August 6, 2018

3.0 : Buyer persona development

3.0 : Buyer persona development

Dr. Aleksej Heinze, Associate Professor at KEDGE Business School (France), Visiting Lecturer, Salford Business School, UK

Before we start creating content for digital images, video, text, sound – we have to think who is this content targeted at – and this is where we have a concept of something of something that’s called a “buyer persona.”

A “buyer persona” is a fictional individual who is developed by an organization based on the organization’s researched profile of its typical customer

They don’t have to be financially transacting with your organization but they are “buying into your content”

A buyer doesn’t necessarily need to buy the content from you – so if you are a charity, that doesn’t mean that the individual has to transact with you financially – it could be simply someone who is engaging with your content or “buying into it” through the interaction that they have with your organization.

So buyer personas are created through a long history of purchase orders or interactions with your organization. And once you have defined a buyer persona, some organizations create a cardboard cut-out of that person and actually have physically that individual in the room so that whenever they are communicating to their target audience, they are actually speaking to this particular buyer persona.

A buyer persona is comprising of basic information such as their name, where they might be living, what is their current role, what are their positions within the organizations.

Basic details about your ideal customer

Key job responsibilities (for B2B), or hobbies (for B2C) likes and dislikes about job/hobbies

Persona’s influence in the purchase decision making process

So for example, in a business-to-business environment, what are the decisions that that particular individual might be involved in, what are their challenges, what are the typical issues that they might be facing on a day-to-day basis that your product and services are helping them to solve.

Persona’s primary and secondary goals

Your persona’s challenges, and the emotions that accompany those challenges

Obviously, you are also trying to understand how this buyer persona goes through a decision-making process. What are the mediums that they are consulting, what magazines? What websites do they frequent?

  • Where does your persona do their research
  • How your persona likes to absorb content
  • The messaging that speaks directly to this persona
  • And when they are on your website, what are the sections that are of most interest to them?
  • Bring your personas to life with actual quotes gathered during interviews
  • Anticipate any objections from your buyer persona during the purchase process

Colin Telford, Managing Partner, The Candidate Ltd, UK

The online buyer persona at The Candidate falls into two different areas. One of them is a “passive candidate”, somebody who is in a role or in a job at the moment, who is skilled, and who may have a motivation to move on – be it an increase in terms of their status or their par, or they are looking for an increase in terms of their salary and their renumeration.

  • Name: Passive Candidate
  • Background: Currently in employment and has a high level of digital marketing skills. Not currently looking for a new job
  • Goal: Interested in self-actualisation and earning higher wages to improve living standards

So that passive candidate exists for us in many different ways across a lot of different digital channels, and we target content and activity through our digital channels in order to tap into those types of candidates and attract them to us when they make the decision that they want to move forward and get a new role.

On the other side we have an active candidate base in terms of buyer persona. So they’re more active, more engaging, more curious in terms of the roles we’re advertising and the different messages we’re putting out there.

  • Name: Active Candidate
  • Background: Currently actively looking for employment and is interested in working in digital marketing
  • Goal: Interested in getting a job

Communication: search engines, job advert websites, social media networks, newsletters

Again, they exist in different areas and different channels and we have to try and attract those through different methods of SEO, paid-for activity in terms of the job advert boards that we’re on, or the different social media messages or newsletters that we send out as a business.

When they come in to The Candidate, we treat our different buyer personas in different ways so that we can, for example, for passive candidates, give more information and give more of a consultative approach for those candidates. But for an active candidate, they tend to know more what they’re after and the type of role that they want to move into and the next step that they want to make, so we adapt how we work behind the scenes to convert these candidates in different ways.

Marketing messages:

  • Passive Candidate – consultative nature on industry overviews, salary trends etc
  • Active Candidate – specific job details relative to the role, application advice


Practice creating your own buyer personas

This link offers you an option to download a buyer persona creation guide:

Interactive buyer persona tool

Experiment with this interactive tool for building a buyer persona (yes you have to sign up again – please use an email address that you can filter for spam emails).

Use the tool to build a buyer persona for an organisation you know very well.

Start in Journal

Additional materials

How can you get started with buyer persona?

There are a number of free online resources that you can use to create a buyer persona for your organisation.

One of the authorities in this area is HubSpot community that offer a free buyer persona template. As with many other organisations the price we have to pay for accessing their resources is to give away our email address. As with the Harvard Business Review resource mentioned in this course, we recommend that you sign up to these services perhaps with an email address that you create specifically for this course, so that you can filter out some of the spam that you might receive as a consequence of this sign up.


Tu, N., Dong, X., Rau, P., & Zhang, T. (2010, October). Using cluster analysis in persona development. In International Conference on Supply Chain Management and Information Systems.…

Virani, A. (2013). Consumer Personality Trait, Brand Persona and Brand Loyalty: a Pragmatic Study of Colgate Toothpaste Buyer. International Journal of Humanities and Management Sciences, 1, 155-158…

Pleae see chapter 3 links below:

3.1 The importance of understanding who the target audience is
3.2 Planning integration of search and social media
3.3 Keyword research for buyer persona
3.4 Social media channels for buyer persona
3.5 Develop keyword plan for a campaign
3.6 PPC keyword vs organic keyword plan
3.7 Develop social media editorial calendar