Effective marketing of your business, product, or service starts with knowing who you’re talking to.

Where do they live? How old are they? What are their goals? What are their challenges? What type of work do they do? What are their responsibilities? 

The more you know about your ideal customer, the easier it is to communicate in a way that resonates with them. That’s where a marketing persona comes in. 

What is a marketing persona?

According to Hubspot, a marketing persona, also known as a buyer persona, “is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.” 

Distilled further, Santiago Castillo on Think with Google refers to personas as “fictional profiles that represent groups of similar people in a target audience.”

Your marketing personas are your ideal customers split into groups with specific attributes, qualities, and challenges you’re trying to help them solve. 

What is persona-based marketing?

Persona-based marketing uses these semi-fictional representations of your customers and their pain points to define content production and promotional strategies that will resonate with those customers. 

This type of marketing emphasizes designing customer journeys based on defined personas. When done correctly, it gives businesses a way to better connect with their prospects. You can fine-tune marketing campaigns and messaging to address particular audiences rather than broad groups of people. 

Why is it beneficial to create marketing personas?

Marketing personas can be an invaluable asset to your marketing plans and business strategy. 

Creating personas for marketing takes time, extensive research, and constant refining, but it can lead to several benefits, including: 

  • Knowing how to tailor your content to keep customers coming back for more: When you get to know your customers on a deeper level, you can use your insights and understanding of their needs to drive your marketing strategy. With your marketing personas and current trends in mind, you can create personalized experiences, targeted ads, customized collateral, and valuable blog content to give people what they want.
  • Connecting with your ideal customer at the right time, on their desired channel: Have you ever wondered when and where exactly you should be connecting with your customers? In a Sprout Social study, 76% of respondents said they’re more likely to buy from a brand they feel connected to through social over a competitor. That means, in a digital world, it’s crucial to identify where your potential customers spend their time and how best to communicate with them. Marketing personas take the guesswork out of campaign planning and use their social media habits to your advantage.
  • Improved and well-informed product development: Understanding what your customers need and want empowers you to identify new products and services to address those requirements and desires. You’ll be more likely to build long-term relationships with your customers while simultaneously widening the gap between you and your competitors. 

In short, knowledge is power, and marketing personas help you know your customers on a deeper level to refine your marketing efforts. 

What makes a good marketing persona?

Creating personas for marketing is no easy feat, and before we get into how to create a marketing persona, it’s necessary to understand what makes a good one. 

Not all personas are created equal. Good marketing personas are:

  • Accurate and well-researched: Thorough research is arguably the most essential component for creating a good marketing persona. Quality research leads to a precise understanding of your customer base. Support your claims with facts and data, and for increased accuracy, use multiple methodologies to collect data for a more holistic view of your audience.
  • Descriptive, but not exclusive: Marketing personas help you identify and understand your audience, but it’s important to be descriptive and not exclusive when creating them. Generalizations can perpetuate stereotypes, and understanding how confirmation bias manifests for marketers and how to overcome these biases will help you create personas in a meaningful way.
  • Useful and adjusted as needed: Marketing personas shouldn’t be viewed as a “set it and forget it” exercise. Instead, your personas should be regularly reviewed to reflect recent findings and evolving customer desires. 

How to create a marketing persona for your business or product 

Let’s talk about how to create marketing personas for your business. This process can take many shapes and forms, but here are some tips to help you get started.

1. Research your existing audience

Get started by understanding your current customers beyond your assumptions. Gut instinct or a “hunch” about what customers want and need isn’t enough. 

Back up your thoughts through customer input and raw data. This often starts by conducting audience research to identify who you want to reach and what insight you hope to gain. Even if you have positive and long-term relationships with your customers, you may not know as much as you think you do about them. 

After you’ve created a list of identified customers you want to hear from, start interviewing them using a variety of methods like phone interviews, internet surveys, in-person meetings, etc. 

The type of information you need to collect will vary with your business, but here are some general vital pieces of information to gather:

  • Name 
  • Age
  • Job title
  • Location 
  • Preferred channels and communication types
  • Favorite aspects of your business or product
  • Challenges they face with your business or product
  • Why they chose you over a competitor
  • Pain points your business or product addresses

2. Analyze and condense your market research

Now that you have a ton of customer data and information at your fingertips, it’s time to make sense of it. You’ll need to spend time consolidating and condensing it down. 

Categorize the information you’ve collected and identify common themes such as shared pain points, preferred channels, communication types, or even similar responses to your interview questions. This is what you’ll use to start to create your personas — you’re aiming to create three to five of them

Imagine that your customer research and conversations revealed that your older customers use your product primarily because of your high-quality customer service.

Here’s a simple marketing persona example using that information: 

John Doe, age 50, CEO of a large financial company

  • Communicates via email or face-to-face, and his social media usage is minimal
  • His typical workday is very busy, and he wants a solution that saves time and removes hassles
  • High-quality customer service is more important to him than anything, as he doesn’t have time to troubleshoot on his own 

Your marketing personas can be as detailed as you’d like (above is a very brief example) — and you can always add on as you learn more.

The point is to get these nuts and bolts out on paper so they can guide your marketing strategy, decisions, and messaging. After all, the way you’d market to and communicate with a busy John Doe will probably be different from how you’d market to a young professional who wants a more personal connection. 

3. Test and refine your personas

You can’t just create your marketing personas and watch as the magic happens. For them to work, they need to be accurate — and that means you need to test them. 

Once you’ve ironed out your personas, you need to monitor your marketing efforts to understand what’s resonating with your customers. You should keep an eye on your analytics to understand what’s landing. 

For example, if you thought John Doe was hyper-sensitive about customer service, but your targeted email campaign about your service team isn’t getting any engagement, that could be a sign that service isn’t quite as important as you thought it was. 

From there, you could test out campaigns that tout your cost-effectiveness or another aspect of your product or service. You can also use an A/B testing strategy to leverage comparisons and get more information about what really hits home with each persona. 

Use your marketing personas to market in a way that resonates

The way we communicate is heavily influenced by who we’re talking to — and that’s especially true when it comes to marketing. Effective marketing speaks to your customers’ pain points and highlights how you’ll solve those problems for them.

That’s difficult to do if you don’t understand who your customer is and what they’re dealing with, which is why marketing personas are so helpful. 

Creating personas requires you to understand the nitty-gritty of your customers and pull those details into accessible, easy-to-reference descriptions. That helps you with the most important marketing tactic of all: creating everything with your customer top of mind. 

Once you’ve created your personas, you’re ready to execute top-notch marketing strategies. Keep your campaigns organized with Wrike and start your free trial now.