Discover Your Equity Plan “Buyer Personas”

By Sandra Barba. In marketing, understanding your buyer is key – and the same can be said for stock plan management. Understanding your participants (your “buyers”) will help you to engage them and communicate in a more effective way.  Developing buyer personas for your participant pool can help you segment your audience and target your messaging accordingly.  As we say in marketing – the more targeted the message, the better it works.

First, you might ask yourself. What is a buyer persona?

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of a particular customer segment, created based on market research and real data about existing customers. Basically, it’s who you are marketing to. When creating buyer personas for your equity plan, consider including employee demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals.  The more detailed you are, the better!

Buyer personas lead to a greater understanding of your participants and can provide tremendous structure and insight for equity plan management. They can help you determine how to structure your plan, understand who to offer awards to, and when and how to best communicate. As a result, you will be able to better attract and keep the best talent for your company.

When developing your equity plan buyer personas ask yourself who your audience is. Dive into employee seniority, department, responsibilities, job challenges and key drivers. Ask yourself:

  • What are their career goals ?
  • What are their financial goals?
  • What do they value?
  • What are their decision drivers?

The right questions will help you hit the right target on your plan messaging, frame the channel of distribution, and help you execute the right timing. The right questions will also help in equity plan design by providing you with a better understanding of what current/prospective employees want or need from a plan and what would possibly entice an employee to join or stay at the company.

For example, employee X is female in her mid-20’s and just started with the company. Employee Y is in her mid- 40’s, has been with the company for 10 years, and is on the management team. Now, we know from our buyer personas that these two employees should be in different segments of our communication.  Employee X will need more information about the benefits of an equity plan and the future financial benefits that she might gain from them. Employee Y, on the other hand, would rather know plan specifics and how best to capitalize on them.

With any data you collect, it is always helpful to have a good format to maintain it. Here is an example of a chart format we created to store persona information on a Human Resources Leader in charge of equity compensation:


Whenever you review plan communications, pull out your personas and make your review with that person in mind. You’ll be surprised at how that helps you clarify and customize your message.


sandra-barbaSandra Barba is the Marketing Events Specialist at Certent, Inc. and has been with the company for three years. Sandra is responsible for the planning and coordination of all corporate events, webinars, and trade shows and is currently working towards her CEP certification. Sandra prides herself in organizing and marketing outstanding events that provide attendees with educational and networking opportunities.