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Personas: Fictional stories that help tell your customers’ stories

We’ve heard it a thousand times: You never truly know someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. In other words, it takes time and effort to truly know and understand someone…especially your customers.

Personas are visual, fictional stories that describe your actual customers and enable your organization to better understand those customers’ wants, needs and behaviors. The popularity of personas is on the rise for this reason. In fact, according to a 2014 survey, 44 percent of businesses currently use personas, while 29 percent plan to within the next 12 months. To find out more about personas and how they can help your organization gain a better understanding of your customers, keep reading.

8 steps to developing personas

There are many things to consider when you begin developing your personas. This eight-step guide can help:

Step one—Segment: Segment your target audiences by location, demographics, buyer behavior and more. Once you’ve identified your segments, you can examine them for growth potential, market size, profitability and so on.

Step two—Brainstorm: Invite customers and employees from across the company to help brainstorm personality characteristics for each segment. Mood stress relievers or stickers make fun brainstorming tools to help get the conversation started. Once you have your list of traits, group them by similarities. For a great visual example, check out our Personas Blue Paper®.

Step three—Interview: Identify and interview buyers who match—and those who do not match—the key segments and mapped character traits from the previous steps. This ensures an accurate depiction of your entire customer base. You’ll want to ask interviewees about:

    • Demographic information
    • Current career and aspiration
    • Free time and interests
    • Pain points they’ve experienced with your company
    • Process they use to explore and select a product, service or solution

And don’t forget to thank them for their time with a small token of gratitude—game sets, tumblers filled with candies or popcorn tins make nice gifts.

Step four—Identify and prioritize: You’re now ready to analyze your research to identify and prioritize potential personas. It is recommended you select three to seven personas that accurately represent each product or service line.

Step five—Write: It’s time to put all your research to good use! When writing your fictional customer representations, try to steer clear of stereotypes—focus on connecting with the actual customers you’re targeting.

Step six—Discuss and finalize: You’ll want to obtain team and leadership approval. Be prepared to discuss the benefits of personas and address any concerns that may arise.

Step seven—Integrate: Once buy-in is finalized, personas need to be integrated into your business processes. Use your personas to better target ad spend and develop more personalized experiences for your customers.

Step eight—Measure and refine: As with all worthwhile marketing efforts, you’ll want to measure outcomes and refine your personas to ensure you have an accurate depiction of your target segments.

Remember, personas can help your organization better understand its customers, including their wants, needs and pain points. Have a read at our Personas Blue Paper® for more in-depth information.

“Personas.”  4imprint.com. N.p., 09 Dec. 2014. Web. Retrieved 31 Dec. 2014.

Revella, Adele. “Got Buyer Personas? 44% say yes, but 85% aren’t using them effectively.” Buyer Persona Institute Blog. Buyer Persona Institute, 06 Aug. 2014. Web. Retrieved 23 Oct. 2014.

“Segment Your Customers.” Quebec Info for Entrepreneurs. Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, 2009. Web. Retrieved 25 Oct. 2014.

Eridon, Corey. “9 Questions You Need to Ask When Developing Buyer Personas.” HubSpot Blogs. N.p. 19 Jan. 2012. Web. Retrieved 25 Sept. 2014.

Schwartz, Nancy E. “Create Personas to Bridge the Gap with Target Audiences.” Getting Attention: Helping Nonprofits Succeed Through Effective Marketing. Nancy Schwartz & Co., 2014. Web. Retrieved 02 Oct. 2014.

Blue Papers

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