Persona Canvas

Content HarmonyPersona canvas is a strategic tool to gain customer insights.

This post is derived from the post written by Content Harmony, A Bootstrapped Guide to Validating Your Customer Persona.

Persona Canvas Complete Guide

Persona canvas is a strategic tool to gain customer insights. Working through the buyer persona canvas is a smart use of your time.

The persona canvas is usually an exercise that can be further supported by an empathy mapping. I find the two exercises to be interchangeable in regards to order.

The last time I wrote about the process of building a persona was a few years ago. It was much less detailed then the process outlined below.

Over the last few years I have been able to wrap my head around the topic a bit more, and once I found the awesome resource written by the content marketing agency you’ll learn about below, I thought this was a good opportunity to write about the persona canvas and persona development process again.

Persona canvas sections

Content Harmony breaks down the in-depth persona with the following outline:

  1. Photo
  2. Backstory
  3. Psychographic Attributes
  4. Demographic Identifiers
  5. Their Goals & Motivations
  6. Their Roadblocks
  7. Their Sales Objections
  8. Their Quote

Let’s dive a bit deeper into each item from the list.

Persona Canvas Photo

This should be a real photo of an actual customer from your market!

persona photo

Persona Canvas Backstory

These are individual facts that make them unique. Bring the damn persona to life. Don’t make them generic mannequins.

What’s the backstory of the persona?

  • Workplace
  • Industry experience
  • Level of knowledge
  • Professional history
  • Pastimes and hobbies

What sources provide data on the persona backstory?

  • Existing primary research
  • CRM data
  • Social profiles of similar people
  • Experienced sales team members
  • Keywords & terms analysis

Psychographic Attributes

These are characteristics of the persona. It serves to create a “stereotype” (a good thing here).


  • Social behavior offline or online
  • Social media preferences
  • Level of digital fluency
  • Profession and industry
  • Content preferences and consumption habits
  • Favorite industry sites
  • Receptivity to content in different scenarios
  • Content channel preferences and behaviors
  • Function and title
  • Personality type
  • Level of energy/activity
  • How long they take to buy
  • Attention span
  • Introvert or Extrovert
  • Spender or penny-pincher?
  • Someone who shares or hoards?
  • Cultural preferences (Music, movies, books etc.)
  • Activity preferences (hiking, walking, eating out, reading)

Data Sources:

  • Experienced sales team members
  • Content audits
  • Competitive audience research
  • Existing primary or secondary research
  • Email marketing analytics
  • Web analytics
  • Specialized community and forum conversations
  • Nielsen Prizm
  • Magazine media kits
  • Online ad display planning tools
  • Social analytics


How do we find them?

Uncover the common characteristic data points (generally the easiest to find) to use for identifying an audience in a database. The classic example is you should be able to use these criteria to pull an email list.


  • Age
  • Gender
  • Title
  • Training
  • Degree
  • Salary range
  • Geographic location
  • Marital status
  • Family status
  • Type of neighborhood they live in
  • Car they drive etc…

Data Sources:

  • CRM data
  • Existing primary or secondary research
  • Nielsen Prizm
  • Competitive audience research
  • Magazine media kits
  • Online ad display planning tools
  • Social analytics

Goals & Motivations

What the reason behind their behavior?

Describe the goals, needs or problems they have that make them a fit for your brand or your products and services. What are their options for fulfilling this (Note: this depends, so it’s not part of the examples below)?


  • Performance measures that have to be hit
  • Professional reputation objectives
  • Brand reputation objectives
  • Product objectives
  • Efficiency and process needs
  • Insufficient resources or a team that lacks experience, knowledge, and talent
  • A CEO who put new expectations on marketing and they’re not equipped

Data Sources:

  • Experienced sales team members
  • Existing primary research
  • FAQs
  • Help desk emails

Persona Roadblocks

What problem and roadblocks do they run into when they try and achieve their goals?


  • Management doesn’t really understand
  • Company reorganizes every 6 months and responsibilities change
  • They work in such a niche industry or role, nobody can help
  • They don’t understand the problem or potential solutions well enough
  • They’re very averse to risk and any kind of loss

Data Sources:

  • Pull in actual quotes from sales emails and customer support tickets
  • Experienced sales team members
  • FAQs

Persona Sales Objections

What are their major “deal killers” when buying from you?

Why do they usually reject or turn away from companies in your industry when making a purchase decision?


  • Not established enough
  • Not a good personality fit
  • Cost too much
  • Poor perceived quality

Data Sources:

  • Pull in actual quotes from sales emails and customer support tickets
  • Experienced sales team members
  • FAQs

Persona Quote

Give them a quote that defines their point of view.

What kind of statement would they make that you hear over and over from people like this?


  • “My goal is to reduce employee churn by 20% next year, fix our exit interview process, and find a new payroll and benefits management system that will cut down our department’s manual data entry and support time.”

Data Sources:

  • Pull in actual quotes from sales emails and customer support tickets
  • Experienced sales team members
  • CRM data
  • Existing primary research

Persona Canvas Resources

Using personas for executive alignment

Up close and persona

Building audience personas

Persona-driven keyword research

Persona online tool

Customer persona tools

User Persona Tool Review



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