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What you need to know about personas

Personas are a must-have for any digital strategy. Learn what value personas bring to your business and how to get started.

Marty Drill

By Marty Drill, 6 February 20206 minute read

Does your content marketing get into the mind’s eye of your readers and convert? Businesses trying to get into the heads of their customers is a tale as old as time. And there’s a reason it’s not always easy. Humans are a complicated bunch. We all have unique needs, behaviours, expectations and goals.

So, how can you make a connection with your audience? Better yet, how do you understand who your audience even is and what they care about? The answer is personas. And no, not the ones written on a whim and never looked at again. The good kind.

What are personas?

Personas are a written representation of your organisation’s ideal audience. Created on the back of market research and data from your existing customers, you can distil the essence of real people into personas. Then, you can build your content strategy around their needs.

Personas are three-dimensional characters who have a name, job, interests, attitudes, desires, limitations, goals and behavioural patterns. For content strategists, marketers and businesses, this holds the key to impactful content. 

What’s the difference between demographics and personas?   

Your target market includes basic demographics like gender, age, income and so on. While this information can be valuable, it’s also surface-level. Personas, on the other hand, dig deeper and tell you exactly who you’re speaking to.

For example, you may start with a woman named Alice in her mid 30s who likes fitness, and go from there. Channelling your inner psychologist, you’re trying to get into Alice’s head and understand what makes her tick. You may delve into questions like:

  • What job does she have?
  • What does her day look like?
  • What things are essential to her?
  • What professional and personal needs does she have?
  • What challenges does she experience?
  • Where does she go for resources?

Think of personas as real people. Once you have your dossiers in place, you can write to your personas. This is a far cry more targeted than trying to capture the attention of the general public or an entire demographic. It also greatly informs your content’s tone of voice and messaging.

How do personas create value for your business?

Put simply, developing personas helps you create content that appeals to your target audience, rather than a generic one. It should provide insight into why customers would be looking for your product or service offering, as well as why they may pick you over your competitors. Equipped with this information, you’ll be able to create marketing that speaks to this customer’s unique problems.

Uncover your audience’s motivators and pain points 

Drivers are things that interest your customer, while their pain points are struggles they may face that prompt them to look for a solution. Play to this and you may just crack their code to “how to win me over”.

Understand the customer journey

Using a customer journey, you can unpack potential touchpoints your customers have with your business, and opportunities to make an impression.

Think of your business as a tram and the passenger’s trip as the customer journey. There are several steps before and after the tram ride that impact the person’s experience, as well as the tram ride itself. Considering the impact of those touchpoints gives you a more comprehensive understanding of how to help overcome your customers’ roadblocks.

The customer journey, paired with your personas, help you identify your customers’ needs, emotions and, ultimately, how to get them involved with your business.

Create better, more targeted content  

Does your business find it challenging to create engaging content? With specific personas in mind, you can craft strategic, purposeful messaging that speaks directly to your chosen audience. For example, a university may identify an international student as one of its personas.

International students may have unique concerns or interests, such as grasping a deeper understanding of Australian culture. To speak to this, a university could write articles on cultural differences you may experience in Australia. By laser-focusing your content, you’ll be better placed to convert more customers.

Maintain consistent brand language

Speaking in a consistent tone of voice helps humanise your brand. Personas influence the way your brand sounds – as you match your tone to fit who you’re speaking to. Incorporating personas into your brand style guide means that many moving parts in a big business are clear on who you need to appeal to. Once you know this, you have a foundation to facilitate better connection and trust with your audience.

Tips for persona development

 Alright. So, we know how personas are pretty essential to any business’ marketing. Let’s take a look at how you can develop your personas.

Get that data

Use any tools at your disposal, such as Google Analytics, to get as much user information as possible. Google Analytics reveals basic demographic information, but it can also tell you interests and other handy data.

Look at any key data points you have about your current customer base and see what your competitors are up to. Surveys and interviews can also reveal deep insights. Look for patterns and see if the bare bones of a persona begin to emerge.

Limit yourself to 3-5 user profiles

Tempting as it may be to create a long list of personas, it’s best to keep things specific. Aim for three to four personas, with five as a maximum. Remember, you don’t want to stray into generic territory.

Bring them to life

Since we’re treating personas as real people, don’t omit the details. Give them a name. Put a face to them (even a stock image). Ask what they do for work. Consider the following questions: 

  • How much do they earn?
  • What problems are they experiencing?
  • What goals do they have?
  • What do they care about?

Take a walk in their shoes

The persona should have enough psychological details that you can easily step into their point of view. Get those empathetic juices flowing. When making decisions, creating content or strategising, get into character and experience it from the persona’s perspective.

Answer their ‘Where will you find me and how will you win me over?’  

Consider where this persona would go for information or to engage with brands. One persona may use Instagram a lot, whereas another may exclusively use LinkedIn and emails. Once you identify this, you can craft content to get them on the channels they use with a targeted message.

Personas are a fundamental part of any business’ digital strategy. Whether you manage your content internally or externally, personas are an asset. Luminary can guide your team to greater heights, with our technical and strategic know-how. To learn more about Persona development  or our digital strategy services, get in touch with us today.

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