Customer personas are the foundation of personalized marketing that converts.  Armed with airtight personas, you can address your prospects’ pain-points and tap into the motivation behind their decision to buy.

Customer Persona:  A fictional person, rooted in research, that represents the needs and interests of  your audience.  

Hint:  Learn why personas are an important building block for marketing in our Simple Introduction to Customer Personas.

Personas are fictional people, but to understand their motivations and challenges, you want them to feel as real as possible. To build an effective persona for each segment of your audience:

  • Create an identity.
  • Understand their day-to-day challenges.
  • Uncover the problems that your business can help solve.

Bonus:  Grab our Persona Workbook to start building your own personas.  

Craft an Identity

Find out who your persona is and give them a backstory.  Ask:

  • What is their name?
  • What generation are they from?
  • What is their home life like?
  • What is their level of education?

Joe the single twenty-something is going to have different motivations than Mary the 40-something divorcée with 2.5 kids.

Construct a Day-in-the-Life

Think about the routines and processes your persona embarks upon every day.  Ask questions like:

  • Where do they go every day?  Do they wake up and head to the office each day?  Are they the jet-setting type?
  • How do they communicate?  Do they pick up the phone and dial? Do they send out a Tweet?  
  • What is their role?  Do they wear many hats each day? Are they in a stringent position?
  • How do they work?  Are they managing a team? Do they work independently?
  • What is the best way to reach them?  Are they tech-savvy?  Are they technically challenged?
  • What personality characteristics do they possess?  Are they goal oriented? Do they tend to be complacent?
  • What is their environment like?  Are they suburbanites? City folk?  

Use insights about the daily achievements, struggles, and processes of your personas uncover what motivates them to take action.

Uncover Pain-Points

Hypothesize, then validate through research (more on that below), the biggest challenges your persona might face.

What problems does your persona have?  Where do their obstacles intersect with your expertise?  What specific challenges can you help them overcome?

Once you’ve tapped into your customers’ challenges you can:

  • Develop value-added content that solves a problem for your customers, keeping your business top-of-mind.
  • Position your products and services in a way that addresses their challenges.
  • Create new programs, products, and service offerings that meet their needs.

Persona Research

Personas are imaginary, but they are rooted in real life.  One of the advantages of being a small business owner is that you connect with your customers every day.  Likely, you’re more in touch with your customers than say the CEO or VP of Marketing at a large corporation.

The first versions of your personas might be built on educated guesses and hypothesis.  That’s a great start, since you innately know things about your customer base.  But don’t assume anything.  Reach out to your customers and prospects in your target market to continue to learn about their identity, motivations and challenges.  Continue to revisit your personas and let them evolve as you discover more about their real-life counterparts. Do this by meeting with customers in person, creating places for feedback at your brick and mortar location, or sending out quarterly surveys with tools like Surveygizmo or Survey Monkey.

When you try to be everything to everyone, you spread yourself too thin and end up being nothing to no one. Instead, develop personas based on the 2 or 3 main types of customers you have.  Use your personas to create messaging and content that feels like it’s meant for a single person, and everyone will feel like you’re reaching out to them individually.

persona-workbook-coverReady to get started building your personas? Grab our handy Persona Workbook and start building personas for the 2 to 3 main types of customers that you sell to.