April 5, 2022
A Marketing Persona: How to get clients you love, not ones you loathe

blog post on marketing personas image hand writing in day planner

We’ve all been there: you look at your schedule and your heart sinks. Your next client is ‘that’ client. The one from your nightmares. The one who makes you want to give up dog training and take up cleaning public toilets with a toothbrush!

If you’re relatively new in business it might be that you just have to suck it up and take whichever clients fate throws at you. However, it doesn’t have to be that way forever — and there’s a surprising amount you can do to influence who fate sends your way.

Even if you’re in the enviable position of feeling able to pick and choose your clients, you still need a strategy to make sure the right clients come your way – so read on…

Marketing personas demystified

It’s all very well and good wanting to attract certain types of clients, but how do you do that?

What you need is a Marketing Persona. ‘Marketing persona’ is a flashy way of saying ‘client profile’ or ‘target audience’. None the wiser? Basically, it’s how marketers talk about the people they want to see, notice, and respond to their marketing material.

People pay attention to material that is both relevant and relatable. So, if you know what your perfect client will find relevant and relatable you’re ahead of the game when it comes to attracting them to your business.

Facts about your favorites

The easiest way to get started is by choosing 3 of your favorite clients (recent or historical, it doesn’t matter) and picking out key bits of information about them. List out:

  • Their dog’s name, breed and age.
  • The problem or goal that was initially presented to you. Be specific here! Don’t just say ‘puppy training’ or ‘leash manners’ – call out the actual problems or goals. For example, puppy biting. Toilet training. Crying at night. Pulling on leash. Barking and lunging on leash. Not coming when called.

Next list out details such as:

  • Children/no children. Do they have a family or are they ‘DINK’ (double income, no kids)?
  • Client age group
  • Education level
  • Occupation
  • Where they live
  • How they found you

Now sit down and list any commonalities you see. Perhaps they all have children – or don’t! Maybe they all have a similar education level, similar presenting issues or interests. Were the dogs all of the same type or developmental stage?

Dog training client examples

I no longer work with training clients, but here are my 3 all-time favorites to give you an idea of how it might look:

Client One

  • Dog’s name: Sally
  • Dog’s age: 14 weeks
  • Dog’s breed: lab x border collie
  • Presenting problem/goal: Sally’s owner wanted to train her using clicker training with a view of starting agility when she was old enough.
  • Family status: DINK
  • Client age group: mid 20’s
  • Education level: degree
  • Occupation: Personal Assistant at the local university (Psychology dept)
  • Where they live: my home town
  • How they found me: web search (looked for clicker trainers in the area)

Client Two

  • Dog’s name: Max
  • Dog’s age: 3 years
  • Dog’s breed: JRT
  • Presenting problem/goal: Max’s owner wanted to do more with her dog. He had good basic training and she wanted to try some dog sport/trick training. 
  • Family status: DINK
  • Client age group: late 50’s
  • Education level: PhD
  • Occupation: Psychiatrist 
  • Where they live: my home town
  • How they found me: web search (looked for dog trainers in the area)

Client Three

  • Dog’s name: Rufus
  • Dog’s age: 18 months
  • Dog’s breed: fox terrier x border collie
  • Presenting problem/goal: sloppy heelwork and inability to focus while in the obedience ring.
  • Family status: single
  • Client age group: early 60’s
  • Education level: degree
  • Occupation: university lecturer (chemistry)
  • Where they live: my home town
  • How they found me: personal referral

From these my marketing persona might look like this:

Childless dog owners with a tertiary education who are looking for a ‘higher than average’ level of education for their energetic, smart young dog. They probably work at the local university or college and have more than a passing interest in the natural sciences. 

Once you’ve created your profile, what next? Well, you can use it in two ways: to attract the right sort of clients AND to make sure you place your marketing in the places where they’re going to see it.

Targeting your marketing for your marketing persona

If you want to attract the sort of clients you like and work well with, you need to make sure your messaging is appealing to them – and not so much to those people you’d rather avoid.

I preferred owners who saw their dogs as family, not livestock or backyard ornaments. I also liked those who viewed dog training as ‘education’ and not ‘I say, you do – or else’. Therefore, the language I used was chosen to appeal to those beliefs.

I also made sure to emphasize in my copy all the reasons why a person might want to ‘further their dog’s education’.

The images I used showed a wide range of adults doing active, clever things with their dogs. I purposefully avoided images with children and families as I don’t like working with kids!

Can you see how I might have attracted certain types of clients and repelled others? By knowing the type of person you’re trying to reach (or not) you can tailor your marketing message much more precisely.

Getting your message to the right people

So, you’ve crafted your content/copy/flyers or adverts. How do you now get them in front of the right eyeballs?

Go back to your client profiles. Where would these types of people hang out or gather – either physically or virtually? If they have young children, maybe look at parenting groups, schools or activity centers. Maybe offer to do free child-dog safety demos or talks. Or post blogs about integrating dogs into young families in parenting groups online.

For my clients, the obvious place to increase my visibility was within the university and college. I could have offered free talks or training seminars, put flyers on the staff notice boards (with permission, of course!) or even just hung around campus showing off my well-trained dogs.

To increase online visibility, you might want to join Facebook groups where your target audience are likely to hang out. Be careful to always abide by the rules of posting in groups – you don’t want to get thrown out for spamming!

However, if you’re honestly helpful people will quickly work out what you do and where to find more information so they can contact you. No spamming required.

Can’t find suitable groups that will let you post? How about setting up your own? It’s more work, but it means you can really target your message and grow your perfect audience.

The power of profiling with a marketing persona

Although it might seem like a lot of work to really pick apart the details of your favorite clients, build a client marketing persona/profile, and then craft your marketing to fit, it’s worth it.

Think of all the time and effort and angst you could save by avoiding those nightmare clients and actively choosing to attract more of those you love.


  1. Melissa

    Testing Notifications – seeing how things work.

    • Melissa Breau

      Replying to a comment when logged in.


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