What CMOs Need To Know About Buyer Personas

Who is your customer? One tool marketers frequently use to answer this question is buyer personas. A buyer persona is a fictional character used to give marketers and others a mental image, a story, of who their marketing to, selling to, and serving. When used correctly, buyer personas can make the creation of marketing strategies and campaigns straightforward and clear, unleashing the power of the smart creatives in your organization. When they’re used incorrectly, or not used at all, the lack of effective buyer personas can make marketing efforts feel useless, as though nobody is listening. CMOs who understand how to correctly incorporate buyer personas into the marketing process will see their teams energized and more importantly, they’ll see bottom line results.

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A simple persona for a project management software company might look like this:

Jennifer is 32 and is a senior front end developer at a web design firm. She lives in Southern California and each work day she commutes 15 minutes by car to a park and ride lot and then rides the metro for an hour and 10 minutes to within a 5 minute walk of her employer’s office. She is typically involved in anywhere from 5 to 10 projects at once. As a senior developer she deals with a fair amount of project and account management duties, often acting as the communication hub between the firm’s clients, who are global, and the rest of the front end development team, which includes 12 team members working in 3 countries and 5 time zones. She’s married, has a dog, and goes trail running with her dog three days each week, before going into work. Her employer gives her a high level of flexibility with regards to work hours, which can act as a double-edged sword due to the need to communicate with team members at odd hours.

How might this persona affect the decisions the project management software company makes with regards to its marketing? If the company wants to land Jennifer as a customer, they should tout the mobile friendly aspects of their software, because someone as active as Jennifer, who has to respond to requests at all hours of the day and night from both clients and team members, is likely to be mixing her professional and personal lives on a minute by minute basis. She doesn’t have time to get an update on her phone and then get to a computer where it’s easier to update the project management system–she needs to be able to easily manage things whether she’s out running, at dinner, or commuting. If the company’s software can enable Jennifer to better live her active and flexible lifestyle, and they can effectively communicate this through its marketing, they’ll generate positive response from customers who have the same needs and desires as the fictitious Jennifer.

Of course Jennifer represents just one persona for this imaginary project management software company, and the decisions made to cater to that persona will need to be balanced with others. But even this simple example shows how by developing buyer personas, marketers can better understand the needs of their customers and create marketing that touches on what those customers care about. With a persona in place, marketing team members can consider the messaging and campaigns they’re creating and ask “How would Jennifer respond to this? Why would she care?”


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Written by

Jordan Kasteler is a freelance consultant, entrepreneur, and the Digital Marketing Strategist for the agency, MWI. He has a history of entrepreneurship co-founding such companies as BlueGlass Interactive. His work experience ranges from in-house SEO at, marketing strategy at PETA, and to agency-level digital marketing.. Jordan is also an international conference speaker, writer, and book author of A to Z: Social Media Marketing.

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