Here at Forty8Creates, we are always trying to share our best hints and tips to give your small business a boost. One of the best tools we can stress is the importance of creating a set of customer personas (also called avatars, marketing personas, business personas or client personas) – it’s definitely popular with digital marketing strategists. Customer personas are a super useful way of making sure that you are getting the best out of your business’s marketing strategy, and can help direct your focus for the future. Let’s break down this fancy marketing term in more detail.
What is a Customer Persona?
You might have heard of this term before and wondered what on earth the fuss was about. The truth is, it’s quite simple: no need for fancy marketing jargon! Customer personas are a kind of composite sketch of someone who would be your audience. It’s an actual individual, with a name, job, interests, etc. It’s putting a definable face to the person who your business serves.
Why Will This Be Useful?
It boils down to understanding who your customer is, and what their needs are. This helps in so many ways – whether you’re putting together a wider marketing strategy and wondering who to target, or if planning an in-depth content strategy, or if you’re just trying to relate better to your customers or clients in general.
Customer personas can help focus your marketing energy.
What Should I Include?
Client personas should include as much about the individual as possible – so, include key information about their job, company, age, gender, location and so on is relevant. But it’s more than just demographic information. This is because a simple demographic survey will be trying only to group your audience into chunks of data – the most prevalent factors they have in common.
This is what is known as ‘psychographics’.
However, a customer persona humanises this and takes into account the vast spectrum of differentiators.
It’s about getting down to the nitty-gritty of what makes your client an individual. That means you’re focusing on what sets them apart – what special factors and unique selling points you can tap into to ensure your business uniquely serves them accurately.
A great way to start is by aiming for three to five personas, as this should help cover your audience broadly speaking, whilst also being specific enough to be useful.
It’s a balance between the broadly applicable information and the specific details that set them apart.
How Do I Create One?
This can be tricky to create personas if you don’t already have an established business. In that case, your best bet is to analyse the competition. This will require a bit more extrapolation on your part – you’ll have to review social media sources, blogs, and whatever other information you can find to put yourself in the shoes of the potential buyer. If you already do have a business with an audience, however, you’re in luck. Here are some simple steps to break it down:
1. Figure out what you what you want to ask.
The best thing to do to figure out what client personas want is to have some closed questions: i.e. that require just a tick in the box, a yes or no answer.
And some open-ended questions: i.e. that allow them to elaborate in more detail.
This was you are gathering both qualitative and quantitative data – they can provide some key baseline information, but you’re also leaving open the possibility of interesting or unique unknown facts coming to the surface.
Some key questions to include might be:
- What are their basic demographics – age, marital status, location, gender, level of education, job title, languages they speak?
- What are their interests outside work?
- Who do they report to/who reports to them? This is especially important for a B2B company, particularly when determining who it is you are targeting who can make business decisions.
- What does a typical work day look like for them?
- What are their key problems and challenges in their job/business?
- Preferable media consumption?
- Where do they normally like to shop for the service/product you offer?
- What is their motivation for buying your product/service?
- What are their concerns about buying your product/service?
Basically, the more you can find out about them, the better! It’s about having a kind of character sketch at the end of the day. Like a composite of key characteristics, so that you are able to identify an actual type of human person as your customer – not just “someone who likes…” or “anyone who uses…”
2. Think about how you want to ask.
That means thinking about your methodology. You’ve got a few options to consider:
- One-on-one interviews: Nothing better than sitting down and having a chat with your customers or clients to get their feedback on what they look for, what works and what doesn’t. This can be the most time consuming but does give you a physical human link to the kinds of clients you want to attract in future.
- Online or hard copy survey: More easily distributed, these options mean you can get a lot of feedback quickly. Use tools like SurveyMonkey to get started.
- Talking through with your sales team or analysing previous feedback data: if you have historic data on hand, use it! If you have a team (or even an individual) who has been paying attention to the data to date, that too is a great starting point.
- Looking at your social media/website analytics: if you can see who has been accessing your content and when you can get a lot of great ideas about their needs. However, if you’re struggling to start with an online presence, it might be better to start elsewhere.
3. Collate the data.
See if there are patterns in the kinds of results you get. Are your users all concerned about certain topics? If so, you have the chance to answer that need.
4. Don’t skip the detail.
Here’s where the question types really come into play. Take into account the unusual extras that might come out of open-ended questions.
5. Draw some conclusions.
Once you have all this information gathered, it’s time to use it! With a better definition of who your client is, you can ensure you’re using your marketing efforts in the best way – for instance, if a target persona doesn’t use Twitter, there’s no point blowing time and money on Twitter advertising. Take note of other industries or points of overlap that you can use – for instance, if you had a company selling yoga products and noticed your users also tend to like cycling, there’s an opportunity to capitalise on where your audience overlap. It’s all about finding out what you can and putting that knowledge to use.
6. Don’t forget to revisit this later!
Ultimately, the personas will change. This is logical as you learn more about your customers and what motivates them – what you know about them will shift from what you think might be true (i.e. a hunch or instinct!) to something more concrete.
Developing three to five of these personas will help you put a face and a name to your audience and tailor your communications accordingly.
We hope this is enough to get you started – more on how to keep using this information coming soon!
Categorised in: Digital Marketing