Knowing your ideal client personas can improve your brand’s sales, marketing, and more.

Here, you’ll find:

  • Why you should create ideal client personas
  • How personas benefit your business
  • What defines a negative persona
  • Ways to pinpoint your brand’s personas

Marketing without knowing your ideal client persona (or ICP, also called buyer persona) is like giving a speech without having a clue who’s in the audience. Sure, the message might come across, but it won’t be as successful as it would be when you know exactly who you’re addressing.

What is an ideal client persona?

Your ICP is the group of people you most want to attract to your product or service. Put another way, Hootsuite describes a buyer persona as “a detailed description of someone who represents your target audience.”

By knowing exactly who you’re trying to reach through your marketing, you can be more intentional about using messaging they understand, employing language they’re familiar with, and targeting them on platforms they’re already using. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide to defining your ICP — and why it’s worth your time.

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Knowing your ideal client persona helps personalize and humanize your target audience. (Image via Unsplash)

How knowing your ideal client persona benefits your brand

The more targeted you are in your marketing, the more likely your message is to resonate and the more likely you are to grab the right attention and interest. When you know more about your personas, you can better predict their pain points, goals, and what’s important to them.

Knowing your ideal client persona helps personalize and humanize your target audience (rather than simply considering them a faceless mass of people). This not only helps your marketing, but it can benefit your sales, product, development, and other teams as well by helping them better understand the people your company is looking to reach.

After all, if your verbiage and ad copy speak to your audience properly, you can better avoid unqualified clicks and budget spent on leads that aren’t a good fit. 

Ways to determine your ideal client persona

To identify your personas, first look at your current clients

What trends can you identify? If you don’t have much information on them outside of their names and contact info, try to work additional questions into the existing forms on your website. You could also include a survey in some of your email campaigns when it makes sense so you can have more data to work with.

You can also conduct a more formal research survey with clients and prospects. (To get the best results, it helps to mention that you’re trying to get to know them better so you can better serve their needs, which is true. You can also offer an incentive like the chance to win a gift card.) For particularly happy clients, you can even request a brief phone interview to get this information. 

When you’re gathering info, some good questions to ask include:

  • What’s your age range?
  • What are your primary job responsibilities?
  • What’s your highest level of education?
  • How many employees does your company have?
  • What publications and social media platforms do you most often read and use?

Pro tip: It’s a good idea to connect with your sales team to get additional insight on potential patterns they may have noticed about your existing clients, leads, and target personas.

What to do once you know your ideal client persona

After you’ve gathered a sufficient amount of data, you can begin defining your ideal client persona. Take the trends and patterns you’ve found, then see how they stack up against what you thought your ideal client persona was, if you already had one in mind. 

Do they make more or less money than you thought? Are their roles and responsibilities slightly different? These are things you can nail down at this stage.

From there, you can use a tool like Hubspot’s Make My Persona to bring your persona, figuratively, to life. You can give them a name, face, job title, personal details, and more. Next, share this persona (or personas) with your team and discuss how you all can better implement this persona in your processes moving forward. 

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When your personas are fleshed out, you can create content that better pinpoints problems, aligns with common goals, and takes each buyer stage into consideration. (Image via Unsplash)

Creating multiple personas

Unsurprisingly, personas often aren’t one size fits all. Most brands don’t have one single ICP with one specific job and set of demographics. Rather, they have a few key personas they target that cover a variety of regions, industries, or other attributes. 

By creating multiple personas, you don’t pigeonhole your targeting too narrowly or overlook potential audience segments that are well worth your time.

It can also be beneficial to create a few “negative buyer personas.” These are the personas that may seem like those you want to target, but they’re actually not the right fit for one reason or another. Maybe they work at too big of a company, have too small of a budget, or just aren’t at the right stage of their career. 

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Other ways to use your ideal client persona

As mentioned above, your ideal client personas can inform multiple aspects of your business. You can use them to create more personalized, segmented emails and to inform content creation. When your personas are fleshed out, you can publish content that better pinpoints problems, aligns with common goals, and takes each buyer stage into consideration.

Thanks to advanced digital targeting tools, knowing your ICP can help you better target your paid search, social ads, and more. These personas can also help your sales team craft better, more nuanced sales pitches, and even lead you in the right direction when it comes to making difficult business decisions. 

Revisiting your ideal client persona

As your business evolves, so too might your personas. That’s why it’s wise to revisit your ICP regularly. You can do this quarterly, semi-annually, yearly, or as frequent as it makes sense for you and your team. 

When revisiting, look at your current ideal client persona and ask questions like:

  • Are these still the job titles we want to target?
  • Is this still the business size we want to go after?
  • Are these still the platforms our audience is using?
  • Have our ICP’s business goals changed?
  • Does our ICP line up with the majority of our clients? If not, how can we get better aligned?

The takeaway

With fierce competition, an unpredictable business climate, and rapidly changing technology, it’s more important than ever to stay hyper-focused on your target audience.

By building a few solid ideal client personas, you and your team can ensure you’re aligned when it comes to who you’re speaking to, how you reach them, and what avenues you use to connect with them.

This article has been updated and was originally published in June 2020.