Make It, Don’t Fake It: Building Buyer Personas the RIGHT Way

These days, you can fake just about anything. From spray tans to Sasquatch, it’s never been easier to fabricate fiction from thin air. With all the fakery flying around, “buyer personas” tend to get a bad rap among data-driven marketers — since sometimes those personas are as fake as my nails. But just as there are good AND bad ways of enhancing your natural beauty, there’s a better way to build your buyer personas. Today on Marketing Is Broken, I’m talking with Adrienne Barnes, founder of, about how to take your personas from “faux” to “fo’ real”.

Meet Director Dana. She’s 37, lives in a 3-bedroom house on the outskirts of Big East Coast City, with her husband and their 2.5 kids. Dana works as a creative director at Mid-Size Agency, where her biggest struggle is trying to keep tabs on 5-10 projects at once.

Now, if you’re hearing this and thinking, “Dana is not real,” and/or “Dana could literally be anyone with a pulse,” then you’re right on both counts. There’s one huge problem with Dana. SHE’S NOT REAL.

Director Dana is a “buyer persona,” AKA a composite of demographic information slapped into a sleek marketing one-sheet. Little pieces of Dana might be accurate, but she herself does not exist anywhere on this planet.

So… how the heck are we supposed to market to her? Also, where’s the other half of that kid? WHAT HAPPENED TO THIS FAMILY?

Knowing your customer is crucial to successful marketing, which is why “personas” exist in the first place. They’re tools to help marketers keep their audience in mind at all times… but unfortunately, some of them are pure fiction.

If you’ve ever fallen into the trap of making up your market — or worse, been handed useless personas by a well-meaning client — then stick around for today’s interview with Adrienne Barnes. Adrienne is the founder of, where she helps companies identify and get to know their actual customers through interviews, surveys, and ongoing conversation.

Watch the episode to see Adrienne answer these questions:

  • What are the biggest benefits to using personas that you’ve seen?
  • Have you seen companies fight over different understandings of their customer or personas? What's the best thing to do in these situations?
  • What's a minimum viable process for creating personas and how do you know when you've put too much work into them?

Are your personas all shine and no substance? Own up to it in the comments — and tell me how you’re going to use this episode to fix those fakes.

Author: Josh Braaten

CEO - Brandish Insights

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