, education, and career path.
  • Demographics: Male or female? Age? Income? Location?
  • Characteristics: Demeanor? Communication preferences, email, phone, or text?
  • Work: Goals? Challenges? How can you help?
  • Why? Actual quotes about goals and obstacles? Common objections to your product or service?
  • Your Messaging: How would you describe what you do to your Persona?
  • Elevator pitch: How do you sell your product or service to your buyer persona.

You’re done, now what?

Finally, share it with your company or team and even contractors helping you create content. And remember, your Buyer Personas will evolve as your products and services do, so it’s important to update them regularly as you learn more about your audience and as your business grows.

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