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How to Develop a Negative Buyer Persona

Updated on September 25, 2023
Posted on January 19, 2018 by Brent Wildman

How to Develop a Negative Buyer Persona

We hate to be a Negative Nancy, but not all clients are great. Some clients think they have the budget to invest in their website project and then don’t. Others miss every deadline we give them (we can’t build a website without copy, images and the go-ahead on design decisions). A few are even verbally combative and think it’s okay to behave that way because they are paying us.


We recommend developing buyer personas – a fictional representation of your ideal client. And we also recommend developing a negative buyer persona – a fictional representation of the clients that benefit your business the least.

The entire point of starting a business in the first place is to fill a need you identified and monetize it. If there are clients holding you back, siphoning off a lot of time and generating negative energy, it is time to develop a buyer persona of your least ideal client. Here are some tips to get started.



Observe and identify patterns

If you are a list-maker, grab a pen and paper. Write down every client that drove you crazy. Every client that yelled over the phone or sent an email that left you feeling really awful. Clients that said they wanted to go one direction and then gave you whiplash after the project started and they changed their mind. Every project that dragged on for months after the initial forecasted completion date.


Ask the other members of your team, too. Maybe you have a higher tolerance for these behaviors than others. An effective business strategy is to protect your resources.


You will see a pattern emerge after a thorough review of past clients. Maybe those clients all operate the same sized business. Or they all hold the same job title. Perhaps they’re all from the same industry. Or maybe they just all have the same personality and you need to look back and dig into the first time you hung up the phone and thought, “What just happened?”


Learn to let them go

Breaking up is hard to do. Very few business owners like to watch revenue slip out the window, but no amount of money is worth a rotten experience. Hold your negative buyer personas up against your favorite clients and you will soon realize which you would rather be spending energy on. One keeps you up at night and one gets you excited to go to work and do your best.


Spend time chasing your ideal buyer personas, delighting them and keeping their business in the long-term. If you need help developing ideal and negative buyer personas, we have a team in-house that specializes in creating them and then developing a strategy on how to deploy inbound marketing to educate, engage and delight them.


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