By Barbra Gago published April 13, 2011

4 Questions Answered about Buyer Personas

Are you developing buyer personas for your B2B content marketing efforts? A number of CMI contributors have tackled the topic of personas because it’s one of the most important things you can do. Those posts do a great job helping you get started, but today I want to answer some questions I frequently hear about persona development and provide you with a template.

What information should be included in a persona?


Here is the template of the persona I use that includes the following information:

  • Title
  • Time in the job
  • Works directly with
  • Daily tasks
  • Responsibilities
  • Likes/dislikes about job
  • Frustrations
  • Pressures
  • Concerns
  • Needs
  • Role in buying process
  • Buying stage
  • Drivers

To help people relate to your personas, add images and give names to your buyer profiles.  Assigning a name to the persona helps everyone on the team think of this buyer as a real person, not just a piece of business.

How many personas do I need?

In B2B, most decisions are made by committee, so you need to develop a persona for each member of the decision making process. For many organizations, this means there will be several distinct personas:

  • Initiator
  • Influencer
  • Decision-maker
  • Buyer
  • User
  • Gatekeeper

If you sell multiple products or services with different audiences, you’ll need personas for each of these.

Specific personas are needed for each of these groups because you want to engage with them differently. Different personas enter the buying process at different times, and they care about different things.

For example, a VP or C-level executive who may be the ultimate decision-maker, may not enter into the “buying process” until the very last stage. This person is likely interested in product comparisons, case studies and cost justifications. Compare this to the “initiator” who is the first person your company is likely to engage with.  This person is likely interested in non-product-specific information that explains the overall problem/solution, such as market research and eBooks.

Here are some ideas from Tom Pisello on what types of content make sense for various stages of social media.

I don’t have time to create all of these personas. What do I do?

While it’s ideal to have specific personas for every person involved in the buying process, if you have limited time or are getting started, take baby steps.

Start with two or three key personas, and work through the process. For example, if you are selling  technology, consider focusing on your end users, their managers and the IT liaison between that user group and the corporate IT group. This way, you cover “the user,” the “influencer” and the “buyer.”

Then, once you’ve nailed those core personas, move onto the peripherals such as the “gate keeper” or “influencer.” Ultimately it depends on your goals, but the important step to go through is the exercise to really get to know your buyers.

Which departments in my company should be aware of my personas?

While developing personas is primarily a marketing exercise, it’s critical you document this information for your entire company.

  • In the age of social media, anyone in your organization could engage with prospects, so you want everyone to be using the same information.
  • Personas are a great educational tool for new hires.

As a suggestion, you can host “lunch and learns” to train different groups within your organization on the buyer personas and how what you’ve learned about your buyers specifically relates to them and what they do.

Again, making your personas as personal as possible with images and names will help others in your organization relate to these people.

These are some of the questions about buyer personas I hear most frequently. What other questions do you have? Let me know in the comments below!

Other posts in this series:

Author: Barbra Gago

Barbra Gago is the Director of Demand Gen Strategy at LeftBrain DGA. She's expert at developing buyer 2.0 personas, mapping content that engages buyers throughout their buying process, developing social media strategies that drive revenue, and using marketing automation for compelling lead nurturing and effective lead scoring. You can follow her on Twitter @BarbraGago.

Other posts by Barbra Gago

  • http://www.russhenneberry.com/ Russ Henneberry

    Fantastic Article Barbra. I love that you developed a template to share with us. Thanks very much for writing this!

    • Anonymous

      Your welcome Russ! Thanks!!

  • http://www.reportcontentwriter.com/ Rachel Agheyisi

    Good tips! Thanks, Barbra for sharing. It’s always helpful to have a reasonably clear impression of the target audience for any information. I find it to be a practical way to improve content relevance.

  • http://twitter.com/buyerpersona Adele Revella

    Thanks for sharing great information about the importance of buyer personas Barbara. One of the concepts I’m trying to add to this conversation is the need for insight into how a buyer judges and relates to the product we are marketing to them. I call this the Product Persona Connection and wrote about it on a recent blog post at http://bit.ly/gUag9t. There is also a freely available template for that part of the persona at http://www.buyerpersona.com/buyer-persona-templates.

  • http://twitter.com/sjohnson717 Steve Johnson

    You failed to mention the reason for personas. They remind our developers, sales people, marketers, and executives that WE are not users or buyers. Our buyers and users look like THIS and not like THAT.

    One of my favorite examples is Sarah, the college freshman. Planning to graduate in 2014, she was born in 1992. Yes, 1992. For Sarah and her peers, Benny Hill, Sam Kinison, Sam Walton, Bert Parks and Tony Perkins have always been dead. Few in her class know how to write in cursive. If you are developing products for or marketing products to this group, their college experience is probably very different from yours. Learn more about college kids at http://www.beloit.edu/mindset/2014.php

    So personas are used to provide context to anyone within your company who is developing for customers. A persona is a biography of the ideal, archetypical client.

  • guest

    Can one persona transcend or be applicable to multiple products offered by the same company

  • Really?

    Sounds like copy right infrigment on Miller Heiman Blue Sheet.

    • http://everythingishistory.com TamahomeJenkins

      I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

  • Kristen King

    Great Article Barbra!

  • Terri Pierce

    Very helpful article. Thank you!

  • susand333

    Interesting record keeping and easy to understand. Thanks!