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5 Steps to Building Your First Buyer Persona

[fa icon="clock-o"] Jun 16, 2016 2:18:59 PM [fa icon="user"] Jonah Story


Building buyer personas has become increasingly difficult because there is a lot of pressure on doing it perfectly. Have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t make perfect the enemy of good?” This couldn’t be more true in this situation.

So, how do you approach buyer personas?

First, understand that you’re only creating a first iteration at the beginning - not the final version.

Crawl before you walk. The first iteration of your persona is what you will continue to build on as you progress. With this in mind, you should already be feeling less pressure. Now let’s review some tips to help you get off to a good start with your first iteration.

1. Create a List of Segments

You more than likely have several different types of customers, and one persona will not represent them all. That’s normal. Among your customers, there are different groups that you can use for organization. We call these “customer segments.” A few simple options for creating customer segments are:

  • By the main product or service they use
  • By location or industry
  • By painpoint or core needs

2. Delegate Segment Leaders

Each segment will have at least one persona to represent them. Consider this persona as the general description of who might be their elected segment leader. You might feel the need to create more than one leader, but focus on selecting only one for now. You can add more leaders later. Write down a fake name for each of the chosen segment leaders. Choose any name you want for now. You can always be more creative later. 

3. Identify the First Persona

Now that you have a list of segment leaders, you need to select only one among them all to build the very first persona around. This could be as simple as random selection, or as strategic as choosing the persona who makes the best customer. Eventually, every segment leader will have a persona, but choosing only one is the best way to keep this process moving

4. Go for Low Hanging Fruit

It’s time to create the first iteration persona. In short, this begins with a decent description of the particular leader, without any major editing or rewriting. Get started by citing their possible age range, gender, level of education, location, first language, etc. This is the best way to get your mind going. 

5. Keep Your Humanness  

My greatest piece of advice in creating buyer personas is this: the best way to build terrific personas is to maintain the human element. It sounds obvious, but it’s often forgotten. Many marketers get so focused on executing bottom-lines and closing deals, on behalf of our brand, that we forget the basics of simple human interaction. The constant bombardment of processes, systems and frameworks sometimes keeps our brains locked on efficiency instead of human decency.

Another way to examine this is to consider how you interact with your colleagues versus how you interact with your best friends. While sometimes these people are the same, I know my tendency is to be more efficiency-focused when at work and more relationship-focused while at home. Find a balance as you craft each persona. Truly and deeply think about each person you are writing about as if they are your neighbor, friend or family member.

One way I push myself in this area is by searching my Linkedin connections and Facebook friends for the photo I plan to use for the persona I’m building. It really helps!


Building personas can be an enjoyable exercise in breaking away from sales numbers and instead connecting with your customers as humans.

This blog only scratches the surface of getting organized and started, which is why we’ve created an ebook that will help you dig deeper and create beautiful, well-formatted buyer personas that you can share with your entire company.



Jonah Story

Written by Jonah Story

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