How You Should be Using Buyer Personas to Increase Your ROI

Posted in Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing, Marketing by Frank Cowell

We’ve all experienced that particular photo, story, ad, video, or song that seems to speak directly to us for whatever reason. Maybe it tugs at our heartstrings or makes us think or makes us laugh. Whatever the reason, it connects with us emotionally. We remember it, we think about it, and chances are we want to be exposed to more photos, stories, ads, videos, or songs just like it.

It’s as though whoever created the content was speaking right to us, as though he or she knew the exact buttons to push . . . and chances are that person did—and did so by clearly defining a target buyer persona to help shape his or her marketing efforts.If you haven't yet defined Buyer Personas for your organization, you should  stop "marketing" right now and do that first. To make this process easy,  check-out the Buyer Personas Guide and Templates.BUYERS ARE PEOPLE, NOT GROUPS

As a marketer, once you begin to think of your buyers as individuals with needs, desires, fears, challenges, and real lives rather than faceless, nameless mass “markets” or groups, you will become better able to concentrate your efforts and messaging on the specific paint-points likely to compel these individuals to buy from you.

Suddenly, all of your low quality or non-existent leads become bona-fide prospects.


A target persona is not a group or demographic. It’s a detailed, fictitious description of the person you’re selling to, complete with age, gender, marital status, job tile and role, a discussion of his or her motivations, values, and worldview, and even a name!

Target personas can help you decide the best methods for reaching your buyers.

  • Will you market through TV, print, radio, social media, other online venues, or all of the above?
  • What language resonates with your target persona best? What keywords grab his or her attention?
  • How can you continue the sales conversation after the initial contact to build trust and eventually close the deal?
  • What kind of content will your target persona find most valuable and be willing to share freely?

You might even have more than one target persona if your product or service appeals to a wide enough audience, but the narrower the focus the better.

The old way of defining your target market, such as “females, ages 16 to 30,” simply doesn’t work anymore (if it ever did). For today’s marketing channels, that’s too wide a demographic. You need to be more specific.

To illustrate, the messages and methods you’d use to reach out to a target buyer who is a 16-year old high school girl would vary dramatically from what you’d use to connect to a 28-year old mother of two.

  • Who is she buying the product or service for, herself or others?
  • Does she get her information via social media (and if so, which platforms), through online research, through word-of-mouth, or all (or none) of the above?
  • Who does she trust most to recommend purchase decisions—her friends and family, classmates, Mom and Dad, a spouse, co-workers, or some other trusted source?


Many marketers fear that if they define their target market too narrowly, they’ll eliminate too many sales opportunities. A bigger net always catches more fish, does it not?

Not necessarily, and catching more fish isn’t always best, at least not when you’re marketing. Too many leads, especially too many low quality leads, can divert attention and tax resources.

A well-defined target allows you to cut through the chaff, hone your message, and focus on those marketing methods likely to give you your best return on investment. When you speak to people you know will be receptive to your message, you’re almost guaranteed to generate more quality leads, not just numbers.

Un-targeted marketing, on the other hand, fails to reach pretty much everyone.

About Frank Cowell

Frank Cowell is President at Elevator, a digital brand strategy agency based in the San Diego, California area. He works regularly with CEOs, CMOs, and VPs of Marketing who are looking to create amazing brand experiences while driving inbound leads. A self-taught programmer with a deep understanding of technology, Frank enjoys a unique blend of brand development and marketing savvy that enables him to offer fresh perspectives on often-complex marketing concepts that he distills into actionable, easy-to-understand language. An energetic and entertaining speaker, Frank presents regularly to regional and national organizations on topics related to branding and digital marketing.
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