How to Create Marketing Personas

12 Point Marketing Persona Checklist

Marketing personas are imaginary versions of your prospects, customers and the public that contain in-depth, lifelike character traits, including fun names, to help develop content and marketing. Personas guide a firm’s marketing and content decisions. It’s useful to develop at least three different personas with unique traits.

12 point marketing persona checklist

Developing personas for your various market segments requires an understanding of your customer base. Here’s a list of questions to help you better know who your customers are. Bear in mind, that your goal is to flesh out these characters as if they were real people including a name.

  1. What are their demographics? Specifically, where do they live, what sex are they, how much education do they have, what is their income level, how many people are in their household and what are their needs?
  2. What is their lifestyle? This talks to their income level and how they think about spending their money. Do they buy high priced products for show or are they conservative in their spending such as keeping cars until they no longer function?
  3. What are their interests? What do they like to do in their free time? Are they religious? Do they have special hobbies like birds? Do they like to travel? If so, how and where? Do they participate in sports or follow it on various media outlets?
  4. Who influences their product choices? Are they the primary purchaser for a household? Are they the mother who does most of the shopping? Who do they consult about purchases? influencers can included their spouse or partner, children, parents, friends and other people or groups? Don’t overlook social media influences!
  5. What are their personal goals? Here’s where Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is worth considering and how it applies to your target audience. There are five tiers: self-actualization, esteem, social, safety and physiological. Where does your product fit into this scale and how does this influence buyers?
  6. What are they like from an emotional perspective? Consider their personality and related beliefs. How do they respond emotionally to positive and negative events?
  7. What are their past behaviors? How do they spend money? How does this relate to your company? What have they bought and at what point in the offering cycle (full price versus significantly reduced price?)
  8. Why do they interact with your company and your competitors? Do they like or dislike your products? What are the specifics? How do they feel about your competitors’ products? Are there stumbling blocks to buying and using your products?
  9. What do they want from your company? Are they just looking for basic products at the lowest cost? Do they want special help using them? Do they want to be actively involved as a fan?
  10. Where do they look for information about your product category? Do they go online for research? Do they use search engines? If so, how and what types of words do they search on? Do they participate in social media for shopping?
  11. What type of information do they want? Are they looking for product details, customer reviews, purchase information, product support or other options?
  12. Where are they when they look for information? For example, are they snacking in between other activities or are they researching for specifics. What type of device(s) are they using? This talks to the type of content and their content consumption habits.  Are they on a smartphone in your store or your competitor’s? What are their time constraints for content consumption and for purchasing?

3 types of data to add to your marketing personas

To help you build your marketing personas, use the following to broaden your perspective and ground them in reality.

  1. Existing data. Use internal and third party information to collect additional information about your personas.
  2. Social media interactions. Assess how these people use and interact on social media platforms. Are they lurkers, commenters or creators?
  3. Real life interactions. Who in your firm deals with these prospects, customers and the public? Include customer service, retail, sales, social media, etc.

Once you finished developing your marketing personas, share them with people in your organization to determine if they’re on track in terms of your product and related marketing. Lastly, categorize your personas and put them to work to help you develop your business strategies and marketing tactics for each product. Specify those you want to focus on, those that are okay because they’re one time buyers, and those you don’t want as customers.

Have you created personas for your marketing and content development? If so, what was your experience?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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Photo credit: preetamrai via Flickr

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  • Paula Crerar

    I’ve used personas to help me better understand my audience and focus my message, whether its for web content, datasheets, video presentations or email marketing. I’ve also used them very successfully in sales training, to help new reps get up to speed and established reps understand new markets/audiences.

    I give my personas unique names (“Influential Ina” was one of them, used at a previous company) and the sales reps adopted the names, used them in their internal conversations.

  • Sanford Hall

    I promise to adopt this strategy and see how far it will carry me with my success. Thanks for the pointers.

  • Keith Finger

    Great info. Seems logical for B2C companies. Wondering if all 12 points apply to B2B. Thoughts?

    • Heidi Cohen

      Keith– Good point! I would make the following modifications: Demographics apply to the type of firm, positioning, etc.; Interests is about where your audience’s heart is. Often the data doesn’t necessarily tell you their tradeoffs. For a business, it gets modified to does being green or chartitable matter. Hopefully this helps, Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • Lauren

    Hi Heidi,

    What is your best advice for finding the answers to the persona questions in the 12 point marketing persona checklist you provided? I am trying to get more information/create personas for individuals who would/have rented a car for leisure purposes and live in the suburbs of major cities in the US.


    • Heidi Cohen

      Lauren– To answer questions regarding marketing personas. Start by looking at your client base. If you don’t have one, then go to establishments that are similar to yours and observe their customers. This is often known as mystery shopping. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • The Plums

    We enjoyed reading your blog post on personas. We also have similar techniques if you’re interested!

  • Neema F

    Great points here, Heidi.  Piggy packing on what Lauren asked, where can I find the information to these 12 points? I have a picture of who my target audience is, but things like her interests, past behaviors, emotional triggers… how do I find these out?

    Thank you for the post.

    • Neema F

       I should also add that I have an online website and my product is both a nutritional supplement and selling information (ebooks).

  • Boudewijn Lutgerink

    I found to be a good source of info on audience demographics.

  • b2bnexus

    Great points. The Persona Checklist recently came in handy in a real-world market assessment I recently completed — all part of a larger content marketing strategy associated with each persona.

  • Sandra Winston

    i think it’s a good thought to create these persona’s, but honestly, we believe that being ourselves and maintaining a general connection with our readers gives the best results. that’s the persona that will make people trust and love your blogs or websites.

  • Kristen King

    Great article, I enjoyed the section about 3 types of data building marketing personas in particular

  • checkfloor

    self actualization is ultimate goal were we have to reach .

  • sony

    nie article……keep blogging with huge informative contents…… Make Money , Blogging Tips

  • alexflagg

    Hi Heidi, I just came across this article and found it really useful. I just posted an article about b2b Persona Marketing at It would be great to get your perspective