Creating customer personas should be simple, right? Theyâre fundamental to a good marketing strategy – the starting point for tailoring your marketing messages to the right types of customers, ensuring theyâre relevant and in the right tone of voice.
But in our experience, many marketers struggle to create personas that are actually useful – often making them too broad or too specific.
Weâve been doing a lot of work with customer personas lately, and have come up with a few tips to make developing usable personas a bit simpler.
Keep personas focused
A common mistake when developing customer personas is to make them too generic. Personas should sound like real people, rather than broad market segments. If youâre targeting âworking mumsâ, for example, youâll need to be a bit more specific; âworking mums trying to balance school runs and sportsâ is better, but still too broad to be of much value. A more useful persona would sound something like this:
âLisa is a working mum with two children, one in primary school and the other in high school. Between working, picking up the kids from different schools, and running them to football practice and violin lessons, sheâs strapped for time.â
Include enough details to make your persona realistic, without adding too much extraneous information. Common practice is to break down your persona by:
- Description: Who are they? (age, gender, career, marital status, etc.)
- Pains: What are their needs? What obstacles do they face that your product / service can help them with?
- Goals: What are they trying to achieve?
Keep the description, pains and goals relevant to your product / service so your personas stay on track and donât get bloated with unnecessary information. For example, if your customerâs weekend hobbies donât impact their decision to purchase, thereâs no need to include them in your persona.
Humanise your persona
To be useful, personas must help you visualise real people – a nameless, faceless list of behaviours, pains and goals wonât do. Pick a reasonable name for each persona and choose a real photo (not a graphic) to represent them.
This will help you remember that youâre talking to real people when you begin using them to tailor your marketing messages. It also helps your brainstorming sessions stay focused and accurate during the creation process.
If youâre struggling to come up with names or photos, Random User Generator is a helpful (and free) tool. Donât worry about all the code – simply hover over the photo and click the ânewâ button to refresh the name and photo until you get one that fits your persona.
Validate with customer feedback
Before you finalise your personas, youâll want to make sure they really do describe the people that are buying from you – and one of the best ways to do that is by using your existing customers as a point of reference.
This is an important step, although the way you go about it will vary based on the relationship you have with your current customers and the opportunities you have to engage with them. Youâll get the best results by simply talking to individual customers about their pain points, needs and goals – whether thatâs in a focus group or simply in casual conversation. A survey or feedback form can also work well.
Make sure the questions you ask will give you insight into your customerâs goals and biggest challenges, and how your product or service helps. Then use their responses to validate the pains and goals youâve described for each persona.
Well-developed personas should be a key element of your marketing strategy. Theyâll help inform the content and tone of voice, not only for your outbound marketing comms, but also for your website, blog and other collateral.
Download the free guide to get more in-depth tips on developing and using customer personas.