4 Steps to Understanding Your Customers with Personas

After you have defined your target market and have a deep understanding of their core needs and values, your next step towards marketing success is developing marketing personas. You might be asking yourself, “What the heck is are personas and why do I need to create them?” Basically, a marketing persona is the aggregate of target audience information that takes the form of fictional characters.

These characters exist to represent the different types of people who would be interested in your product, service, or website. Your character models need to be based off of your target market research and can even be influenced by website analytics. The whole point of creating these personas is to increase the depth of understanding you have about your market. Armed with a deep understanding, you can make better marketing decisions and improve your sales strategy.

However, don’t think that a persona is a collection of random facts about different types of customers. A persona is heavily influenced by your definition and discovery of your target market or target audience. Having this level of understanding is crucial to meeting the demands, desires, and expectations of your customers. It will also help you understand how customers perceive and interpret your business as well as marketing materials.

Step 1: Gathering Information about Your Audience

Undoubtedly, the most important step of creating a persona is doing your research. Every other step is built upon the foundation of knowing who sees value in your business. If you haven’t already, you need to start by gathering accurate, detailed information about your target market. You can then augment your understanding of your audience with unbelievably detailed demographic information from web tools like Google Analytics.

If you lack the knowledge and experience to use tools or don’t already have them installed on your website, you should take a little time to consult with a website and SEO expert. This knowledge is too valuable to pass up, and without it you may fail to be aware of entire segments of your target market. Furthermore, you need to understand how different segments of your market think. This is paramount to building accurate personas. What drives you clients? What motivates your customers? How you provide solutions for the unfulfilled needs and desires in your industry? You need to remember to see customers as people, not as figures on a balance sheet or an analytics report.

Step 2: Create a Fictional Person

Next, you need to create the foundation of your persona. Firstly, you need to give the persona a name and even a picture to make your persona seem human. You will also need to determine other basic demographical information such as:

  • Age
  • Income
  • Gender
  • Education Level
  • Ethnicity
  • Marital and Parental Status
  • Location
  • Other Demographical Information

This information will serve as the framework that the following steps are built upon. Remember, these considerations for your persona need to be based on research regarding your target market.

Step 3: Create Very Detailed Information about Your Persona’s Professional Life

Now it’s time to dig a little deeper and describe the more important aspects of your persona’s life. Specifically, you want to describe what type of job they have, who they work for, and their role in the company. An individual’s profession is often central to their life and has the ability to heavily influence their values. In addition, your research may have uncovered the fact that the majority of people who need your product or service work for a certain industry or have a similar business size (e.g. small businesses in the insurance industry). Having a persona to represent that market segment will help give you a deeper understanding of your audience.

Step 4: Describe the Persona’s Motivations, Fears, Obstacles, and Challenges

To give your persona even more depth, you now need to need to define their motivators and goals. One way to bridge the gap between a persona and real-life people is by conducting face-to-face interviews. Though not essential to persona creation, interviews will certainly help give you an accurate understanding of how your product or service integrates into their lives. Understanding the driving forces behind people’s choices will help you in a variety of ways. You will be able to craft marketing messages more relevant to your clients and potentially even uncover further problems that your business can solve with new products and services.

Common examples of motivators include self-improvement, family, hunger, thirst, emotions such as fear, and an aspiration for improved beauty, but there are countless others. However you must understand that the driving motivations for customers are differ across various industries. For example, the reason someone buys a pain reliever will be drastically different than the reason someone chooses to subscribe to information technology security content on an authority site. Dig deep and consider the emotions, feelings, and thought processes of your audience.

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About 

Will Hanke owns Saint Louis’ top independent Internet Marketing firm, Red Canoe Media. In addition to helping some of St Louis’ most recognizable brands with their online marketing strategy, Will also is an Amazon bestselling author, speaker and teacher.

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