Your ideal customer is the person who finds your product perfect in every way. To them, your product has the right features, price, comes at the right time and meets all their expectations. That ideal customer is what we call your Marketing Persona, or Persona for short.
Knowing your ideal customer will help you empathize with them as a person. You can put yourself in their shoes, understand what they love, hate, fear and expect of life. You can use that knowledge to create content they like. You’ll know how to communicate with them in ways they enjoy. You may even influence their perspective. In the end, you’ll be able to connect with them on a deeper level, making it more likely they’ll become loyal customers. In fact, a recent study found that 8 out of 10 US consumers are loyal to brands that “understand and care about” them.
On the other end, not knowing your persona can make it that much harder to connect with customers. Sure, you can try a bunch of different strategies and see what sticks. But it will cost you a lot of resources before you get the answers you need. Most importantly, you may deter customers even more. A survey found that 34% of US Consumers had “broken up with a brand due to receiving poor, disruptive or irrelevant marketing messages.” It’s a high risk to take when you can simply find your Persona instead. Here’s how.
Step 1: Count your personas
You should have as many personas as you have product variations, even if some details overlap. For instance, a Tesla 3 and a Tesla X have different personas attached to them. The Tesla 3 persona will be more sensitive to price. The Tesla X persona may focus more on safety or design. Yet both Personas will share a desire for a future without carbon emissions.
A persona isn’t always a buyer. If you sell toys for example, your marketing persona is likely to be a child, while the buyer is their parents. In this case, you want to create two personas: one for the buyer and one for the user.
You can also have different personas based on timing or context. If you sell greeting cards, your personas will change depending on seasons. Around Valentine’s Day, it will be someone in a relationship. But around Christmas, it may be someone who’s single and lives far from their family, like an expat.
Step 2: Define your personas
Once you have a list of personas you need to create, it’s time to define them using data and statistics. You should never create personas based on your “instinct” or “feel” of the market. Chances are you’re wrong and you’ll steer your whole strategy towards a dead end.
If you already have a product with customers on the market, this is the best place to start. Make a list of all your customers and all the details you have about them. Then try to find patterns in the data. Are they all men? Women? Around the same age? Do they hold a similar position in their company? Do they work in tech? Do they make the same amount of money? You get the idea.
If you’re not selling anything yet, look for information about your competitors’ customers. (And if you haven’t done competitors research yet, you should start there.) Visit your competitors’ online presence. Analyze their marketing tactics to identify how they define their own personas. For instance, a competitor sharing content on TikTok is likely to target teenagers. Yes, your personas may be different from your competitors. But since they’re your competitors, they’re likely targeting someone close to your personas. So it’s a good place to start.
Do content research on the web to go even further. Visit social media groups where people talk about similar products or buying motivations. So if you’ve identified from your research that your persona likely cares about carbon emissions, look for social groups about climate change. Try to find patterns in the type of people you see interacting in those groups.
Once you have a better idea of who your general personas are, dive deeper using market research. For example, if you’ve identified that a Tesla 3 buyer is more likely to be a man around 35 years-old living in a city, find research about this target using terms like “35 yo man purchase behavior stats” or “urban millennials car buying stats”. Look for surveys, research papers and other publications. Research firms like Gartner or Forrester Research also provide tons of resources about consumer behavior.
At the end of this process, each of your personas should have a list of characteristics you’ve identified from your search. But this is all static data. What you need the most to define your Persona is dynamic data. You want to know not just who they are, but most importantly what they are trying to do right now. We call this the Jobs to be Done model. JTBD “is the process a consumer goes through whenever she aims to change her existing life-situation into a preferred one, but cannot because there are constraints that stop her.” In this model, you don’t focus on the persona’s demographic and behavioral factors. Instead, you identify the context, motivation and obstacle that together would create a need for your product. For instance, let’s say you sell a Project Management tool. Your JTBD could be:
- Context: A company reaches 5 employees
- Motivation: Now the CEO wants to scale to 10 employees
- Obstacle: but she is getting overwhelmed due to not having the proper tools
This CEO has a job to be done but can’t without your product. This would be true no matter their age, gender, income, personality traits or preferences. So according to the JTBD model, this CEO is your Persona.
Step 3: Organize your data
Once you have all your Personas and their characteristics, it’s time to organize all the data. Create a slide deck and add one Persona per slide.
Adding photos of people who look like your Persona on each slide can help convey the message. So if your Persona is a 35-year-old man, add a picture of a 35-year-old man on the slide. Add a slide at the end of your presentation with all the sources you used to create your personas. That includes links to blog articles, research papers, social media groups and others. This will be useful in case you want to dive deeper into specific characteristics later on.
Step 4: Confirm your personas (optional)
Doing online research to find your Personas is a great start, but you could still be off-target. Data taken from online research will still not apply exactly to your use case. If it does, then your product isn’t differentiated enough and you have a bigger problem. So once you have identified your Personas through online research, test them.
The most straightforward way to test Personas is through qualitative user studies. We have another article explaining in detail how to conduct them. User studies can be expensive, and you may not be ready for them yet. If that’s the case, then you’ll have to build a marketing strategy based on your untested personas for now. Still remember to test your Personas later on once you unlock more budget. The data you’ll get from a user study will have a significant impact on revenue, especially as you scale.
Step 5: Present your personas
Share your Persona deck with your team during a meeting. Then keep the presentation somewhere visible so that your team can refer to it often. If you have an office, print the slides and then put them on the wall. It will help you remember who you are selling your product to. That awareness will keep your empathy high during important decisions.
Building personas can be time-consuming and the results can sometimes be underwhelming. You take the risk of injecting your own biases into your research, especially if you don’t include a user study. As a result, you’re more likely to miss precious information that could have a major impact on your strategy. That’s why we recommend outsourcing your Persona research to a Gravitr specialist. You’ll get a professional analyst to do the work on your behalf and stay neutral. Meanwhile you can focus on the other parts of your business where you excel. If that seems like the right fit for you, check out our pricing for Persona research and create an account for free.