How to Create Actionable Buyer Personas

How often do you get involved in creating buyer personas? How do you go about developing them? As a CMO or marketing executive, you know that the more accurate and realistic your buyer personas are, the more impact your marketing campaigns are going to have. You also know that spending time creating your buyer personas to reflect your true target audience is essential to a focused and effective marketing strategy. But there may be one element of the process that you’re missing. 
Let’s look at 2 common methods of deriving personas and then examine one method that’s all too often overlooked. Finally, a handy infographic by The Buyer Persona Institute will summarize our findings.

Ask Stakeholders

When interviewing CMOs and other marketing executives, we find the number one source of information for their customer personas is the internal or external stakeholder for the product or service being marketed. For agencies, this is most often the client point of contact. For other organizations, it’s members of the sales, marketing team or customer service team.

And yes, these departments are extremely familiar with the target audience; geographically, demographically and psychographically. But isn’t their knowledge about the target audience limited and recycled? It could be drawn from existing data or assumptions and insights that have been established for a while and may not be so ‘fresh’ anymore. It may even be built using fictional or imaginary customers. This may be why, as a CMO or marketing executive, you’re frustrated that you spend so much time and money on building personas with poor results.

Tools and Data

Other resources commonly being used by CMOs to develop their buyer profiles are online surveys, analytics and social media data. These can definitely give detailed insights into customer behavior, and can often provide more recent and relevant profiles than interviewing stakeholders.

The Missing Link is…

But the one area that most often gets overlooked is interviewing actual buyers. Taking the extra step to channel authentic buyers’ voices. Simply asking existing customers about 5 key areas of their purchase journey can reveal non-obvious insights that would never have been discovered using other methods:


Of course, conducting these interviews takes planning and strong listening and interviewing skills, but will uncover the indispensable WHO,WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW and WHY of the buyer’s psyche.

As Donald A. Norman of the Nielsen Norman Group explains,

“A major virtue of personas is the establishment of empathy and understanding the individual who uses the product.”

Empathy is best achieved by talking to the individual directly. (highlight to tweet)

Thanks to The Buyer Persona Institute, we now have a handy reference for creating buyer personas the RIGHT way. Here it is:

Buyer Personas


2018-01-18T13:38:38+00:00 By |

About the Author:

Vera Shafiq
Vera Shafiq is CEO and Co-founder of 813 Digital Marketing, a digital innovation consultancy that uses agile and data-driven marketing processes to bring marketing innovation and transformation to growing businesses.

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