Personas 101 – A Quick Guide to developing marketing personas

Most marketing experts will tell you that in order to be able to optimize your inbound channels for your target audience, you should dedicate sufficient time and resources to creating personas. A persona, in its simplest form, is a fictitious character that embodies a segment of your target audience. The main premise is that by developing very specific characters, you empower your marketing team to be more strategic in terms of catering to each demographic. As you go through the process of establishing your personas, it’s best to go through a set of questions (such as “how old is he/she?”, “what is his/her job?”, “what is his/her biggest pain point?”, etc.), the answers to which will crystallize your characters. Ultimately, by answering those questions for each persona, you know much more about your target audience’s preferences, behaviors, and attitude, which enables you to target them more strategically.

Let’s look at the questions that you as a marketer would like to get answered as a result of your persona development, as well as the questions that you can ask during the discussion.

  • How can you best reach them? In order to communicate effectively with your audience, you want to know where they hang out (in person or online) and what media they prefer. Questions may include:
    • How much time do they typically spend on the web?
    • When looking for advice, where do they go?
    • How big is their social and professional network?
    • What are their preferred social media channels?
    • How do they manage their inbox?
    • What devices do they primarily use when interacting on the web?
    • Do they prefer written or verbal communication?
  • How can you attract and keep their interest? Once you know where to find your target audience, you want to identify how you can pique their interest, drive them to your content, and keep them engaged. Questions may include:
    • What sites do they visit most frequently and why?
    • How much interaction and engagement are they seeking?
    • What type of content is most important to them?
    • How much time do they have to interact with you and/or your content?
  • How can you help them? Remember our golden rule: Always Provide Value. Therefore, it’s crucial that you determine how to best serve your audience. Questions may include:
    • What problems are they trying to solve?
    • What are their biggest pain points?
    • What do they want to get out of interacting with you and/or your content?
    • What’s their level of expertise in their industry and in your industry?
  • How do they make purchase decisions? It goes without saying that ultimately, you want to convert your visitors into leads and your leads into sales. After all, you’re running a business. As a result, you will want to know as much as possible about your personas’ decision making processes, so that you can nurture them appropriately along the way. Questions may include:
    • What are the driving factors when it comes to purchasing decisions?
    • What is their role in the decision making process?
    • How quickly do they make decisions?
    • How much research do they do before making a decision or recommendation?
    • If they are not the decision makers, what types of deliverables do they need to bring to the decision maker?

As you can see, just by answering this short list of questions, you can quickly establish several marketing personas for your business and optimize your strategy to target them in a more effective manner. What are some other questions that you would want to consider as you are developing your marketing personas?

Kat is the CEO of Spectate. Her goal is to empower users to create and manage their web content and to provide them with the tools to become even better content marketers. Connect with Kat on Google+!

Twitter Google+ 

Tags: , ,

2 Comments

Leave a comment
  1. Taylor Schaeffer @ Get Smart Content March 29, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

    Hi there Kat,

    Great initial list of questions to start asking when defining your marketing personas. Another question that I’d recommend asking is “Who is currently visiting my site? Who am I failing to connect with?” In order to help marketers define this, we’ve created a free tool that you can use to look at this – Audience Opportunity Tool (http://opportunity.getsmartcontent.com)

    Let me know if you’d like to talk more about this,
    Taylor Schaeffer
    Get Smart Content
    Content Personalization

  2. The Plums April 5, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

    We enjoyed reading your blog post on personas. We also have similar techniques if you’re interested! http://plum11.com/2012/04/03/multiple-personalities-dont-have-to-be-a-disorder/

Leave a Reply