Getting to Know Your Customers: Audience Personas

We’ve entered the age of the customer. This you know, but how much do you really know about your customers? Now they have the world at their fingertips, there is an urgent need to understand your audience. In order to reach them and meet their needs, you need to have a clear picture of who they are, what their pain points are, what they need to alleviate those concerns, and how they want to interact with you.

The best way to really dig deep and understand your customers is to create audience personas. These personas are fictional, generalized characters that encompass the various needs, goals, and observed behavior patterns of your real and potential customers. They identify commonly held goals and shared values.

Essentially, a persona is a detailed description of your ideal customer. It will allow you to:

  1. Tailor messages and content to your audience needs and wants.
  2. Help customer service be more empathetic.
  3. Create great products that appeal to your customers.
  4. Create consistency across company communications and grow your brand in a way your customers expect.

Creating Audience Personas

Begin by compiling everything you know about your customers. Be careful not to create personas based on assumptions; if your assumptions are wrong, then your persona will be ineffective. The best way to discover the accurate information you need is by turning big data into business insights. Mining these insights will determine buyer traits and behaviors that drive persona creation.

The data you use should ideally come from several sources. Analyze your existing research, and then use internal and third-party information to collect any additional information you need to round out your personas. Check your website and social media analytics, conduct customer interviews, reference past survey results, and pull data from sales calls.

Once you have your insights, craft your audience personas by answering these questions:

  1. Location – Where does this person live? Urban, suburban or rural?
  2. Age – What is the age range of this person?
  3. Gender – Is your ideal customer a man or a woman?
  4. Education level – How much education do they have?
  5. Income level – How much do they make, and how much do they have to spend on your product or service?
  6. Family – Are they married? Do they have kids?
  7. Job title – What do they do to earn their money?
  8. What are their biggest challenges at work?
  9. What are their career goals?
  10. Interests – What are they interested in?
  11. How do they spend their day? At work? At leisure?
  12. Buying motivation – What does your product do for them?
  13. Buying concerns – What are their concerns when buying your product?
  14. What are their biggest fears?
  15. What are their common objections?
  16. How can you help solve their challenges?
  17. How do they prefer to communicate? With others? With you? (Social media, newspapers, email, etc.)
  18. How do they like to consume information? (Magazines, TV, internet, social, etc.)
  19. How tech savvy are they?
  20. Where do they spend their time online? Favorite websites and social networks?

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Humanize your audience personas

Once these questions are complete, make your persona come alive. Do this by giving each persona you’ve created a name and a photo.

We also recommend sharing your completed audience personas with your team members and with the sales and customer service as well. It can be very useful to get a second or third opinion, particularly from the people who interact with your existing customers, to determine if your persona is on track.

Once your persona is complete, be sure to document and share this information with every other team in your organization. In everything you do, you need to ask, “Would this resonate with our persona?”

Valuable bonus add-on

If possible, we suggest you include real quotes from interviews with consumers. These will give more life to your personas and make sure they are aligning with what customers actually think.

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Pets Are Part of the Persona

For companies like yours that make products for and supply services to animals, the pet is an important part of the persona. Ultimately, the pet owner will be making the decision about what to buy, but the pet they own — cat or dog, the breed and health of their pet, their specific relationship with their pet — will greatly influence that decision. Remember, you’re creating your ideal customer. Your communications and marketing will spill over to other pet owners, but choose the persona you feel will bring you the best focus and most success.

Putting your personas into action

Now that you have a clear view of your customers, it is time to take the next step by categorizing your completed personas and integrating them into your marketing plans. Do this by mapping personas to the buying process for more strategic content creation. Your personas provide a snapshot of who your buyers are and where they are in their buyer’s journey.

Take advantage of all of your data, and put your completed personas to work to help you develop your business strategies and marketing tactics for each product.