You've Got to Know Your People: Creating a Buyer Persona That Speaks


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20% of small businesses fail in the first year, and about 50% of businesses fail in the fifth year. That’s a pretty significant amount. I’m sure as an entrepreneur you’re doing all that you can to create a really awesome product or outstanding service and might even lose some sleep trying to please your first few clients or customers, but all of this effort and work is meaningless until you get crystal clear on who your ideal customer/client is.

What is a buyer persona?

Some people call it a buyer persona, others call it an avatar. No matter how you label it, the concept remains the same: a fictitious character that you create that represents your ideal customer.

Depending on your company, you may have more than one buyer persona, but the details should include facts about a person’s job, income level, likes/dislikes, location, desires, struggles, needs, motives, goals, strengths and weaknesses.

These details about your ideal customer will help you get to know them better as well as understand what they really want and how they want it. Knowing demographic as well as behavioral tendencies of your ideal customer can be very powerful and effective if used in the right ways. After knowing these details, it is easier to put together a meaningful story based on what you see.

These facts that you gather can help you quickly weed out the buyers that do not have a high probability of needing or wanting your product or service. For instance, if you open a small clothing boutique for women in your small town, you wouldn’t want to pay to advertise to teenage men between the ages of 15-19 on Facebook, would you?  

If you’re new to this concept, start small. Grab a couple of your current customers or clients and ask them if they can spare a few minutes to share some feedback with you. Remember to stay objective. The more details you have about your ideal customers, the easier it will be to create marketing strategies that resonate with the right audience.

Let’s get started with the basics

Creating buyer personas is a process of pulling together the information that you already have about your ideal customers and collecting the information that you need in order to get the right message in front of the right people.

The first step is to take inventory of the data that you have. Think of an example of a client who was really happy with your product/service. Write down what made them happy and their feedback.

Next, think of an example where a customer was not very happy with your service or product. Why do you think that was? If you don’t have all the answers now, write down what you want to know.

Here are some main categories of information you can collect to create buyer personas for your brand:

  1. Demographics- This is basic information such as city they live in, job title, industry they work in, household income, family size, age, gender, and education level.

  2. Personality & Lifestyle- This is information on personality traits, interest, hobbies, and values.

  3. Buying Behavior- This is specific information about the way that they buy, how often they buy, where they prefer to buy, and what makes them buy.

Sample buyer persona

New Business Example: Women’s Specific High-End Mountain Biking Apparel Brand.

Buyer Persona - Sam is 33 years old and she is a sales executive at a fast-paced tech company. She loves mountain biking, hiking, and skiing with her friends after work and on weekends. She cares about environmental causes and donates regularly to the local parks in her area. She is an ambassador for a young girls on bikes organization in her community. She chooses to grow her own food in her garden and is a vegan. She loves to shop for new riding clothing and gear online, but is very specific with what she needs and wants. Her top concerns for riding clothing are durability, moisture wicking ability, and stain resistance. Instead of a discount, she doesn’t mind spending a little extra money for better performance in her riding clothing.

Demographics Data

  1. Gender- Women

  2. Age Range (20-30 years old)

  3. HH Income Range (75k+)

  4. Education Level (Bachelor’s degree +)

  5. Location (n/a product will be sold online)

Personality & Lifestyle Info

  1. Activities they enjoy- cycling, running, skiing, working out, hiking, kayaking (active outdoor sports)

  2. Values/Beliefs they might have- environmentalist, fit lifestyle, health-conscious, community-oriented, vegan/vegetarians  

  3. Character traits they might possess- self discipline, thrill seekers, need for freedom, impulsive, independence

  4. Attitudes they might portray- chill, fun, open-minded, curious, life learners

Buying Behavioral Info

  1. How often do they shop online- once or twice per week

  2. What’s valued higher- Quality/Sale- quality of product

  3. How long does it take them to decide to purchase a desired item? (3-7 days)

  4. What do they care about seeing? Customer Reviews or Product Details (Product Details)

Marketing tactic ideas for sam

  1. Find a way to partner with the Girl’s on Bikes program at a national event

  2. Use Facebook Insights to target women like Sam with an awareness campaign for the apparel brand.

  3. Inquire about setting up a booth at bike festivals, mountain bike races, and group rides where riders like Sam hang out

  4. Sponsor a pro women’s mountain bike team for the year

Using your buyer persona to create a strategy

Now that you have facts about who your ideal customer is, you can strategize where to find her, how to engage with her, and develop a new happy customer. You can create a simple list of your resources and roadblocks, tone for communication, list your marketing goals, identify promotional methods, and set your marketing budget. With these added steps, you are well on your way to creating a knock-out brand presence with a satisfied customer community that will advocate for your new brand because they love it!

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Meet the Author: Kaitlin Flor

As an undergrad in college, Kaitlin studied Journalism and Mass Communications which made her recognize her love for connecting with people and telling their stories. 

For the past eight years she has worked with several small business owners on developing their brands and marketing strategies in industries such as food and beverage, law, event management, and fitness. She also took a stab at sales for a digital marketing agency. Her creative flair led her back to her current gig which is writing and crafting succinct and consistent marketing messages across appropriate media channels for an international manufacturing company.

Aside from work and career, she enjoys burning extra energy through skiing, hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, and yoga. Kaitlin is a certified ski instructor and children’s race coach and loves coaching her mini ski buddies during the winter weekends.

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