Updated for 2020

Picture this…

You’re making your way down the street to pick up some lunch at your favorite neighborhood eatery.

You reach out to open the door and someone quickly hands you a flyer: “Free Coffee Roasting Class” from a new coffee shop in town.

Unless you happen to be a coffee aficionado, there’s a 90% chance your next move is to throw away the flyer before you finish reading further details.

This advertiser did not target the right customer and wasted an opportunity.

Small business buyer personas are the building blocks to identifying your target audience and are crucial in your marketing. Without these personas, even if you’re creating effective Facebook ads, you’ll be speaking to the wrong crowd much like our example above.

The cardinal rule of buyer personas (or customer avatars, audience persona, or customer profiles as they’re also referred):

“Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.” – Dale Carnegie, How To Win Friends And Influence People

This is because buyer personas help us narrow down to what our target customers actually want…

…it’s not an opportunity to brag about how great your products or your brand is.

Small Business Buyer Persona: The building blocks of marketing

This guide will teach you how to target your customers online by creating detailed buyer personas to identify your target customers for your small business.

Again, knowing to whom you’re talking to will make it easier to drive leads through your small business conversion funnel and eventually get the sale.

Use these customer profiles in all areas of your marketing:

  • Digital advertising – how will you write your ad copy, design your ad images, target your customers?
  • Content marketing – what kind of content will you create that speaks directly to your customers’ needs?
  • Email marketing – how will you design your email campaigns to nurture each buyer persona?
  • Social media marketing – what kind of social posts will you create to engage your target audience?

What is a buyer persona?

A buyer persona is a detailed profile for a segment of your target audience that provides insights for crafting your product offers and messaging.

Ideally, you’ll want to create personas for every segment of your target audience that you deem valuable because the messaging and offers to those segments will be specific to them.

These personas help to identify your target audience online by listing important information:

  • Demographics
  • Interests
  • Goals
  • Challenges
  • Values
  • Objections

Buyer personas narrow down your marketing message to speak directly to your customers. Each buyer persona warrants creating a unique marketing message.

As the old marketing adage goes: if you speak to everyone, you speak to no one.

How to create a buyer persona

A buyer persona has 5 key sections. We’ll go through each section below in detail…

Here are three important points to keep in mind:

  1. You should ideally survey your customers for the information
  2. Extract data from your team and online resources
  3. Come up with educated guesses when you have to

Let’s use the example of the failed coffee advertiser from above.

Start here

Buyer Persona Marketing

Let’s say this cafe also has a monthly coffee bean subscription product and wants to get more signups.

Therefore, we reach out to the low hanging fruit by targeting individuals who already show a strong affinity towards coffee and single origin coffee beans.

First, we’ll start with a name, Single Origin Sam… (catchy right?)

Demographics and Interests

buyer personas demographics interests

In this first section, we fill in the demographic information and interests of your ideal customer.

Based on the demographic information we’ve gathered from various cafes in the area, we know that 25-34 year olds tend to frequent nearby cafes, the majority single males, who bring their laptops in for work; generally web development.

In terms of interests, customers come from a hip part of town with plenty of innovative restaurants and craft beer bars. Many brew coffee at home themselves using an Aeropress or Hario V60.

This love of coffee means they subscribe to very industry specific blogs and social media accounts as well as attend certain coffee events in town.

Notice how a big chain like Starbucks doesn’t appear; that’s because they’re a household name and not a targeted interest.

Just about anyone (coffee lover or not) can like Starbucks, so running with them as an interest might be too broad.

We want to get specific…

Now our buyer persona has come to life! But, let’s dig deeper…


buyer personas goals

Goals are the objectives our buyer persona wishes to achieve which we as marketers can leverage to craft an irresistible offer.

Given the information on our target audience, we know that Single Origin Sam would be interested in finding a coffee shop specializing in single origin coffee beans.

Customers with an affinity to single origin beans also have a preferred roast and freshness matters are whole beans go stale soon within 3-4 weeks from roasting.

Many home coffee brewers at this level also tend to take up a hobby of roasting, so the learning curve presents our coffee shop with an opportunity to market to them with a free coffee roasting class.

So we know Single Origin Sam’s goals, but do our values align?


buyer personas values

Values are the prerequisites that our ideal customers have that confirm their willingness to do business.

Within the third wave coffee community, customers lean towards local, small businesses.

Environmentally friendly and artisanal skills are preferred; therefore quality matters. Online ordering is a plus for aficionados wanting consistent deliveries.

What challenges does this buyer persona face?


buyer personas challenges

What challenges or pain points stand in the way of your target audience?

Single Origin Sam has a tough time making time during the week to explore his coffee hobby. Could weekend events entice him?

Finding a local coffee shop selling both green and roasted beans online show buyer intent. Are you offering the accessibility?

He’s challenged with having the skill to roast like a professional. A perfect foot-through-the-door offer can be made to address this pain point.

These pain points can be addressed, but, what objections would Single Origin Sam have towards taking up your offer?


buyer personas objections

Objections are the reasons your ideal customer would say no. Are you addressing these objections?

We know based on his values, this buyer persona prefers environmentally friendly businesses selling high-quality products. Based on his goals, fresh whole beans are a must.

Our customers also prefer the feel of a local, small business; not the overly salesy approach of big chains.

Address all buyer persona objections in your marketing message to encourage sales.

Where to get buyer persona data

The data that goes into creating a buyer persona is crucial. As mentioned above:

  • Survey your existing customers
  • Survey customers of competitors
  • Discuss with your internal sales teams
  • Search through online resources such as Quora or Reddit
  • Look at your Google Analytics, Facebook’s Audience Insights, and other platform analytics used in your business
  • Use your best judgment

Create multiple buyer personas

Remember, don’t be the failed advertiser that hands out flyers. Test multiple buyer personas in your marketing. Each persona will have unique targeting and messaging.

Are you ready to begin narrowing down the focus of your marketing?

Begin by creating buyer personas for your business…

Download the Buyer Persona Template

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