Guest Post: Tips on How to Construct Customer Personas

Photo via    Pixabay

Photo via Pixabay

Welcome to Customer Personas Part 2 with Brand & Marketing Consultant, Di Wheatley. In last week’s post, Di defined what a Customer Persona is and why we use them as building blocks of marketing planning. This week, she is sharing tips on how to construct them. 

How to construct a Persona

While there are various templates out there (many designed for specific use cases), this example should help get you started in terms of the main elements to include.

Below is a quickly crafted Persona for imaginary Kit Car company, providing examples of the key types of information to look for and how we might complete the Persona for Out-to-impress, Sporty Sam. 

Element Made-up Example, Type of Content
Header/Summary Out-to-Impress, Sporty Sam
Background and demographics 24, single, lives on outskirts of Leeds in his first shared flat, earns £25k per year as trainee store manager at T-K Max
What he/she is looking for? An inexpensive car that punches above its weight
What influences him/her? What his friends like and what cars his friends drive (and aspire to drive), what’s cool
Hopes & dreams? A top-of-the-range A3 sport, buy his own flat, get a promotion
Worries & fears? Being left behind if his mates move up the career ladder quicker than he does
What influences him/her? Mates
How does he/she spend his time e.g., daytime/evening routings Work's a big part of his life and he works a lot of overtime. Mid-week evenings he’s down the gym and often eats late. Sees his mates at the weekend and pops into see his folks when he’s not at the garage fixing cars on a Sunday.
What brands he/she likes? TKMax, Apple, Adidas
And doesn’t? M&S, Huawei, Nike
Where does he/she go for information (on/offline)? Instagram, Facebook (groups)
What are his/her online behaviours? Spends time in the morning checking chat on his phone and looks at it on and off through work breaks during the day. Surfs his favourite groups in the evening. Passive reader rather than contributor. Uses an app for fitness.

Now you have an example to work from, here are a few tips on perfecting your persona even further: 

1. Make it REAL 

It often helps to start by thinking about someone you actually know, who you feel is a good fit for your typical customer (or would be). 

2. Safety in Numbers

While it’s helpful to think of an individual, you need to balance this by not making assumptions that everyone is the same. Speak to at least 20 customers and complete the same information set for them all. You can then aggregate your findings so that you have the ‘highest common denominator’ e.g., what’s true for the majority.

3. Build, Refine, Update

Life moves fast, markets are forever shifting. Don’t rest on your Persona laurels. 

Review the Personas regularly and challenge the information to hand.

Better still, put in place a formal programme of customer (and prospect) interviews to ensure you are tapping into current thinking. Make sure you have a central and agreed place to collect data. Be prepared to update or change what you have. 

4. Buddy-up 

It can be hard to pull out the information you need from the prospect conversations you’ve had when you’re a small or growing business. Why not ask one of your friendly marketing contacts outside the business to spend an hour with you over a coffee and get them to help draw out the key points based on template?

Or ask a colleague who works with your customers, instead. You’ll typically get a lot further, a lot faster, as a pair. It will help keep you honest to have someone to ‘interrogate’ information. 

5. Share the love

Once you’ve got your Personas, ensure everyone in your organisation knows what they are and consider assigning someone to be responsible for ‘owning’ these on the system. This helps to ensure everyone is pulling in the same direction and knows who or where to go to add helpful new information so you can continue to improve them!

Good luck! 

Di Wheatley is an independent brand and marketing consultant with deep experience building brands for businesses big and small in the UK and internationally. She specialises in corporate positioning and has worked with some of the world’s best-known brands. She’s also a mentor and keynote speaker for London-based pre-accelerator, FastForward. 

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