Buyer Persona (non Grata)

Developing concise, accurate descriptions of your target buyers – a Buyer Persona – is a simple exercise that can help focus and align your marketing and sales efforts.  There is a whole organization dedicated to this process.  It is a great way to connect marketing with what sales team is seeing and hearing as they work the market.

Developing a Buyer Persona

To develop one or more Buyer Personas – two is about right for an early stage company – identify the economic buyer/decision makers in in your target prospects by:

  1. Title
  2. Role
  3. Pains, problems, challenges
  4. Motivations (Economic, psychic, power)
  5. What generates a personal win for them?  What do they want to avoid?
  6. Their background (Education, experience)
  7. The culture they swim in

Write 1/2 page bios for your Buyer Persona, share these with your team and collect input on them.  I like to back these persona descriptions up with discovery interviews with existing and potential customers.  These interviews can be driven by 1/2 a dozen open ended questions and conducted in about 30 minutes.  1/2 a dozen interviews can generate powerful insights about your buyers.

Buyer Persona and the Buying Process

You can take your Buyer Personas and create a matrix that analyzes how each will respond through a few buying phases – again, keep this down to 3 – 4, so as to manage complexity.  For example, these phases might be:

  1. Education
  2. Evaluation
  3. Negotiation

You can then develop marketing content that targets each of these phases for each of your buyer persona.  Now, this is a radical simplification of the actual sales process but, if you have two Buyer Persona, this will result in 6 categories or content, which is about as much as a lean marketing effort can handle.


  1. Sound advice.Know your constituency deeply, if you wish to win.

  2. Hi Hugh — I love the “lean marketing” term and appreciate the link to my site. Many marketers are learning that the time spent on a few interviews is easily recovered in the increased productivity they gain. There’s nothing like showing up in a stakeholder meeting with the ability to say “This is what the buyers are telling us. So here’s the plan.”

    Getting lean is all about reducing the number of marketing deliverables to those which will have a real impact on sales results! Thanks for talking about my favorite way to make that happen.

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