How a Negative Buyer Persona can be a positive for your small business and personal branding





Buyer personas are clear representations of your ideal customers. They help you identify who they are and what matters to them so you can market and sell to them more effectively. A Negative Buyer persona is the exact opposite of your ideal customer; that is to say - a customer you don't want. It may sound strange identifying these personas, but creating your negative buyer persona will help you identify who you shouldn't spend time marketing and selling to and allow you to concentrate on those who will most likely buy from you.


We’ve all experienced that type of prospect. Someone who clicks your website, reads all your content, likes every Facebook update and maybe even comments on your blog posts —all with no apparent intent of actually making a purchase. Unfortunately, these so-called "leads" will never buy your products or services. Maybe they just don't have the budget, or they're a student consuming your content. When a small business gets caught up in a possible sale they can easily miss the red flags of a bad client or someone who isn't their customer. These bad clients will leave your team frustrated and exhausted—and can take a toll on your resources.


Let's get to know who your negative buyer personas are


1. Talk with Your Team

Hold a table talk meeting with your sales and marketing departments. Have each department bring something to the table. Your sales will have insights into which factors influenced the prospect before and after the sale, whereas your marketing department can provide the inbound analytics such as ineffective lead-generation tactics; prospects who abandoned a shopping cart and where customers are located. Consulting your internal team will help outline your customers' pain points along their customer journey and give you a starting point as to who is and isn't your ideal customer.


2. Talk to Current Customers

The next step is to talk to your customers who have stopped working with you. You can survey customers with low average sales prices or speak to customers with low satisfaction reviews. A quick email to those who only bought from you once asking for feedback can generate valuable information.


3. Research

Social media insights can be a great way to see who exactly interacts with your social media posts and researching such data can often open new markets that you never thought of before. Find out who engages with your content and why. Oftentimes on your social media feed, you'll get a few likes and follows from the same type of businesses. Most see you as a potential customer and will likely send you a sales pitch in your messages. They will ultimately affect your Instagram, Twitter, Facebook Algorithm leaving you with more sellers rather than buyers. Removing them from your followers will help, but you may also want to reconsider the type of messages you are posting.


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Build Your Persona Profile

Like traditional personas, your negative persona should include both demographics and behaviour identifiers. This could include income, a description of daily life, challenges, purchasing behaviour, goals and values.



1. Focus on qualities and behaviour

Consider using more than just demographics or geographics to exclude people. Values and lifestyle patterns should also be taken into account.

Evaluate and qualify each potential client.

Do you actually solve their problem?

Do they want you to change your services to match their needs?

Can they afford your services?


2.Don't be too exclusive

Don't discount the possibility that someone who isn't an ideal customer right now but could be one in the future. Look at your current customers and identify similar characteristics and buying behaviour. When I say a negative persona helps you focus on your ideal customer, it doesn't mean you shouldn't spend any time engaging with your negative personas. In fact, engaging with your negative personas can be a great way to raise awareness and you never know who is in their network. You should continue retweeting their content and thanking them for commenting on your blog post, even if some of them will never buy but the key is to not spend too much of your time and budget trying to convert them into customers. By identifying who these people are, you can quickly segment them out from the rest of your buyer personas and achieve a lower cost-per-lead and cost-per-customer.


3. Don't be too broad

Don't exclude individuals who are still in the consideration and awareness phase of the sales funnel. Most of your customers may still be searching for a solution to their problems. Listen to why customers don't choose you. Maybe theirs a pain point in your customers' journey that you haven't noticed.



Identifying your best personas sets the foundation for creating your negative ones. Both are essential to weeding out the ones who will drain your resources as well as those that will become brand loyal. Negative personas are a positive step for your business. It means you’re aware of who you’re not trying to attract and allows you to concentrate your time, energy and resources on the right customer.



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