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Author Debra Murphy
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How well do you know your customer? What motivates them to buy and why? The more you understand your customer, including their needs, wants, challenges and values, the better you can communicate with them. Marketing personas are highly detailed profiles of your ideal customer that will help provide clarity in your marketing strategy. A well-defined marketing persona provides insights into what they need and how they make buying decisions. This helps you create an effective business and marketing strategy to reach your ideal buyer.

What is a marketing persona?

A marketing persona, also known as a customer or buyer persona, is a generalized profile of your ideal customer or a key segment of your target audience. You form this picture of your customer and their characteristics by using customers research and analyzing the data. Look at demographic information such as age, gender, location and job or role. And depending on the product you sell, it also can include the psychographic profile that includes lifestyle, interests, preferences and concerns.

This description is not just who buys your product – i.e. the business owner. It’s a generalized representation of your target audience and the traits your customers have in common. It helps you to visualize this person because you understand details about why they buy your product or service and why. If you understand the unique characteristics and needs of your customer segments, you can design products and services that will appeal to them and structure your marketing activities that will more effectively get their attention.

How do you determine your buyer persona?

Most businesses sell products and services to multiple customer types. As a small business, you should focus your market segments and have one or at the most a couple of personas. Otherwise, your business may be trying to be everything to everybody.

Determine the base information for your buyer from your current customers. Do you see a pattern within your current customers?

  • What is the key demographic information such as age, gender, location, and job? Do they have a common lifestyle, interests and preferences?
  • Who makes the buying decision? Do they have a particular role in the business?
  • What motivates them to buy from you and not your competitor?
  • What is their story? Describe their needs, goals and concerns. Include how they make decisions and if there are any common objections.

An example marketing persona

Personas will look different for different businesses. Here is a simple example of what my marketing persona looks like for small business owners. Feel free to give them a name such as Small Business Owner Bob and Barbara.

  • Professional background – Service-based business owner that is skilled in their trade, not marketing. It could be an established business or a startup. Business owner understands marketing is an investment not an expense.
  • Goals – Get their business online so that new customers can find them. Learn what marketing works specifically for their business. Work with a trusted advisor that cares about the success of my business.
  • Pain points – Digital marketing is complicated and I don’t really have time to learn it or do it myself without help. I’ve wasted money with other agencies and don’t know who to trust. I’d like guidance from someone with experience so I can bounce ideas off of when making decisions.
  • Common objections – I worked with a marketing agency before and didn’t see results. Not sure I can trust these so-called experts. We’re already too busy so we don’t need marketing or at least we don’t need more marketing.
  • Solution needed – A trusted advisor that can help them achieve the vision for their business. Someone who can help me create a marketing plan for my business and hold me accountable. We want a professional web presence that projects our values across our website and social media profiles.

How to use marketing personas

Once you have identified your marketing personas, use them as the foundation of your marketing. You will be able to create strategies that align with the people that really want your products and services. Get started by implementing some of the following:

Content Marketing

Defining marketing personas helps you understand how your target market searches for solutions. Do keyword research using your personas to understand how your audience searches. What questions are they asking and do you have well-optimized content that answers these questions? If not, use this information to develop your content strategy. This will ensure you are providing your audience the information they want and need from you.


Persona-driven SEO can make your organic visibility more effective. When your SEO activities directly target your ideal client, the people who find you in the search results are those visitors that are more likely to convert into leads. By removing the content that doesn’t appeal to your target, you also eliminate traffic from visitors that bounce quickly from your site, sending a negative signal to the search engines.

Website structure

Ensure your website provides an easy path to the content your ideal client is looking for. You’ve done the work to get a more targeted visitor to your website, now give them what they want. Directly speak to your visitors with messages that are meaningful to their needs, guiding them through your website. When your visitor sees that you understand their needs, they will follow the path you set for them.

Social media

Part of your marketing persona profiles should include what social media they use. This will enable you to focus only on those platforms that make the most sense. You can curate better content to post on your social sites that will attract your audience as well. This makes you a valued resource of information your audience needs without having to search for it.

The more you know about your ideal client, the better business and marketing decisions you can make. This information can help you create the right service offerings and eliminate those that are of no interest. Personas also give you a clear focus on who are trying to attract and enable you to create content that solves the problems that impact their lives.

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