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Understanding Customer Personas

"Manager Mary" is used as a pictorial representation of an ideal customer example within our free Customer Persona Template available for download.

“Manager Mary” is used as a fictional representation of an ideal customer example

Understanding customer personas, sometimes called ‘buyer personas‘ or ‘buyer personalities‘, is an important first step in the inbound marketing process. Knowing the overall personality of your customer, where they live, their age, their interests / hobbies / likes / dislikes, makes marketing to them much easier and relevant. It allows you to add contextual relevance to their needs.

Customers Come First

Connecting with your customers is the single most important thing to your business. And without it, your products don’t sell, and you lose your customers to your competitors, more often than you care to admit.

Now that we’ve gotten that out in black and white, it’s time to talk about how to connect with your customers, how to ensure that you have the tools to compete with that other company. So where to start. How about with your ideal prospects, otherwise known as your customer personas. And the first question to ask yourself is “who is your ideal prospect?” Who are the customers you’re trying to reach and market your products to?

That might make this question even harder to answer. Where do we begin? Which leads to something else that needs to be clarified, and that is it’s not about you. Sorry, but it’s just that there’s no immediate solution to satisfying your needs. That’s like saying business exists for its own sake. The focus should be on the customer. Only then can you resolve that single most important thing, connecting with customers.

“The secret to a successful inbound marketing campaign is remember the mantra it isn’t all about you. Easier said than done, right? How can you make sure that each piece of content, tweet and Facebook post is intriguing to your followers? Unleash the power of buyer personas, a long-time secret of the traditional marketing realm. By creating and naming sample customers you can make sure your content is actually about them.”

– Jasmine Henry at Inbound Marketing Agents.

Like Real People

Every customer has a void to fill. They have needs, and they certainly set goals for themselves to fulfill those needs. But of course like everything else in life, they run into a lot of snags. And so all they are looking for are the right products by a respectable company, one they trust. If that experience ever comes around and the customer is satisfied, then they will return.

Customers are attracted to certain products based on their personality traits or aspects of their character, which believe it or not dictate their purchasing decisions. This happens quite consistently, and so it’s important to know what those traits are.

And this is where a sense of humanity comes into play. Which is to say, try not to think of them strictly as numerical values. It’s quite alienating. Much better to think of them as real people, like friends.

“Talk about who your buyer is — as you would describe a friend, and take notes. This does not mean write down demographics and move on. It means understanding what your buyer cares about, what a day in his life is like, how he likes to communicate, what his hobbies are and what drives him to make decisions. Sit down with your team and talk about the details that affect your consumers’ lives.”

– Brianna Carlon at Co-Grow.

Conduct research about your customers as if you were really in need of a good group of friends, a certain kind of group of people, one you could relate to. After all, isn’t that why you’re in business? Selling to customers should be a reflection of your passion, that burning desire in you as a person of business to satisfy the needs of other people experiencing similar frustrations as you do. So begin by looking at demographics and consider the following:

  • Gender
  • Age range
  • Ethnical background
  • Employment status
  • Level of education
  • Knowledge of languages
  • Location
  • Disabilities


Knowing the demographic information of your customer helps define your targeted audience and tailor your marketing message to them.

Knowing the demographic information of your customer helps define your targeted audience and tailor your marketing message to them.


Now that demographics have sort of mapped out some general things about your customer base, try to write down a list of potential buyers that fit those categories. You’ll probably come up with quite a few. And that’s good. But, if I may, a word of caution, too much of anything can do more harm than good. Try to avoid thinking that reaching a broader audience means developing a lot of profiles. This can lead to watered down customer personas that don’t warrant the attention.

Adele Revella at Content Marketing Institute says, “One company I worked with initially planned to build 24 different buyer personas. Ambitious? Yes. Necessary? No. When they started interviewing their buyers, they were able to pare that list down to 11. Because their marketers are continually conducting new buyer interviews and gaining new insights, we expect to be able to consolidate that list even further.”

What’s important is putting together details that reflect your customers’ daily lives. Once you’ve got a map of the boundaries for your business, based on those demographics, then it’s time to start developing your buyer personas.

Customer Personas

Your customer personas should read like a snap shot of an on-going story. They’re at a certain stage in their life where they are ready to start looking for a certain kind of product. They have a home somewhere in the state or country and they work a job in the area. They’re also either limited to or freed by their income to buy either what they want or what they can afford. And maybe say they have a car.

Here comes the fun part. At least to me it is. These questions make that snap shot a bit more detailed:

  • What current trends are they following?
  • What are customers challenged with?
  • What information are they trying to find?
  • What problems are they faced with?

Customer Persona Example

“Sentimental Steve is 32 years old and loves his wife. He has a tendency to put his foot in his mouth sometimes, and he always makes up for it with a small gift of flowers or chocolate. Steve’s budget is pretty small, so he shops around for the best sales for his anniversary and Valentine’s day,” a good example of a customer scenario provided by Jasmine Henry at Inbound Marketing Agents.

What you’re developing are customer profiles or fictional characters. They are based on real people but they are also just general reflections of an overall population. That is to simply clarify, there is no way to make a customer persona absolutely accurate, as if it were a trick for attracting every buyer who sees a marketing campaign.

John Bonini at Impact Branding & Design writes, “The challenge is developing accurate buyer personas as they pertain to your company. Keep in mind you can never be 100% accurate, as buyer personas are fictional profiles based on what you know about your customers, but they will provide you and your team with a more targeted approach.”

Reaching Out To Customers

Use your customers Likes and Recommendations to build an idea of their interests to deliver contextual marketing

Now it’s time to meet them online. Most customers spend a lot of their time on the internet. And to the same effect there seems to be a lot to do on the internet – watching movies, reading books, watching bad news. So the question is what are the online activities that customers are engaged in? Instead of going outside to play, what are they doing on the internet inside their own home? The questions listed below are good for mapping out that online experience.

  • What search terms are being used?
  • What materials are being downloaded?
  • What sources provide the best information?
  • What social channels get the most traffic?

By using your existing social media connections, you can see trends in the Likes and interests of your fan base. Use this to you advantage to bring context to your advertising.

Now It’s About You

Customer personas are awesome tools to help your business flourish. By using them, it’s possible to follow your customers as they change according or not according to trends. So now it’s time to reach out to the customer and fulfill that need, resolve that dilemma.

We want to help you push the boundaries of your business and expand. With our help you can find your business happily at the fringe of customer understanding. Because, not only is it important to us that you know your customers and their needs, but that your customers also in turn know you and what your services can provide. So feel free to contact us today for a free inbound marketing assessment and get found by your next customer!

Also published on Medium.

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