Using Buyer Personas & Empathy Mapping to Rock Your Digital Strategy

For years you've tried to become more and more refined in identifying exactly who your customers are so you aren’t wasting both time and money. In this article, we’re going to address two topics that don’t always get the partnership love they deserve when developing your digital marketing strategy.

Those two topics would be: 1. Developing a Buyer Persona, and 2. Empathy Mapping. Most of us have probably explored the whole “buyer persona” thing. Whether or not you use the personas in your marketing efforts is another question. The second, Empathy Mapping may be new to some. We feel they should be combined to create YOUR ideal customer. It takes time, and these personas will be revised as your campaigns and business evolves. Buckle yourself in and put on your lucky business hat, because here we go!


Buyer Personas

It’s a hot topic right now! It’s eating a habanero in the summertime hot. While everyone is trying to figure out how to generate more leads or close more deals, they are also piling on loads of data and trying to figure out their audience. This is good! Except for the fact that some do a bad job of actually putting the information they gather into practice. We’re all moving at the speed of light, which is wayyyyyy too fast to actually put a legit strategy into place.

41% of marketers do not use buyer personas.
- LinkedIn and Hubspot's Sales and Marketing Love Story Survey

There are anywhere from 1 billion to 1 billion and one buyer persona templates out there. Some of those templates take roughly 5 minutes to figure out, while others seem like they take up to a year. We believe some thought has to be put into building out your buyer persona. However, we also REALLY HATE fluffy, unnecessary information that provides us no actual value. Some examples: I don’t care that your buyer persona has a dog, UNLESS it’s relevant to your problem or solution. I don’t care that your commute takes an hour, UNLESS it’s relevant to your problem our solution. And, I don’t care that you have a job at a sandwich shop, UNLESS, well, you know, it’s relevant. 

Here are the main questions we ask when developing personas:

  • What is their role?
  • How would they describe himself/herself?
  • Professional Goals
    1. What are they in charge of or expected to manage?
  • Business Objectives and Metrics
    1. What do they want to achieve? How do they measure success?
  • Challenges/Pain Points
    1. What challenges or trends might inhibit them from reaching what they’re trying to accomplish?
  • Strategies
    1. What likely strategies and initiatives are in place to help achieve their objectives?
  • Change Drivers
    1. What would cause them to change what they're currently doing?
  • Change Inhibitors
    1. What would cause them to stay with the status quo, even if they’re not happy with it?
  • What kind of questions do they ask themselves, or search for on Google, about buying/shopping to help solve a challenge/problem they are experiencing?
    1. Build out at least 5 questions they would ask to help solve their problem

So, that’s it. Don’t get crazy. These questions will give you exactly what you need to build a persona. If you want to add some “fluff”, we’re not gonna knock you for it. Just make sure it’s high quality “fluff.” Not that cheap fluff you get from the dollar store.


Empathy Mapping

It’s hard to be a marketer and remain genuine in the eyes of the public (#marketerproblems). Empathy mapping may be implied in some of the persona exercises that you undertake, but is it really emphasized? Probably not. Personas are the personification of your customer. Empathy Maps dig into the “why” and understanding the thought processes of your customer. Simply put, empathy is understanding the emotions, feelings and thoughts of another person from THEIR perspective. NOT OURS!  There are four things we explore when developing empathy maps:

  1. Thinking
    1. What are they thinking when it comes to the benefits of what your product can offer them?
    2. What do they hope to gain by using your product?
  2. Seeing
    1. What is their worldview in the context of your product?
    2. What do they see when they view or use your product?
  3. Doing
    1. What influences them and how?
    2. What are they doing now they wish was different?
    3. What outcome would they like by using your product?
  4. Feeling
    • What are their fears?
    • What holds them back from purchasing?



This stuff isn’t new. Everyone has their own style and their own way to execute the development of their ideal customer. The danger in all of this is information and detail overload. Some are big pushers of “the more detail, the better!”. Us? Not so much. We feel in this world of data, data, data, and more data, it’s just another thing that blows our minds apart to the point where we exhaust ourselves.


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