How to Create AI Marketing Personas with 8 Powerful Prompts

By Andy Crestodina

Marketing is based on empathy.
And empathy comes from research.
The best research comes from interviews.

But… stakeholder interviews take a lot of work. They’re hard to schedule and time intensive. It’s tough to connect with the right people. It takes skill to get them to open up. Often, you have just one chance.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had unlimited time to talk? If they were available at a moment’s notice? If you could ask super direct questions, even the questions that make most people squirm?

That’s what an AI marketing persona is for.

You can use AI to create an artificial version of a member of your target audience and ask them anything about sales and marketing, triggers and topics, hopes and fears. And it’s always there for you, day or night, to guide your content and messaging.

This little guide shows how to make your own AI-powered persona using Chat GPT. And to confirm that using AI to create personas isn’t a totally crazy idea, along the way we’ll check in with Ardath Albee, the leading persona expert. But first, let’s highlight the importance of AI marketing personas.

AI = Average Information

That statement is 100% true.

If you don’t start with a persona, the responses from AI won’t be specific to your audience. Responses will be generic. The insights won’t be as relevant and the content won’t connect. AI might as well stand for “average information”

The LLM read the internet. It was trained on the Common Crawl, which covers a huge percentage of the public web. When prompted, the AI provides the average of what it found. That’s why responses are often bland. Tastes like water.

But if you generate a persona first, and they make all of your prompts within that conversation, the responses will all be much better. They’ll be specific to your target audience.

How to create an AI marketing persona

A persona is a composite sketch of a target audience or audience segment describing your ideal customer. It guides your marketing strategy by accurately identifying the general traits, concerns and behavior patterns of your potential buyer. It’s a guide.

A good persona answers these types of questions:

  • What are their primary goals and objectives?
  • What problems do they have? How do they manifest? (drivers of the objectives)
  • What triggers them to take action and reach out for help?
  • What questions do they ask at what stage in the decision process? What do they need to know and when?
  • Where do they get their information? What and whom do they read, listen to and watch?
  • It’s ideal to do detailed interviews with actual humans in your target market. But AI may help augment your persona research by creating a fast alternative or just a second (artificial) opinion.

You can create one simply by asking Chat GPT to create a first draft.

For our examples here, we’ll pretend we’re a social media marketing agency focused on helping nonprofits with fundraising. Our buyer is in a marketing leadership role and has fundraising and event promotion goals.

We’ll start with a detailed prompt. The best prompts help the AI by giving a lot of information. Our prompt will include the following elements of a persona:

  • Job title (Marketing Director)
  • Business category and mission (healthcare non-profit serving underserved communities)
  • Company size and geography ($10M budget, midwest United States)
  • Business objectives (fundraising and event promotion)

We’ll also add to the prompt the specific output that we’re looking for in the response:

  • Hopes and dreams
  • Fears and concerns
  • Emotional triggers
  • Decision criteria for selecting a company in your category

Here it is with the draft AI marketing persona. We’re including the prompts in their original form. Some of the responses have been edited for brevity. You’ll see my prompts and ChatGPT’s output.

🧑🏻 Andy’s prompt #1:

Build a persona for a Marketing Director of a $10M non-profit in the midwest US with a mission to provide better access to healthcare resources in under-served communities. The goals of this person are to create more effective fundraising campaigns through digital marketing and also to promote their events.

List their hopes/dreams, fears/concerns, emotional triggers and decision criteria for hiring/contacting a social media marketing company.

🤖 ChatGPT’s output:

Name: Taylor Rodriguez

Background: Taylor Rodriguez is a compassionate and dedicated Marketing Director of a non-profit organization, Midwest Health Initiative, which holds a mission to enhance access to healthcare resources in under-served communities. Their passion for public health started in college, where they majored in Public Health and minored in Marketing. Taylor later obtained an MBA to gain a stronger business foundation to effectively manage marketing campaigns for non-profits. Taylor has been working in the non-profit sector for 15 years, holding different roles ranging from outreach coordinator to marketing manager. Their lifelong commitment to healthcare access stems from personal experiences growing up in a marginalized community.


  1. Fundraising: Taylor’s main goal is to optimize digital marketing efforts to drive more effective fundraising campaigns. They aim to increase donations by 20% over the next fiscal year and engage more monthly recurring donors.
  2. Awareness and Outreach: Another important goal is to spread awareness about the healthcare resource issues faced by underserved communities and the organization’s role in addressing them. Taylor also hopes to gain broader publicity for their events, driving a 30% increase in attendance within a year.
  3. Volunteer Engagement: As part of their community-focused efforts, Taylor aims to boost volunteer numbers by using effective social media marketing campaigns that target and inspire potential volunteers.

Pain Points:

  1. Budget Constraints: Working in a non-profit means being careful with how resources are allocated. Taylor is always under pressure to maximize output with limited resources, which often leads to creative but challenging problem-solving.
  2. Audience Segmentation: Taylor recognizes the power of digital marketing but struggles to effectively segment and target their audience for fundraising, awareness, and volunteer recruitment campaigns.
  3. Measuring Success: Non-profits often struggle to measure the impact of their marketing efforts quantitatively. Taylor is often challenged to translate their digital marketing efforts into concrete KPIs.

Decision criteria for selecting a social media marketing company:

  1. Experience in Non-Profit: The chosen company should have demonstrated experience working with non-profit organizations, particularly in the healthcare sector. They should understand the unique challenges and opportunities in this space.
  2. Cost-Effective Solutions: Given the budget constraints, the company must be able to offer cost-effective solutions, delivering maximum results for every dollar spent.
  3. Audience Understanding: The company should have a deep understanding of the target demographics, their online behavior, and the most effective ways to engage them.
  4. Measurement and Reporting: The marketing company must provide robust reporting and analytics tools to track campaign performance and tie it back to Taylor’s specific KPIs.
  5. Creative Collaboration: The company should be open to collaborating on creative approaches to marketing problems and flexible enough to adapt to the unique brand voice of Midwest Health Initiative.
  6. Cultural Fit: Lastly, Taylor is very particular about the company’s values. They must align with their organization’s mission and values to build a successful, long-term relationship.

That entire process took about two minutes using Chat GPT-4. It looks like a good start. But we must assume that it is inaccurate. Everything that comes out of AI must be verified. Look closely at what it generated. What is incorrect? Tell it to fix it. What is missing? Tell it to add it.

The quality of every subsequent response is based on the accuracy of this persona. So spend time improving it before proceeding.

We showed this to our friend Ardath Albee, a persona and audience research expert with 30+ years of experience in marketing strategy.

Ardath Albee, Marketing Interactions

“Do we really know this is accurate? If you incorporate this perspective into your content, what’s the likelihood that this is correct? Do these apply to your market? Your competitors’ market? You didn’t validate this. Check these with your customers before using this. I don’t trust this.

She is understandably skeptical. And she’s right. We don’t really know if this is accurate. So as we proceed, we aren’t going to set our expectations high. We’ll plan to validate this through interviews with our actual customers.

ProTip: Never expect to get a great result from the first prompt.

You wouldn’t expect human intelligence to do great work after one simple request. The AI is no different. Expect to keep working with the AI, training it and improving the response with subsequent prompts.

Ardath recommends another marketing tool, Crystal, which you can use to evaluate the personalities of actual customers based on their online presence, and then look for patterns. In her experience, people with a clearly defined customer persona tend to have similar personality types.

screenshot of the Crystal tool
As we proceed, we’ll continue to build up the target persona by adding details. We can do this by simply adding information that you have on hand, by using other tools or by continuing to prompt the AI.

What words does this person use?

Using the language (as in jargon) of the target audience creates alignment both for SEO and conversion. Marketers must always seek to use the words their audiences use.

I’ll show the prompt and response for that insight here:

🧑🏻 Andy’s prompt #2:

What words does Taylor use to describe his marketing challenges and solutions?

🤖 ChatGPT’s output:

Taylor, with their background in both public health and business, uses a unique mix of health sector-specific and general marketing terminology to articulate their challenges and solutions.


  • Resource Optimization: Taylor’s constant struggle with budget limitations drives his need for resource optimization.
  • Audience Engagement: One of the key issues Taylor faces is in engaging their diverse audience, especially considering the sensitive nature of healthcare topics.
  • Digital Footprint Expansion: Taylor views his aim of growing the organization’s presence online as a challenge of expanding their digital footprint.
  • Donor Conversion: Taylor talks about the difficulty in not just attracting but also converting online visitors into consistent donors.
  • Performance Tracking: Taylor often discusses the struggle to quantify the impact of their campaigns as a challenge in performance tracking and measuring success.


  • Strategic Partnerships: Taylor believes in creating alliances with like-minded organizations and influencers for cost-effective promotions and wider reach.
  • Targeted Messaging: They emphasize the need for highly targeted messaging to cater to the specific needs and interests of their varied audience segments.
  • Data-Driven Decisions: Taylor underscores the importance of making decisions based on data and insights rather than assumptions.
  • Storytelling: To boost donor conversion, Taylor often talks about harnessing the power of storytelling to create emotional connections with potential donors.
  • Impact Metrics: To address performance tracking, Taylor advocates for the use of specific impact metrics that align with their organization’s goals and mission.
  • Multi-Channel Approach: To improve the digital footprint, Taylor sees value in a multi-channel approach, strategically leveraging various social media platforms to reach a wider audience.

Those are some fancy words! Probably, I would have avoided that level of jargon, but if I can confirm that these are in fact, the words that my audience uses, I’ve struck gold. I’ll use them throughout our website, our campaigns and even our proposals.

What was the trigger that sent them looking for help?

There’s a true story in the life of every lead. If you know where that story begins, you have a better shot at writing the ending.

Ask your AI buyer persona to tell you what was happening that made it realize that it needed your services.

🧑🏻 Andy’s prompt #3:

What kinds of things might happen that make you realize that you need help from a marketing agency?

🤖 ChatGPT’s output:

Several signals would alert me to the fact that our non-profit needs assistance from a marketing agency:

  1. Overwhelmed Team: If the current team is struggling to keep up with their tasks or if their workload is hindering their creativity or performance, it may be time to seek external help.
  2. Limited Expertise: If there are areas of marketing that are beyond the expertise of the in-house team, such as SEO, paid social, or advanced analytics, it may be beneficial to bring in an agency that specializes in those areas.
  3. Lack of Results: If the current marketing efforts are not yielding the expected results in terms of fundraising, community engagement, or awareness, an agency might be able to bring fresh perspectives and strategies.
  4. Limited Reach: If the organization’s digital presence and reach are not expanding as desired, a marketing agency with expertise in digital marketing and audience targeting could be beneficial.
  5. Major Campaigns or Events: If the organization is planning a significant fundraising campaign or event, it may require additional support or specialized expertise to effectively promote it and engage its audience.
  6. Need for Strategic Direction: If the organization lacks a comprehensive marketing strategy or if the existing strategy is not aligned with its goals, an agency could help refine its approach.
  7. Need for Objective Insights: Sometimes, having an external, objective perspective can reveal blind spots or provide new ideas that wouldn’t have been recognized internally.

Because these are the initial drivers, then hitting these specifically will help win the business. All of the marketing materials (plus the pitch and proposal) should all tie back to the original ‘why.’

Again, let’s show this to Ardath for some expert insights from a human.

Ardath Albee, Marketing Interactions

“This is too high level. AI is great at making lists of stuff, but the problem is specificity. If you’ve actually done the work and have personas, then you can ask it to expand on them and you may get something of value. The question is what do you do with it?”

What information do they need to make a decision?

With another prompt or two, we can get ideas for what basic information we need to include in our marketing materials and sales conversations. Anything stories or examples that align with these should improve both our conversion rates and closing rates.

🧑🏻 Andy’s prompt #4:

What information about the possible marketing agency would you need before contacting that marketing agency about a potential project?

🤖 ChatGPT’s output:

Before contacting a marketing agency about a potential project, I would need to gather specific information to ensure the agency is a good fit for our needs. Here are the key points I would consider:

  • Agency’s Expertise: The area of expertise of the agency should align with the needs of the project.
  • Experience with Non-Profits: It would be beneficial if the agency has prior experience working in the non-profit sector.
  • Industry Knowledge: Understanding of the healthcare sector can be a significant advantage as the agency would have a better grasp of the context in which we operate.
  • Previous Work: Reviewing the agency’s portfolio can provide insights into their creative abilities, attention to detail, and whether their style aligns with our brand identity.
  • Client Testimonials or Case Studies: These help me understand the results the agency has been able to deliver for other clients. It’s particularly beneficial if these testimonials come from clients in similar sectors.
  • Values and Culture: It’s important that the agency’s values and culture align with ours for a harmonious and productive working relationship.

Although most of that information may seem general, it’s at least a checklist for topics and formats. It suggests that all messages should be reinforced with highly-relevant examples throughout the marketing and sales processes. And alignment on values, although not the most important thing, needs to be there.

What do they buy and how do they buy it?

The answers to these questions can help align your offers with their needs. What do they need and how do they buy it? Who is involved in the process? Repeated prompting about the buying process and the decision criteria can guide the sales strategy.

🧑🏻 Andy’s prompt #5:

Which marketing functions are you most likely to outsource?

🤖 ChatGPT’s output:

We may decide to outsource certain marketing functions that require specialized skills, are time-intensive, or are not needed on a continuous basis. Here are some functions that non-profits are most likely to outsource:

  • Website Development and Maintenance: Building and maintaining a professional website often requires technical skills. It’s also not a continuous task, so it can be more cost effective to outsource.
  • SEO Optimization: SEO is a specialized skill that requires staying up-to-date with constantly changing algorithms and techniques. It often makes sense to outsource this function to professionals.
  • Social Media Management: While day-to-day posting might be handled in-house, strategizing, planning, and creating content for social media can be outsourced to professionals who understand the nuances of different platforms and how best to engage audiences.
  • Public Relations: Hiring a PR agency can help the organization gain media coverage and manage communications with various stakeholders.
  • Graphic Design: Design work for specific campaigns or materials is often project-based, making it a common function to outsource.
  • Market Research and Analytics: Understanding the target audience and analyzing the success of marketing campaigns requires time and expertise.
  • Content Creation: Writing blogs, articles, press releases, and other content can be outsourced to professional writers who can craft compelling stories about the organization’s work and impact.

🧑🏻 Andy’s prompt #6:

Who are the two people on your team that have the strongest influence over the decision of which marketing agency to hire?

🤖 ChatGPT’s output:

In the context of making a strategic decision like hiring a marketing agency, the two individuals who would likely have the strongest influence on the decision-making process, apart from me as the Marketing Director, would probably be:

  • Marketing Manager: I work closely with the Marketing Manager to develop and execute the overall marketing strategy. Their intimate understanding of the marketing goals, current initiatives, and challenges would make their input highly influential in this decision.
  • Finance Director: As the individual overseeing the organization’s budget, the Finance Director’s perspective would be crucial. They can provide a clear understanding of what the organization can afford, ensuring the decision aligns with financial constraints and goals.

These individuals would likely have the strongest influence due to their strategic roles within the organization and their direct involvement with the financial and marketing aspects, respectively, of the decision to hire a marketing agency.

Now that you know the influencers of the decision, you can confirm that you’ve addressed (or at least acknowledged) their concerns. Or create content marketing assets specifically for them.

In this case, it could be a guide that explains how the ROI of social media fundraising campaigns is measured. The sales reps could send this to the finance director after a call or meeting.

Generating copy for your new AI buyer persona

Ardath is right. What do we do with all this stuff?

-Ardath Albee, Marketing Interactions

“A persona is simply a format that makes your customer insights useful.” 

You found some insights, you’ve taken the time to validate them by talking to actual humans in your actual audience, and then you edited the AI persona to improve the accuracy. Now what? How do we make this useful?

Without discussing the societal and labor market impacts of AI-generated content, I’ll briefly give a few use cases for applying the buyer persona.

🧑🏻 Andy’s prompt #7:

Using the words that Taylor would use to describe his challenges and solutions, write a webpage promoting the social media marketing services for healthcare-focused nonprofits working on planned giving campaigns. Highlight the specific information that Taylor needs to know about an agency before hiring one.

I will not show the response. If I did, we may get distracted by this specific example and miss the point, which is that AI can indeed produce a workable first draft if given detailed prompts.

In this case, the generated text was 100% aligned with the persona. It basically wrote a section for each of the decision criteria we named above. It felt prescriptive because that’s exactly what it was.

This is an issue with prompting a generative AI. It’s a Goldilocks problem.

  1. Prompts that are too general give responses that feel too general and broad.
    The AI is writing for a very broad audience, and the content tastes like water.
  2. Prompts that are too specific give responses that feel too narrow and specific.
    The AI is hitting every single note, and the content is very constrained.

Mark O’Brien, Newfangled

“We’ve noticed something strange and surprising during our content experimentations and R&D efforts that seem to be part of the ‘nature’ of the ChatGPT models: it needs space to breathe. The more detailed and voluminous the instruction, the worse the output. The better and more succinct the prompt, the more creative, interesting, and natural the resulting language was.”

Also, the draft it generated lacked most of our 13 best practices for service pages, including these big ones:

  • Quick visual credibility
  • Testimonials
  • Supportive data
  • Keyword focus
  • The faces of our team
  • Supportive visuals
  • A call to action

I could have kept prompting it, training it to write a better first draft of a prospect-focused service page.

But the process of constructing that page will probably always be a mostly manual process. I don’t expect an AI to do an amazing job of gathering the right testimonials, curating the most relevant examples and results, creating branded visuals, etc.

It’s easy to imagine how this could be used to create ideas for content marketing or to validate advertising campaigns. We’ve focused on a B2B buyer persona, but AI could also help you understand B2C potential customers.

Performing gap analysis on your existing copy using your new AI persona

If the idea of AI generated webcopy leaves a bad taste in your mouth, here’s an idea that should cleanse your palette. Use generative AI to do gap analysis on an existing page, checking the copywriting against the AI marketing persona we worked so hard on these last 10 minutes.

The prompt is simple. Just ask which of the personas top concerns were not addressed in a given piece of web copy. You can simply copy and paste that copy into the prompt.

For this example, I found a random service page from a social media marketing company that works with non-profits.

🧑🏻 Andy’s prompt #8:

Which of Taylor’s top concerns are not addressed on this webpage? [copy and paste in a webpage]

🤖 ChatGPT’s output:

While the webpage addresses a number of general concerns related to non-profit marketing, there are some specific areas related to Taylor’s top concerns that are not explicitly addressed:

  1. Healthcare Focus: Taylor’s non-profit is specifically in the healthcare sector. While this agency states they work with non-profits, they do not make any specific reference expertise in healthcare.
  2. Planned Giving Campaigns: One of Taylor’s key initiatives is planned giving campaigns. The webpage does not mention any experience or specialized services related to planned giving campaigns.
  3. Values Alignment: The page does not provide information about the agency’s values and whether they align with Taylor’s organization’s mission to provide better access to healthcare resources in underserved communities.
  4. Data-Driven Insights: The page mentions tracking and measuring donor engagement but does not elaborate on the kind of data-driven insights they provide to their clients. This lack of clarity might leave Taylor unsure of their approach to analytics and measurement of campaign success.
  5. Cost-Effective Solutions: As a non-profit with a tight budget, Taylor is keen on cost-effective solutions. Although the webpage refers to working with organizations large and small, it doesn’t speak directly to their approach to budgeting and ensuring their clients get the most out of their investment.
  6. Specific Pain Points: Although this agency has a broad range of services, they do not explicitly address Taylor’s specific pain points such as increasing donor dollars, building a strong digital presence that aligns with their mission, and creating compelling narratives to inspire donors.

In essence, Taylor would likely appreciate more specificity related to his healthcare focus, his planned giving campaigns, cost-effectiveness, and value alignment from an agency.

You can see that it takes the task very literally and basically checks the page against the decision criteria we set in the earlier prompts and responses.

In this example, the page had a lot of misalignment because it wasn’t written for our persona. It was a random page. But you can see how AI is very useful at identifying gaps. A copywriter could use it as a quick double-check to confirm that nothing big was missed.

Even a single question left unanswered, or a single objection left unaddressed, can hurt conversion rates, as measured in Google Analytics.

Save your new AI persona

Last step. Once you’ve got your new synthetic prospect in shape, make sure that you hold onto it. Name the chat so you can find it again quickly later.

Screenshot of a computer screen showing a document with marked text highlighting strategic steps for enhancing non-profit social media engagement.

All of your subsequent prompting about this target audience will take place in this chat. You can talk to it on a moment’s notice, day or night, for quick ideas or a long conversation about drivers, goals and motivations.

  • Ask it about price expectations and what would convince it to pay more
  • Ask it about results expectations and how soon it expects them
  • Ask it who it would ask for referrals
  • Ask it what it doesn’t like about buying these services
  • Ask it what questions it’s likely to ask on a sales call

Try everything.
Never trust it completely.
Once you find insights, focus on execution.

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