What Is Buyer Persona?

Buyer persona is to marketing, what sewing patterns and costume design are to the fashion conscious. The mutual aim of all is in customizing their products to fit customers’ desires and interests.

Other terms like marketing persona, user persona, and customer persona have also been used and mean the same thing. Regardless of which term is used, the aim is to create a fictional representation of different consumers that enables marketers to funnel their communications more directly and successfully to these targeted audiences based on their needs, concerns, and behaviors.

Though the categorical representations are fictional, they are based on real data gathered by a brand to better understand its model consumers. It’s no different than identifying a literary group as science fiction or autobiographical readers. Categorizing their interest allows a brand to tailor its content, communications and marketing to better fit its target audience.

How Many Buyer Personas Are Needed?

It depends on what a company or brand has to offer and can be as low as two to a dozen or more. One way to determine this is by conducting research on a small section of the target audience.


The most effective but most time-consuming way is to conduct interviews of existing and even potential customers in person or over the phone. For starters, contact those who have left comments, both good and bad, about the brand.

Create a standardized list of questions. What do they like or not like about the brand and/or service? Ask a lot of “why” questions. Just as important is to capture personal information about them, their other interests, goals, work, etc. and how they search for products and information.

Make it easy. In contacting these folks, it should be made clear that the query is by no means a sales call. Incentives, though not required, can be helpful in gaining cooperation and feedback. If done, this should be extended to all participants, even those who left negative comments.

What is also valuable is analyzing the database to discover information and trends on how existing customers are engaging and responding to the brand. While there, also check to see that enough personal data is being sought and captured to give marketing a better image of the consumer’s persona.

Often forgotten in this process is checking in with the sales and customer success teams. Engage, challenge and get their feedback on these same issues. They may deliver a totally different perspective that should be considered.

Next Step

The next step in analyzing the gathered data is to narrow the results down. This starts with segmenting those surveyed into manageable groups and then determining what commonalities, if any, were discovered with each group.  Did any discernible patterns emerge that can be applied to generalize each group’s persona?

Final Steps

Based on the knowledge gathered, reassess the ad budget to determine if it may require reallocation as well as personal, if they need to be reassigned.

Leverage the data to segment the audiences and tailor language and content associated with and preferred by each target public. The same is true for blogs and even eBooks, if appropriate. Ensure that the website and landing pages also reflect buyer persona interests and needs.

Conduct audits on content on a regular basis to re-examine and assess if buyer persona targeting is “hitting the mark.” And finally, check in with some of the same consumers interviewed earlier to get their invaluable feedback and suggestions in order to make other adjustments.

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