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Buyer persona: why it’s critical for online marketing success.

October 24th, 2011  |  Published in Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing

Define your buyer persona for online marketingIn the olden days, one of the essential questions that had to be answered in order to plan, develop and implement effective marketing was “who is the target prospect?

It may seem a bit fundamental but a clear and definitive answer to this essential question frequently determines the success or failure of any marketing effort. Now, with the proliferation of social media and the focus of online marketing, this question has never been more relevant or required to be answered as thoroughly as possible.

Create content for the center of the bulls-eye.

In today’s rapidly changing marketing environment, the “target prospect” has been replaced with a “buyer persona.” In a nutshell, a buyer persona is a distinctly defined potential customer. Think of it as an archetypal person that you want your marketing message and benefits to reach.

This persona should include these essential demographic and behavioral attributes: Title, income, education, skill sets, organization type, industry, preferences, likes/dislikes, habits, geography, and any detailed characteristic that helps pinpoint your understanding of their needs, situation, condition and aspirations.

In B2B, most decisions are made by committee, so you need to develop a persona for each member in the decision making process. For many organizations, this means there will be several distinct personas. And as Barbra Gago, Director of Demand Gen Strategy at LeftBrain DGA,  points out they may include the following persona types:

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


If you sell multiple products or services with different audiences, you should consider creating personas for each prospect in the buying process.

Listening to persona can be very rewarding.

Creating the right kind of content that your prospect or buyer persona is interested in can be accomplished if you invest the time to listen to them, discuss the problems that you can solve for them and serve it up in the channels and methods in which they prefer to find it. It’s essential to be able to use their words, not your own so that your marketing is genuine and not centered around your issues, your biases or product features that may not be relevant.

Anyone creating a persona for marketing should include the perspective of the people touching your buyers on a daily basis—the sales team. And as any qualified sales representative will tell you, there are usually multiple persona profiles that change through the sales process.

So the marketing content that you plan, create and deploy should align with each of these persona and how it meets their needs as they move through a sales funnel from a suspect to prospect to a converted and paying customer.

Lee Oden, CEO, TopRank Online Marketing, expands on the value of a buyer persona and how to utilize it as a strategic component to your online marketing.

Who are you talking to?

Are you defining your target prospect with a detailed buyer persona before you begin any content creation? Please share your tips and/or best practices.


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Paul Pruneau, and Teamworks Communications, Inc., develop communications and brand strategy, engineer content to express customer value, and create integrated online and Content Marketing solutions to help businesses succeed. Follow Paul on Twitter, connect on Google+, send an email or just call 415.789.5830.

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