You may have heard about marketing personas or buyer personas, and how important they are to your marketing activities. If you’re panicking thinking “I haven’t got one of those” chances are you probably do in a way – you just haven’t gone through the process of “formalising” them. Many professional services firms have a ‘typical’ customer or have carved out a niche for their services within a specific sector – this is a great starting point.

What are buyer personas?

Hubspot defines buyer personas (sometimes referred to as marketing personas) as “fictional, generalised representations of your ideal customers”. Personas are all about embodying the ideal customer your business is trying to attract. As a professional services firm, there are likely to be different personas who your services are going to appeal to, so it’s a good idea to come up with a number of different personas. You can even give them names to make them seem… well, more of a person.

Here are a couple of examples of our buyer personas. You will note that their profile is made up of demographic traits such as their age, gender and job title. Personas go further than demographics though – they look at what an individual’s motivations and pain points are, and ideally why they would engage with your firm.

The Buyer Persona of Pete Miller

The buyer persona of Catherine Simpson


Why do I need them?

Quite simply, if you don’t know who you’re marketing to, you’re wasting time and money with a scattergun approach. Don’t be one of the businesses saying “everyone is in my target audience, because we offer something for everyone” and hone your offering with a Buyer Persona.

Buyer Personas are traditionally marketing tools, but they’re also useful for research and development. If you’re thinking of developing a specific offering or deal you can test it against your personas. It works in reverse too – an analysis of your buyer personas may reveal opportunities you’re sleeping on.

Working out what your target audience’s motivations and pain points are is hugely powerful and enables you to refine your general marketing message and create relevant content for the different stages of the marketing funnel. They will reveal what channels you should be using to send your message too, so you can focus on the places your target audience spends their time. You can segment your audience and run different, highly targeted campaigns with a really tailored message.

Knowing who you’re talking to also allows you to provide really great tailored service before you’ve even met a prospective client. For example, certain age demographics prefer certain contact methods. A phone call might not always be appreciated by those born after the millennium, so quick email responses might need to be a larger part of their experience with your business.
A general rule of thumb with marketing is that the more specific you can be, the better your results. It’s likely once you get started you’ll realise you need more than one Buyer Persona, and that’s really common – almost universal.

How do I create a persona?

Really good personas are built by client-facing team members, so start by thinking about who you want to include in this process. If you’re a full-service law firm, for example, you’ll want someone in every department involved in this project. The Employment Law team will have a different ideal client to the Family Law team.

Here are a handful of recommended components to help you get the most out of your Buyer Personas. There are no universal rules about what to include in your Buyer Persona. They just need to be based on your business and data.

  • Demographics (Age, Location, Job Title, Gender, Industry, Company Size ect.)
  • Motivations and Pain Points (How can your business help them?)
  • “Real” Data, such as direct quotes or feedback

If you already have an existing client base then you can analyse them for common denominators such as job title and company size. Don’t be afraid to involve your clients in this research. Email surveys are great for generating usable data.

Don’t forget, personas are about embodying your ideal customer. Think about who you like working with and who genuinely gets the most value from your services.

Once you have defined a few of your buyer personas, share them with the rest of the team. They can use the personas to understand your current and potential clients, which in turn improves service and increases conversions.

Getting your Buyer Personas finished

Useful Buyer Personas take a lot of research, and it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. Get in touch if you’d like support with market research and analysis, or subscribe to our newsletter for handy guides just like this sent straight to your inbox.

Editors Note: This article was originally posted in 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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