What's a Persona? We'll Guide You Through Our Persona Template

Creating buyer personas is a crucial step in creating ads and content with real people in mind. Have you ever read copy and thought: "Who are they even writing to?" 

It happens all the time.

Brands can get caught pushing the message they want to work when it doesn't actually land with the audience they are trying to target. Personas help you pinpoint real people in your audience so you can write for them and target others like them.

What's a Persona and Why are They Important for Influencers and Businesses?

what is a persona

A key component of successful marketing involves understanding your target audience. Unfortunately, many businesses make assumptions when it comes to pinning down their target audience. Buyer personas are detailed descriptions of the people representing your target audience.

Personas Reduce Assumptions

Any assumptions about things like pain points, job title and likes/dislikes can lead to a poorly aligned marketing strategy that does not perform as expected. If you are creating personas correctly, they will be directly fashioned after real people who use your business.

Personas Require Details

Personas make you ask the hard questions that you might skip over if you were doing this exercise mentally. They also require details, like age or gender, that you might think are irrelevant at first but impact marketing decisions down the road.

Personas Organize and Clarify the Data

Even if you have a clear mental picture of real individuals you want to target, you also need to have the rest of your team on the same page. When these key people are clearly defined in a template, your marketing team will have a quick point of reference. For example, it's much easier to onboard a new team member or an outsourcing freelancer if you can just hand over your brand guidelines and personas.

Personas Drive a Customer-Centric Approach

When you have buyer personas in place, you should find your priorities and strategies are affected by them. If your buyer personas are created correctly, then your company is going to be driven by the needs and wants of your target audience.

Personas go far beyond just advertising alone. When you understand your target audience, it should impact your brand voice, product creation, platforms of choice, user experience (UX), buyer journey and more. In a perfect world, the personas will help your company become truly customer-centric for sustainable growth.

How to Create a Persona

create a persona

Creating the right persona will help you personalize your marketing. There are no sets of generalized personas you can choose from. Each one must be based on the individual you see represented in your customer base. You should have more than one persona created to represent the variety of top buyers or clients you want to target.

Be as Detailed as Possible

Start by looking through your contacts or recent purchases to identify a top customer. Record all of the details you know about that customer—What industry do they work for and in what position? How old are they?

Ideally, you will get a form in place that will help you glean many of these details when they first sign up to make a purchase, create an account or join your mailing list.

You need to include things like demographic details, interests and typical behavior patterns. Eventually, these profiles will help you identify their patterns for attraction, buying and disappointment. With detailed buyer personas, you are more likely to identify important things that will impact their goals, loyalty and decision making.

Difference Between User Personas and Buyer Personas

Buyers and users are not always the same person. A sales team may need to use your SAAS product, but it might be the VP of Sales who is the buyer. If you are targeting parents with items designed for their children, then the parent is the buyer while the child is the user.

It's important to differentiate between buyer and user personas. User personas may influence product design, but they should not impact marketing if they are not the ones making the purchase decision. In some cases, their pain points will become the pain points of the buyer.

Who Should Be Involved in Creating Buyer Personas?

Your marketing team will be able to help ask the right questions and guide the persona creation process. Your sales team is most likely going to know the most about individual customers since they interact with them the most. Use the customer-facing team members to create realistic buyer personas. These people are the most likely to know what will trigger a response from a specific type of customer.

Research Your Audience

Compile information about your existing customers. Dig deep. You might also look at your engaged social media followers or the audience your competitors are targeting. Look at information from your contacts list that will give you details like age, industry, location, behavior patterns and more.

Identify Pain Points and Goals

Know what motivates your customers. What is their end goal? What is pushing them to make a change?

Social listening with searches that monitor brand, product and competitor mentions can help you further understand these groups and what they are after. Learn about what parts of the customer experience are less than ideal and include this information in the relevant personas. Your varying personas will have different perspectives but may share certain goals or pain points.

Treat Your Profiles Like Real People

You may feel silly assigning a fake name or picture to your personas. However, the more your team can think about the profile as a real person, the more they will create marketing that is specifically designed to target them. Your personas should become part of all strategies for your company—everything from product development to advertising.

Adjust as You Go

If you realize your personas are getting outdated or slightly different than you first believed, make changes! You also may find out more details you can fill in for specific profiles as you get further along in the process.

These are not stagnant profiles—buyer personas should be adjusted as you learn new things about your target audience.

Example of a Persona Template

template of persona

Be careful not to give your buyer persona a glossed-over profile. Your personas should reflect real people with real frustrations, goals and opinions.

Each buyer persona should have a name, job title, location and other details that help them seem like a real person. You may choose to include a picture or illustration just to give the persona a face.

Here is a quick example of one kind of buyer persona.

Marketing Manager Mary

Lives in a suburban neighborhood in a two-story house with a mortgage. Is 38, married, has two kids and owns a large dog. Struggles with work-life balance and feels like she can't fully "unplug." Attends fitness classes 3x a week and drinks wine regularly. Enjoys cooking and despises cleaning. Makes decisions for the company on messaging and ad spend.

  • Dreams of traveling and spending time doing meaningful things with her family.
  • Loves her job but feels stressed by the constant demand.
  • Budget-conscious and is always worried about paying too much for conveniences.
  • Spends a lot of time on Facebook and Instagram as an enthusiastic sharer.
  • Dislikes video content sound because it attracts attention from her kids or coworkers.
  • Health conscious but isn't above stopping for fast food when she's low on time.

You can see from this persona that some of the information could be helpful to understanding how Marketing Manager Mary is going to approach price points and convenience. The more details you can include about this person, the further you can understand what drives their decisions and how your company can help solve their problems.

Additionally, you might have Driven Dave and Loyal Landry as persona examples that reflect other distinct segments of your customer base.

Each persona should include information like:

  • Name (choose something catchy and memorable)
  • Job title/industry
  • Location
  • Age
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Family situation
  • Education
  • Activities
  • Goals
  • Fears/frustrations/dislikes
  • Common objections
  • Desires/likes
  • Challenges

Using Your Buyer Personas

Once you have your buyer persona in place, you need to use them. That might seem like an obvious statement, but the reality is: the persona itself isn't enough. Your buyer personas should be put to work, helping you create a more effective strategy and customer-centric brand. Buyer personas should help you:

  • Allocate ad spend and human resources where your audience spends time
  • Use the right language (slang, buzzwords, pain points, etc.)
  • List segmentation and personalized marketing tactics
  • Create blog posts, videos and other content that targets specific segments
  • Optimize landing pages to appeal to specific personas
  • Find influencers your personas follow who will create campaigns with you
  • Audit your content to identify gaps in targeting specific personas
  • Develop products and packaging according to the needs/tastes of your audience

The more you use your personas, the more you allow your customer base to guide the direction of the company. Adapting to your buyer personas can help you fill in market gaps and really stand out from the competition.