How to Create Actionable Marketing Personas for your Storytelling

There are two elements to every great story: the storyteller and the one who the story is being told to.

We’re all storytellers. The way you make money, get likes, shares and truly reach people is through great storytelling. But in order to reach people effectively, you need to know whom you’re telling your story to. And that’s where marketing personas come in.


Easy steps to a Great Marketing Persona

A marketing persona is a fictional, generalized character that embodies your ideal customer. It describes their values, behavior, lifestyle, goals, needs and wants.

A great marketing persona allows you to get a far better understanding of your customer, which will help you to focus your communication to these key customers directly, making your communication far more effective.

However, the difference between a good and a great marketing persona is how much you’re able to make your persona come to life. The more you are able to get into the story behind your persona and the better you understand the character of your ideal customer, the more useful you marketing persona will be.

So let’s take a look at how you can create easy and actionable marketing personas, shall we? First, I’ll show you how to easily create an actionable persona. After that, I’ll show you some examples of how the professionals do it.

Name your marketing persona

Quite often you’ll see marketing personas being named by their job title like Small Business Owner or perhaps something a bit more clever like Urban Corporate. But the more you specify your personas and make it feel like a real person, the more actionable they will become. So instead of working with titles and clever descriptions, give your persona a real name.

Write their narrative

 Start by writing a little story about your ideal customer. There’s no need to think too much about their demographics and such just yet, just write a narrative of what a day in the life of this customer looks like. When and how do they encounter the problem your product or service is trying to solve?

Specify their demographics 

Now it’s time to get into a bit more detail by specifying the demographics of your ideal customer. Think about their background and fill in their:

  • Job title
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Education
  • Salary

I believe those are the most important demographics for 99% of the products and services out there. Of course, if it’s applicable, you can also think of topics like religion, industry and the location where you customer lives.

State their values and behavior

This is where it gets a bit more challenging. It’s time to write down what your ideal customer cares about. For this part, you really need to put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer and answer the following questions:

  • What are the values they care about?
  • What are their interests?
  • What are their main challenges?
  • What activities are they involved in?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • What do they read?
  • What do they watch?

Again, if there’s anything that you feel is of great importance for your product (like ‘what do they eat’ if you’re the marketer of a local restaurant), then make sure to fill that in as well. The more detailed you fill in the blanks, the more alive (and actionable) your persona will become.


Making it actionable

Once you’ve filled in all the blanks about your ideal customer, you’ve successfully created a marketing persona.

Now there are many ways you can visualize the persona. Simply stating all the information on a blank sheet of paper will do just fine but visualizing them in a fun and graphic way might make the persona become more real. In any scenario, always include a picture to go with your persona; a ‘real’ person has a face. 

Your marketing personas will give you a clear overview of what your ideal customer is really like. But for it to become really useful, you need to make it actionable.

Marketing message

Your marketing message is the one message that you’ll need to convey to this particular persona. To work with an example: let’s say again that you’re the owner of a local restaurant. In short you have three types of customers: the ones that visit your restaurant because they want to enjoy an extensive dinner, the ones that just want to grab a quick bite to eat and the ones that use a third party service to order your food and eat it in the comfort of their home. Now each of these customers will need a different type of approach so you’ll have different marketing messages for each of them.

The marketing message for your personas is something only you can define, because it all depends on your specific offering.

Sales pitch

Your sales pitch will flow from your marketing message. While your marketing message will be a quick one-liner that sums up your communication approach for this ideal customer, your sales pitch will describe in more detail what you will communicate to this customer to sell your product or service to him or her.


Examples of great marketing personas

All of this might sound a bit abstract still, so let’s take a look at a few good examples.

The simple persona

I like this example because it’s really a simple template. Quickly fill in the blanks and you’ll already have a clearer insight into your customer. It’s simple, it’s actionable – it works.

Simple approach to marketing personas

Credit for the example goes to Buffer’s beginner’s guide to marketing personas


The big narrative

Credit to hub spot. This example shows a really great narrative. The narrative really allows you to step into the life of this type of customer, making it much easier to understand how he should be communicated to.

strong narrative marketing persona

Credit for the example goes to Hubspot’s article on strong examples of marketing personas


The visual persona

This example is one that email marketing service MailChimp uses. While it does not give you a lot of information about the persona, it does provide you with a great reminder of who your customer really is, and then in a visualized way that wouldn’t do too bad on the office wall.

visualized marketing personas

Credit for the example goes to MailChimp and ConversionXL’s article on the topic


The extensive persona

This one is more extensive than the simple approach. I think it’s particularly useful because it includes a little narrative about the ideal customer (‘a day in the life’) but also goes really in-depth about the values, goals, and challenges of this type of customer.

extensive marketing persona

Credit for the example goes to Buffer’s beginners guide to marketing personas


Additional resources on marketing personas

Well, that was it! Want to know more about how you can create an easy and actionable marketing persona? Take a look at these great sources:

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