The most effective strategy for improving the effectiveness of your website and overall marketing is to develop a detailed customer persona. A mistake that a lot of new businesses make when creating their website or other marketing pieces is that they skip the important step of developing customer personas in order to determine what type of design or messaging will be most effective at reaching their target audience.

A customer persona is a fictional representation of the ideal customer that is most likely to do business with you. In terms of the Storybrand framework, the customer persona is the character of the story. Without being able to accurately identify your target customer, the story that you present on your website will never resonate with them and they will look to do business elsewhere.

As David Spade’s character Joe Dirt famously advised when a friend of his was having trouble being profitable in his fireworks business because he was only selling the kinds of fireworks that he liked but nobody else wanted, “It’s not what you want. It’s the consumer.” The owner of the fireworks stand could have realized that sooner if he had spent time researching his customers with a customer persona questionnaire.

To develop a customer persona that can be used to help focus your marketing strategy, answer the following questions. It is best not to answer the questions yourself, but rather interview real customers, new or old. If you’re a new business and you don’t yet have any customers, you may need to do some research online, particularly social media or conduct random interviews.

If you have more than one target customer, fill out the questionnaire for each. At the end is a helpful customer persona download sheet you can use to organize the information that you gather about your customer.

Name, age, gender, location

Use this to give a name and face to your customer persona. This makes it easier to relate to them as an actual person that you are creating your website for.

What is their primary responsibility at their job?

Use this to identify job responsibilities in key words throughout your website. This question is more useful for B2B businesses as it helps to focus your messaging on the decision makers of the company that you are promoting your business to.

What problem(s) is this customer facing that lead them to searching for your product?

When discovering the problems your customer is facing, try to find the underlying issues they are facing. For example, if you are selling a password manager software, the problem on the surface may be that your customer keeps forgetting their password. However, the real underlying issues created by this is that they are wasting time and decreasing productivity while searching for their password.

What motivations may this customer be considering when deciding to purchase your product?

As in the discovery of your customer’s problems, make sure to dig deeper to find your customer’s true underlying motivations form wanting to purchase your products or services.

For example, most people don’t join a gym because they love working out. They join a gym because they aspire to greater health or appearance or because all of their friends belong. Make sure to discover your customer’s
true motivations and tap into them in your marketing. For more examples, see

How can your business help to achieve this customer persona’s problems and achieve their goals?

What specific products or services do you provide that help this customer persona solve a problem or achieve a goal and how?

Also describe how your products or services help them to solve their underlying problems and goals.

Example: “Our software helps ensure you will never lose your passwords again, saving you time and improving your online security.”

What are your customer persona’s biggest fears that may be realized if they don’t find a solution to their problem(s)?

Use this question to illustrate what your customer persona’s life would be like without the benefits of your products or services.

Example: What if they lose their notebook where they keep their passwords? What if they lose the computer they keep their passwords spreadsheet on?

What potential objections may this customer have about purchasing your product?

What may hold your customer back from deciding to do business with you? You can help reduce the risk of your customers purchasing by addressing their concerns frequently on your website with case studies, video demonstrations, data, testimonials and product guarantees.

Some examples of potential objects your customer may have that can be addressed on your website are:

  • “The product is too expensive”
  • “I doubt it will work for me.”
  • “What happens if it doesn’t work for me?”
  • “I doubt the quality is as good as they’re saying it is.”
  • “The process is going to take too long.”
  • “I won’t know how to use it once I place an order.”
  • “I’ve tried something like this and it didn’t work.”

What other companies has this customer also used to help solve their problems?

Use this question to research other companies that offer similar products or services.

What frustrates them about the other companies they have done business with?

Use this question to determine what differentiates your product from your competitors or other solutions they are currently using to try to solve their problem.

What search terms did this customer use to find your website?

Research and make sure keywords are used frequently throughout the website, primarily in the page title and headers.

What other related brands within your industry does this customer regularly purchase?

Research design trends of familiar brands within the your industry. This will also help you to discover which type of terminology is more common to your customers so you can use it in your marketing.

What other types of related media does this customer regularly engage with (magazines, websites, apps)?

These can also be used to research industry design trends as well as a provide a great resource to target for backlinks using ads, product reviews, guest posts or affiliate programs.

Putting it all together

Once all of this information has been gathered, download the Customer Persona worksheet and fill it out. Refer to it frequently to ensure that your marketing is always in line with your customer personas. Also remember that these are not set in stone. As  your business and knowledge of your customers evolve, so can your customer personas, so be sure to revisit them frequently and always keep them up to date.