Understanding Buyer Personas for Contractors

When you try to serve everyone, you end up serving no one.

When I sit down to write for a client, I actually make up something that resembles a baseball card.  Picture on the front and the stats or information on the back.  Sounds stupid to those that don’t understand how important this one piece of marketing magic is.  But, it works.

Looking over as many websites, ads and marketing materials from clients, prospects and businesses when doing research, I have to smile.  Big problems!  It is evident they don’t have a clue as to who is buying their service.  It is a shame too, because they are wasting a ton of money and worse time.

What is a Buyer Persona?

A simple definition of a web persona is: “a summary of the characteristics, needs, motivations and environment of a key type of web site user“.

A more specific definition of a personas is:

“A persona is a fictional character that communicates the primary characteristics of a group of users, identified and selected as a key target through use of segmentation data, across the company in a usable and effective manner.

Wow, that is pretty deep for a contractor to think about.  Yet a key to saving money on advertising or get better results for the same dollar, faster.

Here are two simple examples for a roofing company selling roof replacements and repairs to a residential audience.

Persona 1 – Gene:   Gene is a 55 year old school teacher who does all his research on his smartphone. He has had bad experiences with contractors in the past.  He coaches the high school basketball team.  Gene is a sports fanatic.

Persona 2 – Stacy:    Stacy is a 29 year old ad exec who has been using the Internet for 15 years and uses her Macbook, iPad and Iphone to access the web – whatever is to hand.  This is her first house.  She has never hired a contractor before, but reads all the online reviews before making a purchase.

You can see that these are quite different types of people who will have quite different needs.  Most contractors don’t even have this level of buyer persona or write to them when they develop their webpages.

If you don’t make up a basic persona, then how are you going to make a customer scenario?  A customer scenario is a set of tasks that a particular customer wants or needs to do in order to accomplish his or her desired outcome.

If Gene was your ideal buyer persona, wouldn’t make sense to think his customer scenario task would be build trust based on his “past bad experiences with contractors”?  This could also hold true with Stacy as she reviews all her buying decisions.  But, here is the thing, even though they both need reassurance, they look for them in different places.  Gene being older may look for the BBB A+ rating or Best of 2017 on a lead generation site like Angie’s List.  Where as Stacy will be looking for Google, Yelp or Facebook Reviews.

Buyer Personas and a Deep Understanding. 

This deeper understanding will help your marketing out in many ways.  Say you only ask past customers for reviews on Facebook.  You may miss opportunities to satisfy the review process with Stacy.  Being she doesn’t look for reviews on Facebook, but if you had them on Facebook, Yelp and Google, your chances are much better.  So, a smart business owner would spread his review getting game to make sure the top three are covered.

Now if Gene was your ideal buyer persona and you didn’t have a BBB+ badge on your webpages, he might just land on your super optimized website, that is ranked #1.  Skim and see no reassurance badge and leave, never to come back.  Do you think Gene is going to give your trustworthy statements of having 30 years-experience any credit?  Maybe, but not likely.

You only get this kind of understanding from creating buyer persona.

Each scenario they both have the goal of finding a reputable contractor but go about it a different way. These steps for the buyer persona can be best thought of as a system of finding “The Good Contractor”.  Understanding these methods identify the different information needs of different customer types in the buying process.

How to Develop Buyer Personas

Who are you trying to reach?

Your content, your marketing message is only as good as the leads and people it attracts. You can draw thousands of views, but if only five of them are the right people who would use your product or services, it’s a waste of your time. This is so evident on business’s Instagram Page.

Identifying who your content should be targeting will help your strategy to determine what types of topics, ideas, and keywords you should cover.

What characteristics should you identify about your audience?

  • Demographics: Age, gender, ethnicity, income, location, job title, etc.
  • Psychographics: Hobbies, interests, beliefs, habits and more.
  • Challenges They Face: What are they dealing with that would cause them to begin to search for your product or service?
  • Pain Points: What in their life is causing a disruption or what problem does your product solve?
  • Where Are They Getting Their Information: If your audience is searching for a solution to their problems where are they turning to search for information?
  • What Type of Content Do They Prefer: What content format does your audience prefer to get the information they are looking for from?
  • How Can We Help: How can the content you create help give your target audience the information they need?

Using Gene for an example, we have his age, gender, income (School Teacher) job title.  We also have his interest, what his challenge is, which leads to a pain point.  Chances are good at getting his attention on local sports pages.  Based on his age, it would be a good guess that he would respond better to images/text type ads, rather than video.

So, an ad placed in the local electronic version of the newspaper, with an attention-grabbing image with a headline that reads, “Get your New Roof by AnyWheresVille’s Only BBB A+ rated Roofing Contractor”.  Chances are pretty good Gene will see it, that is where he spends time getting local sports news and it answers his need for a reputable roofing contractor.

Now the way to get in front of Stacy, maybe a Facebook or Instagram video ad, with 5 floating stars under your business name or a number of 5 star reviews you have on Facebook, Google, Angie’s List and Yelp combined.

Where to get buyer persona information.

There are several places.  A good place to start is past customers.  What do they have in common?

When you really want to get down in finding persona, nothing beats real data.  The kind you get from Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and other insights you may have.   For me, I would rather have something that I can prove over a guess or theory of who I think is my ideal buyer persona.

Other resources:

Brainstorming: What specific problem am I trying to solve?

Survey your existing customers or clients. Try SurveyMonkey

Social listening.  Try these, Google Alerts and Mention.

Quantcast Measure (Link to)

Spy on your competitors to see who they serve. Try Owletter.

Primary and Secondary Buyer Personas

The first is for your primary audience. These are the people that are most likely to buy your product or use your services. They should be the primary focus of all the content you create.  They will tell you where and what type of ad or marketing you need to do.

Your secondary audience is made up of people who are close to being a part of your primary audience but didn’t make the cut.  Their numbers would be the second highest percentage wise on Facebook Insights for example.  If your page is getting 50% of your engagement in the 35-44 year old segment and the 45-54 and 55-64 year old segments combined are 35% the second two groups are secondary personas if you are only using demographics to establish your buyer personas.

With this information you can:

Create content that helps solve their biggest problems:

Not only will this ensure you’re actually serving your current audience, it will mean your content is far more likely to attract the right audience in the future as well.

Create and design products and services your ideal customer will love:

This is where I tell my clients to make little up-sells in their service.  If they are a roofing company offer gutter guard’s, extra ventilation, etc. Based on knowledge of what your buyer persona is telling you they want.  Payment Plans and Warranties are a good up-sell.

Market your stuff using what you’ve learned:

Your research should have revealed where your target audience hangs out online, and what types of marketing content they prefer. This gives you the best chance of reaching your target market.


Hopefully, I have done my job explaining buyer personas and why they are important in marketing your business more effectively.   How it can save you money by zeroing in on what your buyers want or need to see in your ads, websites and social media.

After you figure out your persona, read generational marketing.  It helps you make the message right for your buyers, based on an age demographic.

Need more help finding your IDEAL buyer persona?  Shoot me an email and we will see how we can save you money, time and effort.

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