How to create personas at pace (and make them super useful)

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The creation of marketing personas is the bread and butter of marketers – but just how useful is it? Too often, it becomes a box ticking exercise with digital marketers held ransom by 10,000 vague personas. As a digital marketer – your time is precious, so you need to develop robust personas in the simplest yet most cost effective way. Here are three essential rules to stick to when creating your personas:

Delve into the data – but fast

While personas are part-fiction, you’ll need to gather a certain amount of data to create a realistic buyer profile. But pressure to have the ‘right kind’ of data, or amass tons of data, can cause businesses to delay this process. The truth is, you’ll be tweaking buyer personas continually due to market forces or simply as you learn more about how they engage with your products. Additionally, if you’re a start up or working on a new proposition for the business, data from previous customer purchases just won’t be available. So our tip? Never let perfection be the enemy of progress. 

List out all of the areas you can gather data from, these might be:

  • Your sales team – how do products get sold currently, what do customers like, what do they dislike? 
  • Your current contacts. Comb through your database – how often are customers buying, what are they buying and how are they buying it? Who are your repeat customers?
  • Your prospects. Interview your prospects – to begin with you could interview as few people as three – you do not need to view this process as finite. HubSpot has a hugely useful list of questions you might want to use for inspiration. Just a few buyer personas will help you build a useful picture of how people – and businesses – are engaging with products and services like yours. 
  • External agency – use a third party to plan and carry out your surveys. You might not have the resources to call, email or speak to people so using a trusted agency can be incredibly helpful.


Keep it simple

We already know how important simplicity is in buying decisions. And the same principle applies for how we work. Studies show that too much data inhibits our ability to make decisions. You might have gathered tons of data for your customer personas – but how much can you and the business actually use? You need to make sure you cut through useless ‘incidental data’, organise it fast and in the simplest way possible, identifying patterns or similarities. Again, don’t get bogged down in the details – this is an iterative process. Divide your data up into key areas, for example:

  • Demographics (age, location, job role)
  • Needs (what does this person require in order to carry out their day job) 
  • Pain points (what might hold this person back from achieving their goals)
  • Psychographics - the persona’s values and goals
  • Communication preferences
  • Buying profile – how your persona makes purchase decision

Based on the commonalities you find, plus any previous knowledge, you should now have the outline of several customer personas. Some of these personas, if you end up with a raft of them, might be amalgamated too. For example, if you have a buyer persona of a CTO and that of a senior executive who is also responsible for technology in a business. The key to creating effective customer personas is to keep it simple. 


Speak their language

Now that you know exactly who your personas are, you are closer to being able to tailor your messages to each one. Why is this so important? Buyers are more likely to respond to messages which address their ‘pain points’. HubSpot cites a study from the University of Texas, which found that our preference for personalised experiences comes down to two factors – our desire for control and our preference to avoid ‘information overload.’ If you make it both simple and personal, buyers find it easier to take action. If you’ve carried out interviews with customers and prospects you should have real quotes you can use, so that your sales team will be able to gauge how different segments of your customer base talk. And, if you can echo that language – you’ll reach your audience faster. That means cutting out any industry jargon, and tailoring your terminology. To make it easier for you to remember, you can create a ‘story’ for each persona, a paragraph of text written for each one which details how they like to be reached and what motivates them. This should be brief and act as an aide-mémoire for you and your business so that every single bit of content created is done so with the customer in mind.

If you’d like to know how to build marketing personas and get the most out of your data, why not book a free online consultation with one of our digital marketing experts?


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