Let’s begin with what a persona actually is.
Essentially, it’s a way of building up a profile of your target client. What their needs and problems are, what they want help with, and even how old they are, what job they do and what personal interests they have.
While some of these things may not feel that critical to you, they are important factors in how they might decide to purchase from you. And most importantly, they are the foundation on which you should build all your marketing activity.
Personas help you to focus your marketing on the aspects that are most important to your client, and not you – there’s a big difference and it’s where many small businesses go wrong. Talking about yourself, or your own company is always far less compelling that talking about how you can solve your client’s issues and needs.
How to create personas
Firstly, a quick internet search will reveal a number of ready-made templates you can use. They list the key information you need to focus on for each persona.
We like this template from Xtensio, it’s free to download and use, and although the standard template is quite detailed, you can pick and choose which elements you want to include.
Once you’ve chosen your template, decide how many personas you’ll need to create. Think about your core target client – it’s likely you’ll have more than one type, different ages, genders, locations etc. We recommend you have 3-5 personas which are enough to cover things off effectively but not so many they start to become a little wishy-washy.
To get started, write down the typical age and gender of your target client. Then start asking yourself some questions:
- Does your business target women in their 20s-30s for instance, or is it aimed at both men and women of a broader age group?
- Are you focusing on a specific region or location?
- Are your target clients professionals, what type of job might they have?
- What are their goals (lose weight, tone up for their wedding, eat more healthily etc)?
- What are their challenges (short on time, finds staying motivated difficult etc)?
- What are their interests and hobbies likely to be?
Here’s an example of a completed persona:
Now talk to your clients (or prospective clients)
Ok, so here’s the really important part. Yes, you can use your own knowledge and expertise to create a draft persona for your typical client. But if you don’t actually check their accuracy, you’re in danger of making decisions on how to market to them based on quite a few assumptions.
It’s critical you arrange to speak to at least one person who matches each persona profile and ask them to sense check your assumptions. One question I like to always ask people is ‘what keeps you awake at night?’, the answer will always give you insight into how you can shape and market your product or service to answer that need.
Now you’ve got your personas ready, it’s time to use them to build a marketing plan for your business. We’ll look at how to do that in another blog post coming soon. But if you have any questions or comments in the meantime, pop them below and we’ll get back to you.