Buyer Personas

Align your Marketing Strategy and Business Goals Series—Part 3 of 10

October 3, 2018

How to Connect with Someone You’ve Never Met

A great way to start aligning business goals and marketing strategy is to develop buyer personas. Buyer personas are fictional archetypes that represent a business’ typical customers. They then act as a point of reference when setting goals, developing strategy and creating targeted content. Who are we targeting? What motivates them? What are their needs? By asking these questions, the answers will help to focus your efforts.

Buyer Persona

Buyer personas help you understand your customers (and prospective customers) better, making it easier for you to tailor your content, messaging, product development, and services to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different groups. In other words, you may know your target buyers are high net worth individuals, but do you know what their specific needs and interests are? What is the typical background of your ideal buyer?

The strongest buyer personas are based on market research as well as insights you gather from your actual customer base. Useful information ranges from demographic information, such as age, gender, education, location, industry, position, marital status, number of children, and income level; to behavioral patterns, such as preferred method of communication, technology adoption, past purchasing habits, and existing frustrations; to aspirational aspects, such as goals, motivations, brand identification, and circles of influence; to psychological and cultural aspects (if relevant), such as personality traits (introvert/extrovert, feeling/thinking, etc.), language, ethnic or national background, and religious or political affiliations.

Additional detail can be added through surveys, interviews, online research, website analytics, past business analysis, industry metrics, government data, paid research, etc. Characteristics consistent across various types of research will point to trends that will allow you to further refine your buyer personas—and they often suggest ways for you to effectively engage.

Depending on your business, you could have as few as one or two personas, or as many as ten or twenty. If you’re new to personas, start with one or two! You can always develop more if needed, and adjust existing personas as you learn more about your market.

"Until you understand your customers - deeply and genuinely - you cannot truly serve them." ~Rasheed Ogunlaru

BONUS! 100 Questions to Start Your Buyer Personas

Below are 100 questions to get the juices flowing (modified from a list created by Hubspot).

This list is meant to be tweaked and honed, so feel free to use this as starting point, then modify to suit your specific needs. It may also be wise to run your final list of questions by your legal department. Though often informative and relevant, your company may not wish to ask some of the more sensitive questions.

Background and Early History

  1. What is your name?
  2. What is your age?
  3. What gender do you identify with?
  4. Where were you born?
  5. Where did you grow up?
  6. Was it a rural, suburban, or urban area?
  7. What kind of house/apartment did you live in?
  8. What did your parents do for a living?
  9. Were your parents permissive, authoritarian, or in the middle?
  10. Are your parents still alive?
  11. Are they still married?
  12. Do you have any brothers or sisters?
  13. Where do you fall in the birth order?
  14. What is your racial/ethnic heritage?
  15. What were your favorite activities as a child?
  16. What are your favorite childhood memories?

Education

  1. What type of elementary, middle, and high schools did you attend?
  2. What was your favorite subject in school?
  3. What types of grades did you get in school?
  4. Do you enjoy learning new things?
  5. Did you have a lot of friends, a few close friends, or no friends at all?
  6. Did you get in trouble at school?
  7. Did you attend college?
  8. If so, where did you go?
  9. What did you major in?
  10. Did you enjoy your college experience?
  11. If you did not attend college, what did you do after high school?

Employment History

  1. What was your first job?
  2. What is your current job?
  3. How did you arrive at your current position?
  4. How long do you stay in a given job, on average?
  5. What is your current salary?
  6. Do you feel like you’re compensated fairly?
  7. Do you like your boss?
  8. Do you like your co-workers?
  9. Do you like the work you’re assigned?
  10. What challenges do you face in your current position?
  11. What is your dream job?
  12. How do you plan to pursue this job (if you plan to do so at all)?
  13. At what age do you plan to retire?

Current Situation

  1. What city do you currently live in?
  2. What type of housing do you currently live in?
  3. Who lives in your house with you?
  4. Are you happy with your current arrangement, or do you wish it was different?
  5. Are you close to your extended family?
  6. Do you have any pets?
  7. Are you single, dating, or married?
  8. Is this the relationship status you would prefer? (For example, do you like being single or would you prefer to be in a relationship?)
  9. Do you have a lot of friends, a few friends, or not many friends at all?
  10. Do you enjoy traveling?

Finances

  1. What is your net worth (roughly)?
  2. Do you have debt? (If so, what type?)
  3. Do you make purchase decisions carefully or are you loose with your money?
  4. How do you feel about your current spending habits?
  5. What factors drive you to make a purchase?
  6. Are you a financial decision-maker in your current job?

Personal Life

  1. What is your sexual orientation?
  2. Are you religious?
  3. What is your political affiliation?

  4. Do you make an effort to stay fit and healthy?
  5. Do you care about your personal appearance?
  6. What hobbies do you currently pursue?
  7. What is your favorite TV (or streaming) show?
  8. What is your favorite movie?
  9. What is your favorite genre of music?
  10. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
  11. What do you do first thing in the morning?
  12. Do you cook at home or eat out?
  13. Are you a neat freak or are you okay with messes?
  14. How do you spend your weekends?
  15. Where do you shop?
  16. Do you read for fun?
  17. Do you drink?
  18. Do you smoke?
  19. Do you use recreational substances?
  20. What do you wish was different about your weekly routine?
  21. Would you consider yourself “tech-savvy”?
  22. What social networks do you spend time on?

Thoughts, Feelings, and Motivations


  1. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
  2. Are you optimistic or pessimistic?
  3. Are you more right-brained or left-brained?
  4. Are you quiet or boisterous?
  5. Are you practical or more frivolous by nature?
  6. Do you prefer to follow the rules or do you enjoy situations where you can challenge boundaries?
  7. Do you like to take risks or play it safe?
  8. Are you an innovator or somebody who tends to follow the norm?
  9. Are you flexible or rigid in your thought patterns?
  10. Are you spontaneous or do you prefer pre-determined plans?
  11. Are you motivated by your own achievements or by what others think?
  12. How affected emotionally are you by other people’s judgments?
  13. What would it take for you to deem your life a success?
  14. What would make you think your life was a failure?

Business Insight

  1. What objections do you have to our product?
  2. How can we help solve your unique challenges?
  3. How does our product help you become your ideal self?
  4. What is your preferred method of communication?
  5. Are you comfortable making online payments?
  6. How concerned are you about online privacy?
  7. How can we better meet your needs?
  8. What factors might make you choose a competitor’s product/service over our product/service?

Again, this list is just a starting point. Use these to make your own. Uncover what’s important to your buyer and tailor your offering to those needs. 

Thanks and be well,
~Your Friendly Animus Rex Team

Performance Metrics will be next in the Align Your Marketing Strategy and Business Goals Series:

Start with WHY | SMART Goals | Buyer Personas | Performance Metrics | Tactics | Tracking | Analyze & Repeat | Selling Alignment Internally | Determine the Value of an Initiative | Selling Alignment Internally Conclusion

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Animus Rex builds world-class websites and provides no-nonsense, well-considered advice like this to all our clients. Want to know more, or have a question? Please Contact us. We're happy to help.