What are personas?

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Researching, understanding and building character profiles-or marketing personas-for your customer base or target market is the cornerstone of any business plan, but what are personas exactly?

According to a report by DemandGen, well-known brand Thomson Reuters found that “Buyer personas contributed to a 175% increase in revenue attributed to marketing, 10% increase in leads sent to sales, and a 72% reduction in lead conversion time.”

Truly knowing who your customers are and why they do what they do unlocks the potential for highly attuned marketing personalization, product/service development and increased sales.

Persona Development

You can develop the most accurate and effective personas through examining qualitative and quantitative data.

Quantitative data includes things that can be defined by numbers. This could include a customer's age, income and asset levels. Perusing traditional market research sources is a useful start for gathering quantitative data.

Qualitative data, on the other hand, includes things that are researched facts but not necessarily quantifiable. For example, qualitative data is sometimes called categorical data because it can be grouped or categorized but not given a number attribution.

ThoughtCo, an educational website, describes the importance of qualitative data this way: "Essentially, qualitative data is important because it allows statisticians to form parameters through which to observe larger sets of data. For instance, a company that wanted to determine the diversity of its workforce would want to look at a set of qualitative data like race and ethnicity of its employees as well as the quantitative data of the frequency of employees to belong to those races and ethnicities."

For gathering qualitative data, it's good to address the 5Ws- who, what, where, when and why-so you can frame your surveys or questions correctly when interviewing customers as part of the persona process. Ask yourself:

  • Who is the customer?
  • What does the customer do with our product/service?
  • Where does the customer interact with our product/service?
  • When does the customer interact with our product/service?
  • Why does the customer interact with our product/service?

In the end, the most impactful personas are developed through the skillful mix of art and science, or the alchemy of blending narrative with numbers to paint a clear picture.

What Does a Persona Look Like?

The details of any given persona vary greatly. Human beings are complex both as individuals and as associated groups. Essentially, you need to take your data and develop a detailed narrative for each identified persona.

A persona is a semi-fictional customer archetype that details customer demographics, goals, pain points and proclivities. Your set of personas will become your team's roadmap for knowing the best way and time to attract their interest.

For a great example of a fully developed persona, check out a persona example offered by Inbound Marketing giant HubSpot.

Personas work best told as narratives or semi-fictional stories, but there are certainly essentials that must be included:

  • Demographics (qualitative data)
  • Goals
  • Pain Points
  • Personal preferences
  • Research process
  • Day-in-the-life narrative
  • Common sales objections

Why Personas Matter

Effective persona development and their ongoing management is foundational to a successful Inbound Marketing strategy. By investing in your customer personas, you have successfully built a strong foundation from which your business can operate its business development, product/service development and integrated marketing communications.

Humanizing your customers helps your business to communicate in a fully engaged manner that is meaningful for both your customer and your business. Customers who feel aligned with your product/service and brand values will engage at a higher rate with your brand and remain brand loyal.

When executed for your business, personas will strengthen your bottom line and lead you to newfound growth.

Illumine8 Marketing & PR can help you develop personas or improve upon existing customer profiles. Reach out to us, we’d love to learn more about how your audience interacts with your business.

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