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What to Include in a Good Marketing Buyer Persona

Authored April 2023 by Tim Campbell-Smith

2 minute read

A buyer persona is a " fictionalized characterization of your best customer(s) based

on information about them and how they use your product or service." (Shopify). It's

a way of imagining or using data to create details about someone who would buy

your product or service so that you can tailor your efforts. 

While some say buyer personas aren't useful, many are saying they are more useful than ever before. What tends to be missing from the conversation, and I think why they're looked down upon, is because they are not actionable.


Buyer personas must be actionable: they must provide details marketers and business owners can act upon, use, influence, or will influence, purchase behaviours. 

While at the bottom of this article I have a downloadable guide of samples and inclusions (or click here to go get it), let's review some actionable parts of buyer persona, and how they could influence your marketing. 

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A sample buyer persona with text explaining marketing details

Income Level: How much disposable income do they have? How do they view money? How much do they make in relation to the average income of residents? How much disposable income they have will dictate what they spend it on. For example, are they budget conscious with groceries, or do they go out of their way to purchase fresh produce from local farmer's markets? 

Living Situation: Urban setting or rural? Apartment or house? How we live impacts the things we buy and where we place them. 

Hobbies: These are extremely revealing. Are their hobbies done alone, or in groups? Are they active and require movement, or are they passive? Do they cost money? Why do they engage in that hobby? For example, someone might like photography because they like being out in nature, which is very active but often a solo activity. 

Guilty Pleasures: Guilty pleasures are things we like but think other people don't like, and most people have one. This is also revealing because it shows something we love or hold in high regard, and also reveals what a person perceives other people not liking. We can also inquire as to why someone likes that guilty pleasure.

News Sources: Where people get their news from tells us about social media usage, views on news, media and government, and what they are, or aren't, willing to spend money on. If someone gets news from TikTok, chances are they're not learning much new. But if they get it from, say, The Globe and Mail, it means they have income to spend and are willing to spend money on specialized journalism.

Psychology Results or Tests: Any kind of personality tests completed by your persona or that help shape your persona can be revealing. You may want to consider Myers Briggs, Enneagram, True Colours or Strengths Finder. These will give you details like how adventurous someone is, who they like spending their time with, how they make decisions or goals.

Age: As a marketing consultant, I actually *always* start with this detail. Age will tell us about generations, and generational psychology and behaviours massively influences marketing. It will also suggest career level (someone who's 22 will be new to a career, someone who's 57 will be thinking about leaving), income level (based on career progression), social media usage and so much more.

The list goes on and on, but one thing remains constant: buyer personas must be actionable. As I tell my students when I teachone buyer persona will make a purchase for a very different reason than another. We must honour and respect these differences, and plan for it in our marketing. Two examples: 

  1. A 19 year old university student will buy alcohol from the LCBO for a very different reason than a 60 year old lawyer. The 19 year old is probably buying it for a party, and as a Gen Z member we should focus our marketing messaging on collective excitement. However, a 60 year old lawyer may buy a bottle of wine for dinner with her wife, so it's more about a small, intimate experience. 

  2. A 28 year old newcomer to Canada will use a bank for a very different reason than a 16 year old. The 28 year old is trying to get settled, put their money somewhere and connect to others, which an advisor can do and would spend more time on. A 16 year old just wants to open the account for their new job, and are focused on something else. 

In both of these examples we have the same product or service, but marketed in different ways to different people.

Always, always make sure your buyer persona is actionable.

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