Well here we are — it’s been quite the journey, hasn’t it? You’ve done the work: you got to know yourself and your customers better, and now you’re ready to take the plunge and create personas that will shape interactions with your customers for the foreseeable future. So let’s get down to it.
As we get started, keep in mind that your personas will likely be broken out into a few groups. Look at your most strategic and profitable products. Are the audiences the same? If not, treat each market separately. If you’re selling something with a high price point or a complex buying process, are there many people who need to weigh in on that purchase? If so, you’ll want to treat each person in that process with the same care that you do the one writing the check (or pushing “send” on the transfer), because understanding their roles can be critical to your success.
There are three ways you can consolidate and express your persona information, which I’ll discuss below. To be fully prepared, you’ll want to execute on two out of these three methods. Of course, if you’re an overachiever, there’s no harm in doing all three.
The Narrative Persona
A narrative persona breaks out each buyer and the associated stakeholders into a story-driven format. It becomes a longer form description that helps people understand the person as a whole. This format is an excellent way to take a deep dive into your customer’s psyche and/or if you only have one buyer in your buying process.
When fleshing out the portrait of a customer (like Overachieving Annie here), you should ask yourself the following questions — and document the answers in a way that tells a story:
Get creative! The more detail you put into your narrative personas, the more “real” this segment of your customer base will be, leading to finely-tuned messaging and laser-focused decision making. Give your segments names, associate images with them, and do anything else you feel is necessary to breathe life into them as real people. The documentation surrounding your narrative personas should include words and pictures; one of my favorite methods is to make slides that contain some of the above questions (and their answers) as well as mood or image boards, to help capture the look and feel of the persona in as complete a way as possible.
The Persona Grid
The persona grid is imperative if you have a complex buying process. A single persona grid can help you flesh out the role of each individual that impacts the buying process — especially useful for B2B markets. In the B2B space, it’s not unusual to have a researcher, a decision maker, and a leadership stakeholder and/or a check-writer — sometimes in addition to your primary contact, who may or may not be the end user. By understanding each of these people, you can better create content for each of them to help overcome obstacles. You can also help craft a customer journey knowing each of these people is impacted by pressures outside of themselves. Persona grids look a little like this:
This approach is also a winner because it fits on one page and can be tacked up in a space for your marketers and writers to use as a reference!
The Persona Profile
These profiles combine certain aspects of the narrative (visual, story-driven) with the grid (concise, printable) to create something that’s also suitable to hang up in a workspace. I’ve seen this done at companies to remind everyone at every level of the company who the customer is and why the company’s efforts are important. It’s a pretty fun idea. And although this isn’t a method I usually implement for my clients, it can be extremely useful. Persona profiles typically include:
I'm a veteran digital marketer whose career has grown up with the Internet.