Getting started with marketing personas.

Posted September 13, 2017 in by

Here’s the deal. Marketing personas are important for certain aspects of marketing. But what if you prefer to use target markets? A lot of people think that the use of buyer personas and target markets are mutually exclusive—that you can only use one or the other—but that’s not the case. Let’s take a pause to talk about each one.


Target Markets vs. Marketing Personas Comparison Chart


I’m not going to lie. I was a persona skeptic at first. But it’s important to note that the demographic and psychographic information that is used to build a target market is still extremely important to capture and utilize when executing your marketing plan tactics, specifically media buys. You can’t type “Marketing Marsha” into AdWords and expect it to know what that means. And just because Marketing Marsha is 39 years old, that doesn’t mean you are only targeting 39-year-olds with your ads. You are more likely targeting a range of ages, such as 35 to 44.

But using marketing personas to write for an individual rather than a group can be instrumental when it comes to content development. Getting inside of an individual’s head with specific questions—for example, “What are the individual challenges she needs help solving?”—helps to develop more meaningful and hardworking content.

Now that you hopefully feel comfortable with the fact that you don’t have to dump all that hard work and research you’ve done to only reference a persona, let’s walk through how to begin building one. First, we’ll tackle where to get your persona information.


Places to get marketing persona information.

Website analytics.

The Google Analytics locations listed below is going to be effective if you’re targeting whom your customers already are and you want more of those kinds of people. If you’re targeting a completely new group of people or an underserved market, you can still use your website analytics, but you may not have as much information on them.

  • Demographics
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Interests
  • Geo
  • Behavior
  • Technology
  • Mobile
  • Acquisition overview
  • Behavior overview


Social media profiles.

I often look at actual people’s profiles on both LinkedIn and Facebook to help me build a persona. Personas are fictional, so I don’t use these people’s profiles verbatim, but reviewing them does help me get an idea of how they live their lives. Do I feel a little bit creepy? Yes. Is it a great idea? Also, yes. For example: If you know your persona works in a specific industry or has a specific job title, find some companies that fit that description and then find the people on LinkedIn who fill those roles within that company. You can begin to build your persona from there.

  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter


Third-party research.

Start with Google. See if there are any studies that have been done by companies like Pew Research or Deloitte focusing on your target markets and their behaviors or sentiments. Sometimes you may have access to organizations within your industry that perform consumer research studies. Those are great sources to access information. You can also perform keyword research to figure out what your persona is searching for online.


Proprietary research.

Larger companies often have a consumer insight team, or maybe you’ve done your own surveys or information gathering. Utilize these findings as well. Finally, you could try using actual testimonials or reviews, like those found on Yelp, which can be a great way to look at the sentiment of your persona.


Segmenting personas.

When determining how to write your persona, you’ll want to decide where the largest opportunity for success lies in obtaining your ideal customer from the target marketing information you’ve already identified. Following are a few ideas:



Depending on the kind of company you are, you will include different types of information in your individual personas. For example, a B2B company will have more business information in their personas than personal information, and a B2C company will have more personal information than work information in their personas. A B2B persona will probably focus more on challenges at work, while a B2C persona may talk a lot about home life challenges.


Final thoughts.

As you create your marketing persona, keep in mind that if a piece of information isn’t insightful, you likely don’t need to include it. However, if the persona is looking pretty bare, you should consider doing some additional research. We generally use a picture of a person who represents the persona. Note that for your organization, if you’ve done your research and everything is strategically sound, people will often get hung up on the way the person looks rather than what the information says. It’s important to be prepared for that possibility.


If you want to learn more about marketing personas or need a template, check this out:


Free Playbook: Buyer Personas

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