Content Strategy: Defining Personas

Marketing and sales personas are useful tools for creating more targeted and effective marketing and sales strategies. Defining personas is essential in digital marketing because it helps businesses understand their target audience and create more effective marketing strategies. A persona is a fictional character that represents a specific segment of a company’s target audience, and the process of defining a persona involves creating a detailed profile of that character.

Photo by UX Indonesia on Unsplash

Photo by UX Indonesia on Unsplash

At a prior company, you could often hear members of the sales team referring to prospective customers on the phone by their personas. “Hey, I have Susan on the line, and she’s asking if we have any case studies within the healthcare sector.” The team was able to quickly respond to this request because we understood the role of the person on the phone, the business cases they were most concerned about, and the content and messaging available.

Going through the process of defining personas allows an organization to tailor their marketing efforts by better understanding their customers’ needs, pain points, and motivations, which enables them to create more targeted and relevant marketing messages. It also means more effective content, helping to create content that resonates with a target audience by understanding what customers care about, and address specific interests and concerns.

Additionally, having strong personas defined can help an organization optimize their website design, landing pages, and overall user experience. By understanding how their customers interact with their website, businesses can create a user-friendly experience that meets their customers’ needs and improves customer satisfaction with a more personalized experience.

Where to use Personas

While many organizations use the terminology around personas, fewer actually take the time to properly create, validate, and then leverage personas within their sales and marketing strategies. Here are some of the ways that personas can be used to improve your current strategies:

  • Targeted messaging: Personas can help businesses create more targeted and relevant messaging that resonates with their target audience. By understanding the needs, pain points, and motivations of each persona, businesses can craft messaging that speaks directly to them.
  • Content creation: Personas can also inform content creation by helping businesses identify the types of content that will be most valuable to each persona. For example, one persona may prefer blog posts, while another may prefer video content.
  • Advertising: Personas can also inform advertising strategies by helping businesses identify the channels that each persona uses the most and the types of ads that will be most effective for each persona.
  • Sales strategies: Personas can be useful in developing sales strategies by helping sales teams understand the needs and preferences of each persona. This can enable sales teams to tailor their approach and messaging to each persona, increasing the likelihood of a successful sale.
  • Customer service: Personas can also inform customer service strategies by helping businesses understand the types of questions, concerns, and issues that each persona is likely to have. This can enable businesses to provide more personalized and effective support to each persona.

When properly planned and executed, each company department or business unit should understand the customer journey for each persona, and have relevant departmental resources at the ready for each persona, such as case studies, FAQs, and product and services messaging and positioning.

Creating your Personas

There are vendors that specialize in working with companies to define and develop their customer and partner personas and the customer journey for each. However, the process of defining personas for digital marketing purposes involves several common steps:

  1. Conduct research: The first step in defining personas is to conduct research to gain insights into your target audience. This can include analyzing customer data, conducting surveys or interviews, and studying industry trends and market research.
  2. Identify common characteristics: Once you have gathered data, look for patterns and common characteristics among your target audience. Identify demographics, such as age, gender, and location, as well as psychographics, such as interests, behaviors, and attitudes. The more specifically you can define each persona, the better you can personalize the customer experience.
  3. Create persona profiles: Use the information gathered in the research and identification stage to create detailed profiles for each persona. Give each persona a name, photo, and a brief summary of their characteristics, such as their goals, challenges, and values. Many companies create a “battle card” layout for each persona, providing a one-page outline that your sales and marketing teams can learn and leverage in their daily customer interactions.
  4. Validate the personas: Once you have created the persona profiles, validate them by sharing them with stakeholders, such as customer service representatives, sales teams, and marketers, to see if they align with their experience and insights. Iterate on your learnings and update your one-pagers.
  5. Use personas to inform strategy: Finally, use the persona profiles to inform your digital marketing strategy. Tailor your messaging, content, and user experience to meet the needs and preferences of each persona. Regularly review and update the personas to ensure they stay relevant and accurate.

In modern digital marketing, the most effective marketing is hyper-personalized and contextual. Taking the time to define, create, and continuously improve your customer and partner personas will help your organization create more targeted and effective marketing and sales strategies, helping your business to better understand the needs, preferences, and motivations of your target audience.

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and M365 Apps & Services MVP, and an award-winning product marketer and technology evangelist, based in Silicon Slopes (Lehi), Utah. He is the Director of North American Partner Management for leading ISV Rencore (, leads content strategy for TekkiGurus, and is an advisor for both revealit.TV and WellnessWits. He hosts the monthly #CollabTalk TweetJam, the weekly #CollabTalk Podcast, and the Microsoft 365 Ask-Me-Anything (#M365AMA) series.