Personas in Marketing: Understanding, Types, and Creation
Valentin Huang 06/13/2023 Glossary
4 Minutes

Personas are collections of individuals sharing common patterns of behavior across different life aspects. Marketers study and classify these groups to learn insights into what motivates them to make purchases and ultimately become loyal and devoted to a brand. 

What is a Persona?

A persona can be defined as a fictional representation of a company's ideal consumer. These personas rely primarily on rigorous user research and are intended to integrate the behavioral patterns, needs, wants and objectives of target consumers. User or buyer personas can be easily created using a range of qualitative and quantitative data collected from real users of products and services.

Why are personas important?

Users and buyer personas are of great importance when it comes to effective marketing campaigns. These personas allow the business to recognize what their targeted consumer segments prefer in the market, based on their product feedback and consumer behaviors. Subsequently, businesses can use and reflect the collected information in their future marketing campaigns.

If businesses remain unaware of their target audience and their key characteristics, it will become very challenging to market and sell products and services to them. Understanding buyer personas and the target audience provides valuable insights into the consumer segments’ gender, location, age, and lifestyle trends. On the other hand, by marketing and selling products without knowing what the consumers’ pain points are, businesses are most likely to fail rather than succeed. Similarly, it is also important to know all prerequisites and product backlog.   


What details matter when building a persona?

Personas typically comprise a range of professional and personal characteristics of the ideal consumer for a company. The distinctive details chosen to establish marketing plans will ultimately depend on the type of product or service being sold. Some common details that shape buyer personas include: 

  • Potential pain points, frustrations and fears of the buyer. 

  • Demographic factors such as geographic location, gender, age and level of education.

  • Socioeconomic background.

  • Potential biases that the individual may have against the product/service or the business organization.

  • Aspirations, dreams, and goals for their personal and professional life.

  • Some of the qualities that the product must have in order to be considered worthy of purchase by the target consumer. 

Moving forward, possessing a thorough understanding of developing a comprehensive business case enables one to effectively create a credible persona. 

What are the different types of personas?

The following section of the article explains the different types of personas that can be created.

User persona

A user persona can be explained as a complete profile created from the results of market research and practical experience that outlines the key traits, needs and objectives of the intended users of the product. In the case of consumer products, the persona usually encompasses both the user and the buyer, integrating both aspects of their profile. 

Buyer persona

Particularly in the case of B2B organizations, the buyer persona plays a critical role in shaping and leading the purchasing decision. This persona can encompass multiple individuals within a company who have a considerable degree of influence and can make decisions, even if they don't personally use the product. It is important to keep in mind that the buyer persona's needs and wants, frustration and pains, goals and concerns of the buyer persona differs from those of the user persona.

Decision-Maker Persona

In a B2B context, the buyer persona represents a group of individuals who could be listened to primarily in the buying process. However, the decision-maker is usually a more specific and limited profile, most often the strategic leader of the organization. This persona is concerned with the overall impact of the decision: whether it will synchronize positively with the company's vision and mission.

Customer Persona

The customer persona refers to the central profile that represents the primary target audience of a product. It can be the user persona of a B2B product or even the amalgamation of the buyer and user personas of a consumer-centric product. Thus, the customer persona of a B2B organization can represent either the buyer persona or the user persona.

How do I create a persona?

Whether you want to create a user or buyer persona for any type of business, the following section presents a list of proven strategies that will make the process easier.

Best Practice #1: Create the user persona first 

Before investing time and energy in designing your product's strategy, it is essential to develop these user profiles. Ideally, they should exist even before you work on formulating the product vision.

Best Practice #2: Build your profile based on real people

It goes without saying that the most valuable personas do not emerge from mere conjecture and speculation. It is important to interview real people who characterize the preferred consumer segment and the product's target audience. If interviews are not possible, you can try the alternative of conducting surveys. Remember the key: the more real input you can gather, the better your profiles will be.

Best Practice $3: Use both quantitative and qualitative research.

The best user profiles contain a perfect blend of accumulated data and subjective evidence from interviews. That is, they have an equal share of personal accounts from interviews and surveys and quantitative results from market research.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do you define a persona?

A persona is a semi-fictional representation of a specific type of user or customer, based on market research and data analysis, that encapsulates the goals, behaviors, motivations, and pain points of that segment. Personas are used to help companies better understand their target audience and design products, marketing, and communication strategies that resonate with them. 

2. How do you write a business persona?

To write a business persona, follow these steps:

  • Conduct market research: Gather data on your target audience through surveys, focus groups, customer interviews, and other sources.

  • Define your target audience: Based on the research, determine your ideal customer and their characteristics.

  • Create a detailed profile: Give your persona a name, age, job title, education, income, family, interests, pain points, goals, and any other relevant information.

  • Add a photo: Give your persona a face by choosing a representative image or creating a custom illustration.

  • Define your persona's story: Write a brief biography that explains your persona's background, personality, and motivations.

  • Identify the persona's challenges and goals: Determine what challenges your persona faces in their job or personal life and what they want to achieve.

  • Validate with data: Use your market research to validate your persona and make sure it accurately represents your target audience.

  • Regularly review and update: Keep your persona up-to-date by regularly reviewing and adjusting it based on new market insights.

3. What are the four types of persona?

There are four main types of persona:

  • User persona: Focuses on the individual who will use the product or service and their specific needs and behaviors. 

  • Buyer persona: Describe the person who will make the purchase decision and his or her motivations, challenges and weaknesses.

  • Customer persona: A combination of user and buyer personas that defines both the user and the decision-maker. 

  • Decision-maker persona: Represents a specific individual within an organization who has the authority to make the purchasing decision. 

4. What should be included in a business persona?

A business persona should include the following elements:

Demographic information: Age, gender, education, income, job title, location, etc.

Behavioral characteristics: Habits, preferences, pain points, goals, values, etc.

Motivations: What drives the persona to make a purchase or take a certain action?

Challenges: Problems the persona faces in their personal or professional life.

Goals: What the persona wants to achieve and how your product or service can help them reach their goals.

Decision-making process: How the persona makes their purchasing decisions and what criteria they use. 

For a comprehensive understanding of persona and other valuable methodologies in product development and marketing, consider exploring the resources available on Harvestr.



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