If you want to reach your target markets with compelling, hyper-focused ads that amplify your lead gen efforts and increase your sales, then I have two words for you—buyer persona. Here’s the what, why, how (and who) of building your business’ buyer persona, plus a free downloadable worksheet so you can get started today!

Want to skip the info and get your hands on that worksheet? Click here!


What is a buyer persona?

A buyer persona is a fictional character built on real data that represents your target customer. It’s like a character sheet that bundles demographics, psychographics, behavior, motivators, goals and more into one package—a fictional person that your business wants to reach, engage with and sell to. The persona is a generalized representation of your typical customer, or average consumer.

A buyer persona may be a conglomeration of quantitative and qualitative data about your ideal customer, or data collected on your current customers, or both! The more data you have on this “person,” the easier it is to start creating targeted marketing materials for them.


Why do I need a buyer persona?

A buyer persona helps you create specific, targeted messages and brand materials that speak to your ideal customers. If you have a specific person in mind when you’re creating your marketing campaigns, it’s much easier to know what to say, how to say it and where to reach them with that campaign.

Have you ever tried writing a letter without knowing who it was to? It’s probably hard to connect through a letter if you don’t know who’s on the other end of the line. If that letter’s purpose is to get the recipient to buy your product, it’s probably going to be a lot more of a sales pitch than an offer to help relieve some of their pain points. And that’s a turn-off.

By creating a persona with real issues, goals and motivators, you can better understand how your product may help them achieve their goals, relieve their pain points and frame your product in a helpful light that will be a benefit to them, rather than just shoving your product in their face.

[clickToTweet tweet="Don't write a letter to no one! Knowing who's on the other end will help you connect and engage. " quote="Don't write a letter to no one! Knowing who's on the other end will help you connect and engage. "]


How many buyer personas do I need?

Well, how many products and services are you trying to sell, and how many types of people would make use of them? The number of buyer personas you have varies greatly depending on your business. Typically, a business will have a primary target market/persona, and secondary target markets/personas. The primary persona may be your die-hard customer, or the biggest sales win that you focus your attention on, and the secondary personas could be typical customers that you serve as well, but aren’t the primary sales goal.

For example, a new board game cafe may have different types of people they want to reach. A couple examples:

a) Board game enthusiasts

b) People looking for new hobbies around the city

The cafe can’t just lump them together and try to market to both at the same time. Ads that riff off of inside-jokes in the board game community would go over group B’s head, and ads that talk about “exploring the city and discovering new hobbies” would be irrelevant to group A.

In this case, they’d need two separate personas to get the best bang for their buck when marketing on Facebook, Google or other social media. The best move for the cafe would to be create a primary and secondary persona for each type.

a)Primary persona, Board Game Bobby

b)Secondary persona, Hobby-Seeker Hailey

buyer persona example

Now, thanks to Facebook and Google's targeting and audience options, the cafe can comfortably advertise towards Board Game Bobby without alienating Hobby-Seeker Hailey, and vice versa.

So how many personas your business needs depends on your business, and depends on how many types of people your product/services are helpful to. When developing your marketing strategy, you may even want to divide and allocate your budget based on your primary and secondary personas.

For example, if your primary persona accounts for 60% of your business sales and revenue, and your secondary personas account for 20%, then you can allocate your marketing budget based on those numbers. Or, you could allocate a larger percentage of your ad spend on your secondary personas in an effort to increase the amount of business they bring in.


How do I build my own buyer persona?

Step one: research your customer base.

A buyer persona may be a fictional generalization of your average customer, but they’re based on real data. Real data about your current customers, and the customers you want to market to. You can start collecting data on your current customers by checking their social media channels, having your salespeople ask them about their challenges/goals/motivators, and doing basic market research on your ideal target customers.

Recommended reading: Buyer Personas 101: The Qualitative and Quantitative Process

Step two: build your personas.

Now with all your research in hand, you can start building! If you’ve ever been a fan of D&D or other role-playing games, this step will be fun for you. I’ve created a free downloadable worksheet for this step to help cover all the basis of persona-building. Print out a few versions, and start getting better acquainted with your customer base!

💡 Pro Tip: feeling stuck? An image and a name are a great way to start. Get on Google Images and find an image of someone that looks like your average consumer, give them a name, and go from there!

Step three: market to your personas!

With a fully-fledged buyer persona or three, you’re ready to hit the streets with new targeted marketing materials. With a new understanding of your current and ideal customers, you’ll be able to offer a more unified marketing strategy, and craft strong marketing messages that hit the mark every time.

💡 Pro Tip: Don’t sweat it. You may not get it 100% right on your first try. Do you think the big brands out there got their consumer behavior right on their first try? Not a chance. Now that you are more aware of who your customers are, you may notice new things or think of something you missed. Make the buyer persona building a continual process, and apply tweaks and adjustments where and when necessary. This process is all about getting to know your customers better in order to fulfill their wants and needs, while also increasing your sales and bottom line.


What are you waiting for? Start researching, get building, and go get ‘em!