When creating your developer personas, whether user or buyer personas, the focus is typically on identifying and targeting the ideal customer – negative personas are the opposite.

By understanding these negative personas, you can avoid wasting time, money, and effort on marketing tactics that simply won’t work and, instead, focus on reaching the right audience with the right message.

So, they’re essential for creating effective strategies that deliver results and help you meet your KPIs. Here’s why you should create a negative persona – and how:

What is a negative persona?

A negative persona represents the type of customer or user you don’t want to target with your developer marketing efforts.

They embody the pain points, behaviors, needs, values, etc., of people who differ too much from your ideal segment of the market and who you don’t want to be attracting in the first place.

When it comes to your developer personas, a negative persona represents the type of developer you want to steer clear of – this can be anything from developers who use a different tech stack, can’t afford your products, or are located in regions you don’t operate in, for example.

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Why you should create a negative persona

There are many benefits to creating a negative persona, so let’s look at some of them:

1. Filter out the people who aren’t a good fit for your product

By identifying negative personas, you can optimize your developer marketing efforts to focus on the right types of developers who are more likely to be interested in and benefit from their products or services.

This can help every team and/or department in your company to get on the same page and fully understand who the ideal customer is – which can lead to a smoother user acquisition process and a lower churn rate.

2. Save time, money, and effort

You should create negative personas because they help you to save resources, instead of using them on the wrong people. If you try to market to everyone, you end up marketing to no one; so, not only should you have a clear picture of who your developer persona is, but also who they aren’t.

This way, you avoid losing out on the cost of customer acquisition, spend all your time talking to developers who are actually interested in buying your product, boost your chances of returning customers, and avoid interacting with devs outside of your geographic location, for example.

3. Improve the effectiveness of your messaging

Another reason to identify negative personas is that it can improve the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns (and messaging), as you’re targeting the right audience at all times.

You can better understand the developer pain points, challenges, and motivations of customers who won’t benefit from your product – and, while this information may seem ‘useless’, it can actually help you craft messaging that speaks directly to the concerns of your target market.

They also make it easier for you to refine your messaging and positioning, which will increase the relevance of your marketing efforts and lead to higher engagement and conversion rates.

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4. Improved developer experience

Providing a good customer experience is crucial, and negative personas help you achieve that. This is because you’re focusing on the right audience and provide a tailored experience that matches the needs and preferences of your ideal customers.

This can lead to higher satisfaction, repeat business, and positive word-of-mouth.

How to create a negative persona

So, how do you identify these negative personas? It’s all about spotting the characteristics, pain points, and behaviors of individuals that aren’t a good fit for you, which can include things such as the lack of need for the product, unlikelihood of conversion, or negative impact on your bottom line.

There are several ways you can go about this:

  • Speak to other teams: sales and customer service teams will have insights about your ideal personas and about why certain people will never become customers.
  • Identify common traits: look at patterns in your customer data and identify the ones that don’t match your product.
  • Interview customers who canceled a subscription: if you have a SaaS product, make sure you’re talking to churned individuals to determine the reasons behind their cancellation and why the product was unsuitable for them.


To summarize, it’s clear you should create a negative persona when segmenting your audience, as it can offer you several benefits, such as saving you time and helping you to craft highly targeted messaging.

Once you do this, however, make sure you’re also using your negative personas to nurture your ideal developer audience. Add to your personas bank over time and tweak as needed, to ensure all your information is up-to-date.

Get our Developer Relations Playbook to learn more about developer personas, developer experience, and more!