Join Doug Ladd for an in-depth discussion in this video Communicating customer personas within your organization, part of Marketing Foundations: Customer Segmentation.
- When someone looks at your profile on LinkedIn, you do have one don't you? How well would they be able to describe you to someone else? If you've done an excellent and thoughtful job of detailing your experiences, capabilities, skills, demographics and goals, you've created an effective profile. A good customer persona can be used the same way. If you create a document that profiles a customer segment complete with a semi-fictional character, description of the roles this character has, the goals of the character, the challenges he faces, some demographics and a story that brings him to life, you've succeeded in developing a customer persona that can move your business forward.
So let's talk about how to use this customer persona to communicate with other people in your organization so they can help you build the best possible marketing plans and tools. When reading through a customer persona document, you want to ask a series of questions. First, do I have a semi-fictional character description that captures the essence of my target? This is really important. The necessary components should include a name, the character's title, and this doesn't just have to be the title in their company, if they even work for one.
For example, in the household goods market, there may have a segment of customers with the title, "Chief Cleaner-Upper." An image of the character and it should represent a typical customer in this segment. This is important because the design team may want to get a sense for how this person looks and dresses, what size they are, et cetera. Next, you should ask the question: Do I have an understanding of what a day in the life of this character is like? With a solid customer persona, you should be able to construct a one or two paragraph summary of the key insights you have about this customer.
What success looks like for him, what motivates him. Moving on to the third evaluation method, you should be able to gain a quick sense of the demographics and behaviors of this persona. These data points are helpful because they'll be used to assist in targeting the character via advertising, media, and outreach. You should next read through the document to ensure you've got a solid grasp of the character's goals. This should be reflected not only in a section called, "Goals," but also in the story.
Can you get a feel for what the character is trying to achieve? What motivates him? What are his aspirations? Ideally, you want to understand what benefits he's seeking when making a purchase-decision in this category. For example, if he's the one responsible for buying clothing detergent for his home, are his goals to just get the laundry clean or is he looking for ways to make his clothes last longer before they look old? The fifth set of descriptors you should be able to learn from the customer persona are the pain points this customer faces today.
This is critical to understand because most consumers make decisions as an effort to avoid pain. The type of pain to which I'm referring isn't necessarily need to be physical. Does this persona highlight areas where he gets frustrated? Feels remorse over past decisions? Agonizes over making choices? Feels confusion about information? These are great sources for the identification of product ideas, communication opportunities and service offerings. Next, you want to see if the personas uncovered the information search process for this customer.
Does the document help you understand what triggers his search? How he evaluates information? What communication sources he trusts and how he compares his options? Understanding this will be useful in the design of your communication plan to reach the target persona. Our next indicator of the quality of the persona you've created is whether or not someone who reads it can determine what the ideal purchase experience would be for this target customer. How does he buy? How does he use the product and services in this area? What happens after the purchase? By researching this area, you may uncover unmet needs or gaps in your current offerings that could help differentiate your business.
The eighth area of inspection is to look for common objections used by the character. What you want to be able to understand from reading the persona is the reasons why this target may not want to or even may not be able to make a purchase decision. It's possible that this persona doesn't have the purchase authority or access to payment terms. Or it could be that he's really brand-loyal to a product he grew up using. Being able to discern these blockers to a sale would be valuable inputs for your marketing plan.
Finally, we want to see if the persona document has a story that tells us about the target. A story can be a few paragraphs long and it should be memorable. People in your organization want to be able to read the story and connect it to the name you've chosen for the persona. This helps build interest and retention to the important details. You'll find a handout in the exercise files that lists these nine items so you can assess the quality of the personas you've created. Try building a customer persona and then use this checklist to see if you've hit the key-quality criteria.
- Segmenting by location
- Segmenting by demographics
- Segmenting by usage or other behavior
- Why segmenting is important
- Creating and using customer personas