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What are User Personas and how do they help marketing?

Posted in: Uncategorized ♦ Saturday, November 12th, 2011, 9:04 am ♦ No Comments
What are User Personas and how do they help marketing?

What are “user personas,” how do you make them, and how do they help your brand? User personas help marketers (and web developers and anyone else who’s trying to understand their audience) think about their offerings in real life situations.

Organizations are often stuck thinking about their offerings from their “production” perspective. User personas allow you to take a look at your offerings from the eyes of your customers.

User personals are made-up identities, based on composites of actual customers.

How to build a user persona

To create user personas, first you have to do research. Telephone interviews, focus groups, web surveys… any way you can get your customers’ thoughts, fears, goals, and judgments, get them!

Building a user persona means taking the insights you got from your research and coming up with “types” of people in our audience. Instead of thinking about the audience segments as impersonal data, with the user personas, you get creative and bring them to life.

Your user personas are imagined composites. But they are fleshed-out people. They represent a typical customer… what they look like, what their job is, what technologies they use, how they communicate. You make up the user persona’s names. You select for them a typical jobs, a typical family situation, a typical incomes, and most importantly their typical goals.

Address big questions: the goals of your audience

Then ask yourself—and answer—the bigger questions. What are these people trying to do, ultimately, with your products or services? What bigger issues or dreams are they fulfilling with your offerings? Imagine the person’s whole life perspective–then write it all down.

Look at your interviews and pull out choice quotes. This puts actual words in the mouths of your user personas. Be sure to base everything on actual insights from your interviews. You want to document the things a real person in your audience would actually be thinking and feeling.

Sure, the user personas are made up—you made up the names, found a picture that looks like you imagine them to look like—but the goals and thoughts of your personas are based on real responses to your research.

User personas give you a reality check

What do you do with a user persona? You use it to plan your products, services, and messages. As you work on developing a new project, think about your user personas. This gives you a clear framework for understanding the motivations and issues and “whole life experiences” that go into your audience’s buying decisions.

Is what you’re proposing going to meet your user personas’ bigger goals? Is there anything about your plans that will taste sour to them?

Once you know your personas, they really help with making decisions about that features to include, or not include, in your products and how to craft the marketing messages.

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