How to create the perfect persona?

Personas, synonymously called buyer personas, marketing personas, or customer personas, are one of the most effective tools to achieve customer-centricity.
Today customers expect offers that are tailormade for their demands and needs, marketing personas give you the tools to do so.

If you do offer targeted offers to your customers, they show their appreciation:
The ROI of personas is impressive, but only when the personas are done right.
So one of the most asked questions is, how do you create personas?

Sometimes a picture says more than a thousand words. In the following article, we use excerpts of a persona we created and anonymized organizations and products. To give you some context we are using a persona from Sweden as an example whose travel plans were affected by Covid-19. She is trying to find alternative travel destinations within Sweden.

Data Collection

Persona creation lives on the data you have on your existing customers. If you think about shortcutting the data collection or even go without data, you might end up with something that looks like a persona but will probably not help you in your marketing and sales efforts.

Demographic data

Most of the time, demographic data is the easiest to come by. You should collect data about

  • Age
  • Location
  • Language
  • Income
  • Interests
  • Stage of life

Possible sources for this data can be Facebook Audience Insights, Google Analytics, and of course your internal data stored in CRM systems.
The more information you are able to collect from your clients the easier it will be to create personas. That does not only apply to the demographic section but also helps you to get a better understanding of the other data points that make up a persona in the end.

If you are creating personas for B2B offerings, you might want to include the stage of the company, size, revenue, and seniority, job title, departments of employees, etc.

While demographic data can be pulled out of one or more databases easily, qualitative data is a whole new ball game and might be hard to get your hands on.

Needs of a persona

What we call “Needs” at Mnemonic AI can be diverged into two things that make your customer tick:

  1. Pain Points
  2. Goals to achieve

While pain points have a slightly negative connotation, it is the problem customers want to be solved, ideally with your offering. Goals are the positive opposite, what do your customers want to achieve.
Both, pain points and goals might be directly related to your products and services, a match made in heaven. You just need to tell your customers that you are the right organization, with the right offering.
But it doesn’t have to be, the Needs section is used to get to know your customer and understand what drives him.

Data for this kind of information can be found through social listening, surveys, reviews, etc.
The hard part is in analyzing the gathered data. You want to establish a way that all the data gets reviewed and analyzed in the same way, trying to avoid bias through different reviewers, different scales used.

To make it easier to understand here is the needs section of our example persona:
Persona Example Needs

To emphasize the difference that triggers a persona’s needs think about the following situation. Summing up, our sample persona is looking for a memorable holiday destination within Sweden beyond the regular offers. However, she has two kids and therefore the need has to be fulfilled in a “kids friendly” way. Compare her situation with one of a well-situated couple mid-30s with a massive follower base on Instagram. They usually travel the World and post pictures from magnificent places or extraordinary activities like Cage Diving at the Great Barrier Reef. Both parties have the same desire and need for an extravagant holiday destination but with 2 completely different drivers.

Go-to

If you have dug deep in your data, analyzed demographics, and tons of quantitative data, you should have a clear understanding, what drives your customers.
Now to the first step of turning this information into an actionable asset for you, we call it Go-To.

This section will help you to understand how to approach the persona. It provides a clear guideline of what is important for the persona and how her needs should be addressed.
It forces you to start thinking not about hard attributes of your offerings, but how it is helpful to the customer in their specific situation.

In our example:
Persona Example Go-To

Both parties need information about different attractions and destinations, however, price and the fact that she has two kids play a crucial role in the decision-making process which does not apply to the couple. For instance, Wildwater rafting in Sweden might be the perfect fit for the couple but not for a family with an 8-year-old son. Another example is 600 Euro per night at a high-end Tree House Hotel. It might be the perfect fit in order to create content for the Instagram Community, but not for Silvia because it is way above their accommodation budget.
Without going into too much detail the messaging for the same need for the 2 completely different personas could be

For Silvia: Show your family a side of Sweden they have never seen before! Find Kids and budget-friendly destinations here.

For the couple: Stuck at home? Looking for the Extraordinary within your county? Check out our boutique luxury resort in Sweden’s Wilderness.

Interests

Keep in mind, even though personas are not real individuals, they represent them. Not a single human exists in a vacuum. Whatever you do in a business context reflects you as a person, which includes your private life and experiences you made.

Hence, we at Mnemonic AI believe that it is important not to stop here, but dig deeper and gather information about your customers that put their decisions into context. We call this section Interests.

Persona Example Interests

This section will help you to adjust the message as well as the targeting for the persona. Sources for gathering the information could be Social Media, review pages, or surveys. If there is a way to bind your product/service to one of the interests it will allow you to emotionally address your prospect. Additionally, the interests will help you to narrow down your target audience on various platforms. Using the demographics combined with the interests will allow you to minimize the scatter loss and test the different personas accordingly.

Emotions

We wrote a whole article about the benefits of emotions in marketing. The main argument in favor of the Interest section is also true for emotions: You want to have as much context as possible for your personas.
Persona Example EmotionsIf you understand what they fear or love about your product/service you can tailor the message accordingly. Emphasize the attributes that they love and explain why their fear is unfounded. Especially in a competitive environment understanding the emotions will give you the opportunity to differentiate yourself from your competitors. You can highlight the attributes that are well perceived and the competition does not have or use the anger the prospects have towards your competitor’s product/service to your advantage.

Representativeness

Ok, we are data guys, we love numbers. But you also want to check your numbers. Mnemonic outputs a Representativeness scale.
Understanding of how representative the persona is to the entire customer base will help you to better allocate your resources. The bigger the percentage is the more emphasis you should put on that particular persona.

Picture Perfect

So you want to talk to your personas with a marketing voice that is tailored to their expectations, you know their needs, and what to emphasize in your message?
For us humans, faces are important, they get someone out of anonymity, gives us someone to talk to, or even to visualize while composing an email.

We often see persona examples that use the same stock photo over and over or even go with comic book characters or just an outline.
The goal of a persona is obviously to describe customers in the most detailed, realistic way so everyone in the company can say “I know that guy!”. With the help of personas, clients become tangible rather than just a transaction number. When you put an Avatar or just an outline of a person as the profile image this imagination already becomes harder. Compare the two below – who is easier to describe? I think the answer is clear, right?

Persona Example Pictures

Imagine the persona profiles are pinned on the wall and the marketing team walks in the office every morning and their job is to convince these customers of the company’s products or services. They need to see and feel the client in order to do so properly. Therefore it is important to have a realistic picture that represents the persona accordingly. In an ideal situation, you should collect all information about the persona components, and once completed you should look for a picture that you think fits the description.

To choose a picture you have different options. Look at stock images of people that you believe could represent your customer. Try to be as neutral as possible doing that. You might fall into the trap of personal preferences etc. which is still the biggest problem with manually created personas. Try to avoid that.

Again at Mnemonic, we go a slightly different path. We use generative adversarial networks (GAN) to create our image pool and let the AI select the most appropriate one itself, avoiding human influence. You can find a short write up about the image generation process on our blogpost about GAN.

The Bio

Imagine you are sitting in a room with 10 strangers and they are there to help you with a certain problem. Your task is now to basically describe yourself and the reason you are there in a few sentences in order for them to get a first impression and idea of your problem. The result is the Persona Story.

Obviously, you first need to have a clear understanding of the persona with all the different characteristics in order to write the story. It is basically a summary of the detailed analysis and should be the last step in the persona creation process.

Once the persona profile is completed it should be the first thing marketers read in order to give them a brief impression of the personality and characteristics as well as the problem that needs to be solved.

Do not make the mistake of trying to lead the persona creation process with a story. You might run the risk to include personal preferences and assumptions and lose your objectivity which is crucial to create adequate personas.

The final persona

So you have spent hours number crunching, sifted through thousands of emails, surveys, and interviews. Collected social data, cursed at Google Analytics, and selected the most fitting pictures out of a stock photo database. Time for the roll-up. Put all your findings together in a document that can be distributed to your marketing and sales teams, it is time that the fun part starts and you can begin reaping the benefits of personas for your work.
It is crucial that everyone who works in a marketing team has the same vision of your personas, talks with the same voice, and addresses the customer in a congruent way.

For example, with Mnemonic AI you can choose to get the personas as PDFs you can print and decorate your office with or get it in JSON to integrate into your own tools. Irrespective of how you do it, spreading the word about your personas inside your organization is most important.

If you want to see what our current personas look like, click on the below to see a full PDF version of Silvia our travel persona in times of Covid-19.

Download Example Persona

Download our sample persona used in the text as an example.

Start Your Persona Creation!

If you want to start using personas yourself but do not have the time or resources to start that endeavor, Mnemonic automates the complete persona creation process, from data gathering, analyzing and writing up the whole persona (of course including the pictures) with deep learning (what is keyed artificial intelligence most of the time).


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