When I mention the term "persona" to my clients or potential clients, many look back at me with a blank stare or know the word but aren't sure what exactly the term means. So, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to explore the topic of customer personas. We'll discuss:
What is a persona?
Why personas are vital to your business;
How to create a persona;
Should you have more than one persona?
Plus, we have some great examples and personal recommendations sprinkled throughout the article, so let's get started!
What is a Persona?
One of my favourite steps in crafting a marketing plan or social media strategy is personas construction. It's a process that includes collaborating with our client's data and imagination, but before we look further into the process, let's uncover what a persona is.
There are several definitions out there on the enormous worldwide web. After countless Goggle searches and a few Reddit rabbit holes, I found the following interpretation from Smart Insight, which fits with my marketing philosophies:
"A persona is a fictional character that communicates the primary characteristics of a group of users, identified and selected as a key target through the use of segmentation data, across the company in a usable and effective manner.
This ultimately enables the company to design the best user experience for its customers at all touchpoints, which is a key success factor in today's business environment."
To simplify even more, persona's depict your ideal customer through data, creativity, and imagination.
Why are Persona's Vital to My Business?
As a small business owner myself, I sometimes get lost in the day-to-day and lose focus on the importance of planning. Still, I genuinely believe personas are one step of the strategy stage business owners shouldn't overlook. Yes, planning is time-consuming, but it's necessary to have a clear vision of what your business and your customers look like.
I like to think of personas as a tool in my marketing toolbox. Not only do they help pinpoint your ideal customer(s), you can use them to:
Design targeted social media audiences (used for ads);
Drives sales and increased profit (hello conversions!);
Identifies customer challenges;
Just in case I haven't convinced you on the importance of persona's, below are some captivating stats that may change your mind. According to Medium, persona's have also been known to:
Increase website traffic by 210% (e-commerce businesses take note);
Increase open email rates 2-5 times;
Increase organic search traffic by 55%
Is your mind blown yet?!
How do I Create a Persona?
Now that you have a better picture of what personas are all about let's go over how to create one of these babies!
Before we get into the steps, I want to assure you; you've got this! I know from personal experience how easy it is to get overwhelmed with these sorts of projects, so I'm going to keep things very simple. Plus, as you grow as a business owner, you'll become more comfortable revisiting and revising these types of living documents!
Do Your Research
The first step in your persona path is research. This is the foundation of your customer details. You can utilize several pre-existing tools, such as social media analytics (ex. Facebook & Instagram Insight), or you can customize your research using online surveys or in-person interviews. When conducting your research, its recommended you consider collecting essential information such as:
Behaviours (this may include what social media channels they use, spending patterns, etc.)
Interests & Hobbies
Note: If your business is B2B (business to business), you will also want to discover who makes purchasing decisions for the organization.
Identifying Customers Goals (and Challenges)
What problem is your customer trying to solve? Are they facing any roadblocks?
By using tools, such as social listening or surveys, you can identify challenges your customers may be facing or goals they want to achieve. If you are a larger business, you can tap into your customer service department to get a clear understanding of what your customers are saying about your brand.
Once you've identified your customers' opportunities and goals, you will better understand how your business can assist these buyers, which is such an exhilarating feeling!
Note: By running through this exercise, you may realize you have more than one type of buyer. If this is what your research has uncovered, I'd recommend creating a persona for each buyer.
This is the fun part, giving your persona personality! Use the data and characteristics from your research to bring your customer persona to life by creating a profile. Below is an example of some of the information you will want to include:
Name: Sally Saverton;
Marital Status: Married for 15 years, no children
Income: Between $35,000 and $50,000 annually
Employment: Life Coach/Self-employed;
Enjoys vacationing in the South of France each year;
And so on. You get this idea. You can even take the profile a step further and add a photo of what you think the person looks like. The more detailed you are, the more precise you'll be targeting your ideal client.
And there you have it—a simple guide to building your perfect buyer persona. The last piece of advice I can offer is to get creative and have fun with the process. You'll be surprised by what you discover!