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Persona profiles
Sep 06, 2023

Personas 101: A guide to identifying your ideal customer

Dayna Lang
Author Dayna Lang

Taking the time to make personas gives advertisers a critical tool for making educated and empathetic marketing strategies.

Personas let marketers make informed decisions about for whom, where, when, and how often to place an ad. They also let them understand their customers and make better decisions about creative assets. 

Since personas are so important, let’s explore what exactly it is. 

Jennifer Clinehens, author of Choice Hacking: How to Use Psychology and Behavioral Science to Create an Experience that Sings, defines a persona as “a semi-fictional representation of a group of your customers, boiled down into one representative character. Personas bring your customers to life through both demographic and psychographic details.”

Put simply, it is a character created by marketers to represent their audience segments  in an easily relatable format that allows them to better target their strategies.

It also answers a multitude of questions, too. Who is your customer? What age are they? What are their problems? Their interests? These are critical questions that marketers need to answer in order to create an impactful campaign. 

These characterizations enable marketers to personalize their marketing and more impactfully target various audience segments. 

 

Personas are critical to campaign success

They are critical to success because they let you easily tailor messaging and strategies to match your target audience. They make it possible to not only customize your content, messaging, and services, but to do so as an informed party. 

With personas, marketers are better able to understand their customers needs, behaviors, and pain points, so they therefore are able to make better decisions when planning their ad strategies. 

They are also essential for mapping out customer journeys. After all, how can you understand a person’s buying journey if you don’t first understand who they are? 

 

Research based personas 

Personas help marketers bring life to their ideal customers, but that doesn’t mean that this character is invented. They are characters grounded in reality. 

It is important that marketers use accurate and up to date research in order to create their personas. This research can be drawn from existing customer data as well as market research into your target audience’s demographics. It is a mental shortcut for marketers, not a work of fiction. 

Another aspect of research that is critical is interviewing and involving customer facing team members. These team members interact with your customers on a daily basis; if anyone in an organization is an expert on a target audience, it is them.

Marketers should use both this qualitative information, as well as quantitative data in order to understand the interests, needs, beliefs, and actions of current and potential customers. Additionally, they need to avoid cherry-picking data in order to support assumptions or stereotypes. 

 

Making impactful personas

So, how do you make a persona for your target customer

There isn’t a set list of characters or stereotypes to build off of. There is also no definitive or universally-accepted list of personas or set number of recommended personas either. 

This is because every business, regardless of industry or size, has its own unique needs, goals, and customers. Buyer personas, therefore, should also be unique, to fit the specific needs of their organizations.

In creating new personas for your business, your first steps are as follows: 

  1. Take a close look at the existing customers and contacts in your database. Look for  patterns in behavior and the ways in which leads and customers discover and engage with your content. If you are without an existing customer base, use primary and secondary sources to gather research.
  2. Gather information when collecting leads. This can be done when creating forms for your website; Be sure to include form fields that capture the personal information that is important to you. For instance, if your personas differ based on the company size of your leads, it is recommended to ask for that information.
  3. Listen to feedback and information from your sales team regarding leads and customers; after all, they interact with these clients on a daily basis and have a valuable perspective. What observations can they make about the different types of customers you serve most effectively? What do they think needs to be improved?
  4. Conduct interviews with customers and prospects to gather feedback on their preferences regarding your product or service.

 

You then want to start researching. Conduct necessary and in-depth research in order to learn more about your customers. As you research, be sure to ask ample questions about your target audience. 

In this stage, and the stages following, be sure to engage customer-facing members of your team. These team members understand your audience best and have necessary insight into the wants, needs, and pain points of your existing customer base.

By asking questions about their life, likes, and pain points, you can drive your research deeper and create a more effective persona. Human beings are complex, so your person should be too. 

Next, use this research to create a profile for your persona. This should include all of your researched details. Tell a story about who they are and paint a picture – literally – of their interests and behaviors.  

Sample persona
Example of a persona template available on Canva

 

If necessary, there are ample templates available online to help get you started; starting from scratch may be intimidating for some marketers. Personas are all unique, thus be sure to adjust these templates so that they match the exact needs of your brand.

Be sure to also revisit your work on a regular basis in order to refresh your personas as markets and demographics shift.

Creating personas for your target audience is necessary for effectively communicating them and a critical step in journey advertising. By fully understanding your customer and by making it easy to share that information with your entire team, you are creating an impactful tool for engaging current and future customers along their entire journey from awareness to loyalty. 

 

To see more from illumin, be sure to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn where we share interesting news and insights from the worlds of ad tech and advertising.

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