When deciding how to market to your key demographic, how do you know which actions will resonate with them? If only there was a tool that would tell you who your customers are, what's important to them and what they need from you. Oh wait, there is.
Customer personas are fictional representations of your customers that help you to focus your marketing efforts. Based on real data that you've collected, personas help your company to understand a customer's goals, pains, and jobs. And they help you better identify the actions that will mean the most to those customers.
Having a persona is a powerful marketing tool - and creating a persona is as simple as 5 steps.
Step 1: Gather Data
Start by doing your homework. Learn about the people using your product or services. Use Google Analytics, interviews or surveys to gather information or use what you already know about your customers. Anything you can think of, no matter how mundane it may seem, write it down.
You'll want to gather data such as:
- Pain points
If you don't have access to Google Analytics, or if you don't know a lot about your customers yet, make an educated guess. Personas evolve over time and you’ll alter them as you learn more.
Some Questions to Ask
If you're relying on customer interviews or hoping to gather some insight by engaging in conversation, here are some helpful questions to guide you in the right direction.
What does a day in their life look like?
Where do they go to find information or answers to questions they have?
What are their most common objections to your product service?
Step 2: Organize the Data
Once you have the data, it's time to dig in and get organized. If you've had more than one person collecting data, this will be where you combine all that you've learned into one, cohesive unit. A good way to do this is a simple transfer of everything you've gathered onto post-it notes, laid out so all your information is clearly visible and accessible. The notes can then be organized into categories based on what the information suggests.
While you'll likely have some data that is concrete and some that has either been assumed or inferred, this is where a brainstorm session will help point out the differences between those groups of data. It will also give you the chance to begin to make assumptions based on the data you've gathered. Add those to more post-its. There is a lot you can assume about a person based on the facts you can get from Google Analytics. Some will be true, some won't, but this isn't where you worry about that. Brainstorming among your team will help reveal ideas and assumptions that are important, and that are likely a part of your ideal persona.
The goal in this step is to compile and organize ALL your data. You'll take a closer look at what you need and don't need in the next step.
Step 3: Make Cuts
Here, you'll have to decide what information is important to your business. What pieces of information do you all agree are true? You'll want to have discussions about the notes you've made on your post-its, digging into each bit of information and agreeing on it's relevancy. Do you care if Joe loves watching the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills? Or are you more concerned with the fact that he is a startup founder that struggles to focus his marketing efforts? If you're a marketing firm, you might not care about the first, but you should care about the second.
Keep the good stuff and discard the irrelevant (or the stuff you just don't think is true). But, keep in mind that some information may not seem relevant at first, but could be important in the long run. If Joe watches more TV than movies, movie references made on social media or in blogs may be lost on him. So, even if you don't include Joe's Real Housewives obsession in your persona, find somewhere to make a note of it (applications like Evernote and Google Docs are a great way to keep notes among a team) and hold on to it for future reference.
Step 4: Create the Persona
Now, it's time to create your persona. Turn your information into an actual person using a template to compile the information into categories (the above-mentioned demographics, pain points, goals, etc).
As you plug in the information you’ve gathered, an image of your target persona will begin to emerge. Because personas are not just data, and to get the most use out of your persona, you should end up with a fictional representation of the people you will most likely be doing business with. A representation that will bring the data you have discovered to life. Because personas are more than data, just like people are more than data. Personas will help you to see that.
Step 5: Take it Further-Create a Story
Now that you have a concrete representation in front of you, breathe a little life into it. What does a day in the life of Joe look like? What issues does he deal with while at work? How does he relax when he gets home? What types of events does he devote his free -time to? When you answer these questions, and others like them, a complete picture of your persona begins to form. An actual person isn't just a list of adjectives, your persona shouldn't be either. They become more and more real with each detail you add.
The point? Once this is done? Essentially, your fictional persona should inform your marketing efforts. If done well, those efforts should demonstrate the value your business can add to that persona, who should become a customer, which, in turn, adds value to your business.
Interested in contacting the writers of this blog post?
Allison is a freelance, content wizard. She writes content that helps businesses tell their stories, educate their customers, and promote their brands. Jesse is a startup junkie and tech enthusiast. His most recent endeavor is launching SuperWebPros, which builds Super Websites with Heroic Service for small businesses. Over the past year, we have enjoyed brainstorming with these two content and business gurus and are confident you will enjoy the insight they have for you.
Allison Spooner: To follow her writing journey and see a list of her professional content services, visit her website or find her on social!
Jesse Flores: To keep up with Jesse and see the work he is doing with SuperWebPros, visit his website!
If you have any questions about creating a customer persona for your business, we're here to help!