Customer personas are nothing new. It’s been a fairly “buzzworthy” term for the last few years in most marketing circles. There is tremendous benefit in creating these fictional characters to get a better understanding of their challenges and how you can help solve them. From creating content online to speaking with customers on the phone or in person, personas allow you to leverage this behavioral insight to generate more leads and close more sales.
Most marketers go back to the basics when doing this. They pull out their consumer profiles or segmentation data or refer to the basic target demographic information they have on hand. This type of information and data is great and necessary but it doesn’t typically get at the core of your user’s problem. If you want to create relevant content, you need to start by focusing on persona development or what some refer to as buyer personas.
User Personas vs. Target Markets
Personas are usually different than your typical target market profiles. The differences can subtle, but personas:
- Are fictional characters based on your consumer information
- Tend to represent a broader group
- Focus on more than just demographic information
- Define your consumer’s needs and behaviors
- Aim to uncover true pain points
- Identify how your products or services can meet their needs
When creating a buyer persona, you need to be able to answer the following questions:
- Standard demographic information: Age? Income? Marital status?
- What is their role or title?
- What is the reporting relationship? Who do they report to, and who reports to them? Are they the true decision maker, or do they need to get buy-in from their boss?
- What motivates them?
- What are their pain points?
- What are their personal and professional goals?
- What are their biggest challenges?
- What are their media and social behaviors and consumption?
- How do your products and services fulfill those needs?
- What are their barriers to buying your product or service?
There are a number of free marketing resources you can use to gather this information. Social media insights, primary and secondary research studies, keyword research and current customer data are a great place to start. We also really like these persona templates from Hubspot.
Once you have answers to all the questions listed above, you can develop your user personas. Take the data you’ve collected and write about a character that represents them. Fill in the info about their title and decision-making role, and add some interesting details to make them relatable. What types of blogs do they read? Where do they spend most of their time on social media? Do they have a dog? How much time do they spend with their kids? This is where you can have some fun. The goal is to make your personas something that your company will actually use when making business decisions vs. throwing them in a file cabinet, which happens a lot!
The big challenge we see with a lot of marketers today is that their consumers are becoming more complex, thanks to the Internet and technology. They expect relevant experiences, and they want to be in control of those experiences. If you want to meet their expectations, you need to be able to deliver the right offer, in the right channels, at the right time. And persona development is a great place to start!