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In honor of Primary Intelligence’s 15th anniversary, we’re sharing 15 of our favorite items across 15 topics.

It’s like 225 thank you gifts for you, from us.

15 Ways to Make Your Buyer Personas Real

Buyer personas are fictional characters created to explain your likely target buyers. Personas are helpful for marketing, sales, and product teams to understand their prospective customers beyond simple demographic information. To make the buyer personas have impact, include these 15 elements.

Name and Photo

There is power in assigning a name and face to your persona because it helps everyone remember these personas are intended to represent a real person. It also makes it easier to discuss (e.g. “What would be the difference in how Susan approaches this product as compared to Stewart?”).

Title and Role

Assigning a title and role makes it easier to place the person in a real situation, and also for everyone to more easily spot the persona in a real situation. The role should complement the title by briefly describing what the persona is responsible for, such as: “VP of Marketing, responsible for lead generation, sales enablement, and corporate branding.”

Demographics

Including an age, income level, and location can further help bring your persona to life. Try to be realistic and specific.

Career Background

This may seem a bit odd to include, but is important because it helps inform what type of experience your persona had leading into their current role. For example, knowing that a Product Manager was previously a developer explains how they are likely to approach their product management responsibilities.

Communication Preferences

This element should describe both the channels and the types of messages the persona prefers. Do they prefer emails over phone calls? Do they like detailed written explanations or short videos explaining the product? Are they more comfortable with self-service platforms or would they prefer having someone walk them through a new concept?

Goals

It’s critical to outline the overarching goals the persona is trying to accomplish, as it informs the remaining elements in the profile. The goals should be strategic and long term, such as “increasing leads”, “reducing IT expenses”, or “improving HR onboarding processes”.

Success Factors

To help a persona solve their problems, it’s important to know how they are determining what “solved” means. What signs do they look to for understanding if they are making process? How do they know when they have reached their goals? What metrics do they track consistently?

Priorities and Challenges

This area is more specific than goals. It outlines what the persona is specifically focused on now and the issues they are facing preventing them from achieving those priorities and larger goals. Be specific, if possible. For example, “Unable to generate leads” is okay, but “Unable to generate leads because of poor website traffic” is better.

Common Objections and Perceived Barriers

This item outlines the objections the persona may give to you (or your sales group) for purchasing your solution. It also outlines barriers they may identify for why it would not be possible to purchase. Again, be as specific as possible, and push to identify root causes rather than surface-level objections.

Quotes

Include 2 to 3 direct quotes of what the persona may say (or even better, has said if you have real data to back this persona up already). This brings the persona to life, helping your team understand what it would be like to interact with this person.

Decision Criteria

Building off of the previous three items, this item identifies what items the persona will consider when making a decision. For example, someone in purchasing might focus on price and time to implement, while someone in sales might focus on the likely impact to their win rate.

Decision Making Process

This item identifies the typical process this persona goes through to make a decision. Will they make it alone or involve other stakeholders? Will they ask multiple vendors to present, or narrow down solutions after web research?

How Your Solution Benefits

This item describes how your solution helps solve the specific goals and priorities your persona faces. Resist the urge to add every benefit from your solution and just focus on those that matter to this persona.

Marketing Messaging

Now that you’ve described the persona’s problems and where your solution will help, create the general marketing messaging you will use to pitch your solution. This commonly is outlined as key talking points in bullet format.

Elevator Pitch

Using the marketing messaging defined above, craft three to four concise, clear, and impactful sentences anyone in your organization can use when communicating with this persona. This is called an “elevator pitch” because you should be able to relay this message during a 30-second elevator ride.

Our CEO has more ideas on how to make buyer personas real.