Identifying, understanding and segmenting your customers has always been important to successful marketing planning. It is one of the first steps in our messaging and creative strategy process and often the most difficult for client teams to agree upon. With so much riding on it and so many differing opinions, it’s great to have a more measured approach. Welcome personas.

Personas are fictional representations of your customers that can help you understand the behaviors, motivations and concerns of different customer segments. Personas use demographic and psychographic (attitudes, aspirations and other psychological traits) information to define the personalities of your audience segments.

Good personas also define audience objectives and obstacles to reaching them; this will help you illustrate how your products and services enable your customers to achieve their goals. In addition, personas can help you develop messaging, creative and content that resonates and generates marketing results.

Developing personas was an important and valuable tool during our rebranding engagement with Wolter, Inc. Here are three tips you can use to build stronger personas.


Start with Research

While you might think you know who your customers are, it pays to start with a thorough analysis.

Customer Data – Sort your customer list by contact title to determine which titles are the most common and if there are natural categories or groupings they fall into. This may be helpful in determining how many personas you should develop. If your company’s products or services are complex or require a significant capital investment, the number of decision makers and influencers involved is likely broader, thus a need to develop more personas. The same is true If you offer multiple product categories for several customers and prospects.

Surveys – Review any existing surveys your company has done to uncover information that helps describe your customer demographics, purchasing habits, opinions, motivations, pain points and hot buttons. Or, if you don’t have any survey data, embark on a short survey of customers or website visitors. A deep dive into your Google Analytics can also be useful here.

Industry Associations & Media Outlets – Check to see if industry associations that serve your vertical market have created personas. Trade media outlets can also provide helpful clues. Their media kits often include reader demographics that are useful for persona descriptions. Consider inquiring with your media sales representative to see whether they have any additional reader research.


Develop a Template

Think about what information will be most helpful to your marketing efforts and outline it for each different persona. We like to use a template for this. From simple to in-depth, there are many template examples available.

Here are a few Marketing Persona Categories to consider for your template:

  • Job Title
  • Responsibilities
  • Purchase Triggers
  • Pain Points
  • Products/Attributes They Appreciate
  • Barriers to Purchase
  • Resources & Influencers


Be an Online Sleuth

There’s a multitude of information available online today that can help you further refine your personas. For example, job sites and job boards can help you determine roles and responsibilities and social media outlets such as LinkedIn can also be useful.

Job Sites – Visit online job sites and glean from the roles, responsibilities and qualifications for different job titles.

LinkedIn Profiles – View a cross section of customers’ LinkedIn profiles to gather demographics as well as information about groups and associations they belong to and trade shows or events they are attending. Plus, looking at what kinds of information they are sharing and commenting on will provide more clues about what is most important to them.

Still looking for more inspiration?

Here are a couple examples of customer personas we have created on behalf of clients: Wolter, Inc. Personas, Consumer Product Marketing Personas.