Personas

 

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of an ideal customer for a product or service based on market research and data garnered from real, existing customers. Think of a persona as your buyer’s character profile and backstory.

Personas are most useful when they focus on behavior patterns, motivations, lifestyle, and goals. The more detailed, the better. Buyer personas take into account the situation and role of the buyer and the jobs they are trying to do as they move through their journey.

Once a persona is defined, you can then add demographics or firmographics to round out the profile. A thirty-something newly divorced mom who recently moved to a smaller place and is looking to buy the basic household necessities quickly without spending too much, and who cares more about immediate functionality than long-term value, is an example of a buyer persona.

Types of Personas

It’s important to recognize that there are different types of personas. Especially in the B2B context, keep in mind that a user is not necessarily the same as a buyer. Each has motivators, emotions, jobs-to-be-done (JTBD), desired outcomes, and success measures; therefore, separate personas may be needed. In a nutshell, a buyer persona describes who the buyer is and how that affects his/her decision making in the buyer’s journey.

A user persona focuses on what the user of the product or service does or expects to be able to do when s/he uses your product and is often based on user experience data gathered by watching the user interact with the product. User personas can be especially valuable in creating user guides and documentation, and in product design. And don’t dismiss user documentation as a non-marketing form of content. Every interaction with the customer (buyer or user) contributes to getting a job done and getting your company a loyal, lifelong advocate and customer.

When using personas, we often construct “user stories.” These stories are just a way of articulating the user JTBD, and typically follow the format:

As a {user persona} I want to {goal/JTBD} so that {benefit/outcome}

Example: “As a commuter, I want something substantial and engaging but convenient and non-messy to drink on my way to work, so that I can stay alert during the commute and stave off hunger until my lunch break.”

Steps to Creating Personas

  1. Segment your market. Be sure your segments are outcome-based as described above, and that you have ranked them as targets by priority. You’ll want to follow each of the subsequent steps for each segment/outcome you are targeting. 
  2. Identify persona type and goals. Are you creating a user persona or a buyer persona? Your answer to this question is a prescription for data points and corresponding story details.
  3. Analyze research data. Analyze the research data, with particular attention to personal details and verbatim responses from customer research subjects. Note any preferences, behavior patterns, motivations, fears, and so on associated with segments and particular jobs-to-be-done and job outcomes (using the outcome-driven innovation (ODI) process). You’ll use these details to add context and descriptive content to your persona characterizations.
  4. Draft JTBD-based user stories. Use the format described earlier in this chapter. Make this story “synopsis” the foundation for your persona.
  5. Create your persona stories and scenarios. Once you’ve outlined the key information per the table above, your next step is to write the persona profiles. Remember to cast the descriptions as stories – that is, use long-form narrative or detailed bullet points to produce a vivid and true-to-life narrative.
  6. Develop the persona tool, and educate users and stakeholders. This step is often overlooked. If you expect your organization to use and derive benefit from your personas, you’ll need to make it easy for team members to get to know the personas.
  7. Review, evaluate, and refine. Incorporate a review, evaluation, and refinement process into your overall content marketing plan. Like any other marketing initiatives, your personas deserve to be kept current and valid.
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