One of the best kept secrets that only a few small businesses know about is a brilliant little device called a persona creator. And what is a persona creator you may ask?
Before I answer that let me tell you a bit more about understanding your customers and introduce the first great way to get personal with your clients.
It’s called segmentation.
Let’s say you’re providing graphic design services to freelancers and small companies.
Because your services can be accessed online, you don’t need to be in the same geographical location. But it does help to be able to meet clients personally because that seems to be the way you get more business. They know, like and trust you.
So now you have identified two market segments that you are interested in. Local (within driving distance) and remote (connected online).
And things can segment even more: Maybe they’re in the Food and Beverage industry. Are they in the restaurant business or doing online food deliveries?
As you identify which segment and sub-segment you want to focus on, it can become very confusing, and you end up with vague stereotypes of flash restauranteurs and bearded mung bean foodies delivering green stuff on eco-friendly skateboards. And actually, you may not be able to sell to everyone on the planet who wants graphic design work.
Creating your customer persona
This is where the second great way to get up close and personal comes in.
It’s called the persona creator. What it does is helps you create a solid image of a real living person in your target segment who has what every real living person has – a name, a face, a set of circumstances, frustrations, desires and a personality.
A persona creator uses research to build a picture of your ideal client.
Here are 5 things to remember about this incredibly powerful tool.
#1 The more data behind the information you put into the persona creator, the more accurate it will be.
Customer personas are kinda like avatars representing real, living and breathing people who will engage with your services.
While people featured on a persona are technically hypothetical, the information on the document should not be hypothetical. All the sections must be completed based on facts, hard data, and research.
#2 Talking to people who best epitomise your clients before completing this template is really important. It’s your reality check.
Send emails, hop on calls, run surveys and questionnaires.
#3 Record and synthesize the information you have gathered ad look for the common threads.
#4 Add your best views about what you’ve learned to our online persona creator document.
#5 Yes, this will take effort; it will take digging.
But this hard work is necessary because when Customer Personas are authentically completed, they become your go-to documents to ensure every business, design and marketing decision resonates with target customers.
Elements of the Client Persona
“The Manager” is too general. Is she a senior manager? Does he have a passion project? Before settling on a title, think about the message it sends audiences and the information it conveys.
Give your persona a face that reflects the descriptions used throughout the template. Try to use a photo of a real consumer, not a cheesy, easily identifiable stock image. Show the person a space that shows where your product fits into his/her life. Like a picture of a Life Coach in his office talking to someone.
What’s their job title? How long have they worked in the company? What level of management are they? Are they knowledgeable about their job? Are they an expert in the field or just “minding the farm”?
What can you find out about their career path? When did they go into their own business? What professional or educational qualifications do they have? Have they won any awards in their field?
Can you describe their Business style. Use the famous Social Styles Inventory to help you here . It’s been around forever and is so powerful for assessing people’s preferences. Head over here and try it on yourself. Then decide where your clients are most likely to fit in the matrix.
You’ll also be able to pick their communication preferences, from the SSI. I’ve been using it for over 30 years, and it’s never let me down.
Then you can put yourself in their shoes and write a brief self-description. Then you want to work out their thinking and decision-making preferences.
Do they think deeply before making decisions, do a lot of research, look at alternatives before deciding? ? These people look at the features of your services first, and only after that will they look at the benefits.
Or do they make decisions quickly, using gut instinct and a small amount of research, trusting their experience to get it right? These people look at the benefits of using you and your services, and will glance at the features to find the one or two they are particularly interested in, mainly to reinforce the decision they have already made.
And by the way, this is not a gender thing. Men and women naturally fall into either category.
The tiers section is one of the most important sections when it comes to defining a Persona. They show levels of engagement users have with your product, or where they fall on the adoption curve. For example, the “tier” option can range from ‘first-time users’ all the way to ‘late adopters.’
Tiers can also refer to users’ level of commitment to your product—free users, paid users, or enterprise users. I recommend making different personas to represent each varying tier to segment your users by where they are on the journey.
Are you right at the start of the customer journey, so you are focusing on awareness? Or at the other end of the funnel and aiming for conversions?
7. Personality Traits
Who is your user? Indicate her KEY personality traits and help round out her overall image. The most useful personality traits are the ones that describe how they make decisions. Whether they are introvert or extrovert is less useful.
And here are two critical parts of the persona:
- Do they take time to consider situations or act quickly based on instinct?
- Will they trust you quickly or will it take multiple contacts and time to build up that trust?
Describe the Persona in a few words based on their personality, work ethic, motivations, and priorities. Are they an energetic, outgoing self-starter? Or are they a driven but disorganized introvert?
What is your persona looking for? A complete service that achieves a specific goal? These questions are critical to shaping your service offering development.
Most Persona goals should be end goals, goals about what the Persona ultimately achieves in using your product or service. This could be something tangible: a beautiful advertisement, a sleek web page or an intangible goal like increased confidence
9. Challenges and Frustrations
What challenges are preventing your persona from achieving his or her goals? What concerns does she have? What are his frustrations with current solutions already available? This section is key when it comes to honing the features and services of your service.
10. What can we do?
How can you help them to overcome their challenges and meet their goals? Be specific and honest about whether you have what they need now, or have to modify.
If you focus on what inspires your persona to take action you can craft your messages to trigger the behaviour you want.
Is he motivated more by fear or growth? Achievement or power? Show how what you can do understands their motivators.
Capture the Persona’s attitude towards your product or service. Why is he or she interested in what you’re offering? What type of solutions is the Persona looking for? What matters most to him?
Use real quotes or comments from your customer interviews, surveys or questionnaires.
12. Common Objections, Marketing Message, Elevator Pitch
Why wouldn’t they buy your products/services?
How should you describe your products and services to them to inspire them to try and buy? These days people are less turned on by fab benefits. They want to actually what your services can realistically do for them.
What short message/pitch from you about your products and services would they want to hear that would interest them in finding out more?
What is Empathy Mapping?
So that’s the customer persona created. Now you have a really good and fairly accurate idea of who you want to address all your marketing messages to. But to go even one step further, we can climb into their heads by creating an empathy map. Which is the third great way to get up close and personal with your clients.
Now you might think this is a bit woo-woo, but believe me it is really powerful. Once again research helps here.
Imagine you are sitting in the head of your ideal client. And answer these questions:
- Who am I empathising with?
- What do I need to do about my frustrations?
- What do I hear?
- What do I think and feel?
- What do I see?
- What do I say?
- What do I do?
So now you have such an amazing picture built up around your ideal client that you’ll be able to talk very powerfully to her or him.
And you’ll be in the top 1% of your service profession because no-one else will have put in the same amount of work as you have to segment the market, create client personas of amazing accuracy and know how they think, feel and act. So good on ya.