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Organizational Framework Segmentation Worksheets

There are many types of buyer personas and ideal customer profiles. The one thing good ones all have in common is that they're built around a good framework.

Choosing an organizational framework for buyer personas & ideal customer profiles (ICPs) can be a challenge, however, because there are lots of ways to group customers. In our experience, a #1 thing to keep in mind is that a good framework should always reflect the specifics of your business — what you sell, how you sell it, and why your customers buy it.

In most cases, this means using one of the following organizational frameworks:

  • Use Cases

  • Pain Points

  • Journey Maps

  • Buying Triggers

  • Value Proposition

  • Lifestyles/Life Stages

  • Jobs-To-Be-Done

Which one works best?

Use cases, pain points, and buying triggers are popular for business-to-business (B2B) personas; use cases, journey maps, and lifestyles/life stages are popular for business-to-consumer (B2C) and direct-to-consumer (DTC) personas.

While you can usually pick your organizational framework before you do your customer research, there’s a chance you’ll have to revise it or replace it later, especially if your findings reveal something surprising or unexpected.

Here's a brief explanation of each one and a worksheet:

Use Cases

A use case is a brief description that explains why, how and/or when a person uses a particular product or service. Use cases are popular framing devices for buyer personas because they work in almost every situation. The goal with uses cases is to pick at least two examples, and usually between three and five examples that are distinct and identifiable — if you can’t identify any of the key characteristics that different types of users have in common, like demographics, life stages, occupations, lifestyle choices, attitudes, affiliations, behaviors, etc., then you need to either revise your use cases or select a different framing device.

Pain Points

Pain points are persistent or recurring problems that inconvenience or annoy prospective customers. The solution is always your product or service. The key to using pain points with buyer personas is being able to associate each one with a distinct set of demographic and/or psychographic characteristics. In the broadest sense, there are four types of pain points, which range from the experiential to the existential:

  • Physical

  • Mental

  • Emotional

  • Spiritual

If your pain points are defined too broadly, you may end up with groups of customers who are actually all the same; if they’re defined too narrowly, you may end up with customers who don’t fit into any group.

One trick is to combine pain points with a secondary framework, like use cases or life stages.

Journey Maps

A journey map is a graphic interpretation of the process a prospect goes through in order to become a buyer. Journey maps can be quite specific, but generally follow the same overall basic steps:

  1. Realize need

  2. Research and evaluate options (more important for B2B; less important for B2C)

  3. Make choice

  4. Use product/service

  5. Re-use product/service or replace it

When maps are used as a framing device for buyer personas, it’s important to be able to identify the key characteristics those at each specific waypoint are most likely to have in common, such as demographics, life events & stages, occupations, attitudes, affiliations, lifestyle choices, etc.

If you can’t identify any of these specifics, you should either choose another framing device or combine journey maps with a secondary framing device.

Buying Triggers

A buying trigger is an event that signals intent or heightened interest by a customer. Because triggers can be quite generic (especially when they’re digital), they can be somewhat difficult to use with personas.

The key is to either choose triggers that relate to specific, identifiable characteristics or use triggers in conjunction with a secondary framework that relates to specific, identifiable characteristics. If you can’t identify the underlying characteristics, you can’t sort your customers into distinct groups.

Value Proposition

Using your value proposition or value prop as a framing device for buyer personas is one of the more time-consuming ways to create buyer personas. In most cases, it means connecting the inherent value of your product or service to fundamental human needs and then relating those back to identifiable subsets of your customers.

Bain & Company’s Elements of Value Pyramid is a good way to better understand your value prop.

Jobs To Be Done

Jobs To Be Done is a way of thinking about products and services in terms of what buyer are trying to achieve i.e. what "job" do they want to "hire" your product to do? It grew out of a Harvard Business School consulting assignment where the sales and marketing teams struggled to attract and engage buyers because demographic and psychographic characteristics "did not explain who was most likely to buy."

People who don't like or don't trust traditional personas often like this framework because it defines buyers in a different way.

It doesn't eliminate the need to segment your buyers, however, or dig deep enough to understand who they are and what makes them tick so you can personalize your pitches, presentations, messaging, design, etc.

For this reason, people often start with Jobs To Be Done, but then try to identify any underlying patterns, characteristics and meaningful commonalities they can use to break buyers into more manageable groups or cohorts, or pair Jobs To Be Done with another framework like life stages, pain points, buying triggers, use cases, etc.

Lifestyles / Life Stages

Lifestyles and life stages are combinations of demographic attributes that can be used to identify a unique subset of the population, such as:

  • Gender

  • Age

  • Generation

  • Developmental Stage (infancy, early childhood, middle childhood, adolescence, early adulthood, middle adulthood, or mature)

  • Marital Status

  • Family Size

  • Household Income

  • Location

  • Education

  • Occupation

  • And more…

Using them as a framing device for buyer personas is sometimes dismissed as being “too generic,” but can be quite useful.

The key is to make sure there’s a clear connection between your product or service and whatever specific demographic criteria you’re using to define your lifestyle or life stage.

Using Your Organizational Framework To Create Buyer Personas and ICPs

Once you’ve worked out the details of your framework, the process of using it to build your buyer personas is straightforward with the following steps:

  1. Consolidate your customer research so you get a good, overall picture of your customer base.

  2. Use your framework to sort and filter your customer into individual groups

  3. Identify the qualities and characteristics members of each group have in common

  4. Condense and consolidate these commonalities and package them up into individual buyer personas

You can also download the complete set as a PDF.

Frameworks Worksheets
Download PDF • 740KB

For more on buyer personas and frameworks:

For more on organizational frameworks, check out this blog post: How To Choose A Framework For Your Buyer Personas & Ideal Customer Profiles


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