When I first read about the concept of creating a persona, it was targeted toward creating a design persona. I thought it was an interesting idea, but ultimately not that useful for me. Then I had to create a design persona as a part of a project to fix a process. Once I started doing research, I was utterly surprised by the responses I got from users. I thought I knew my users and what they thought and wanted. Turns out, the form (and by extension, the process) that I thought was so terrible, they thought was fine. They didn’t have nearly as many problems or grievances with the process as I did, or as I thought they would.
That experience really drove the importance of personas home for me. You might think you know what your customers are thinking and experiencing, you might think you’re giving them just what they want, but what you think a customer wants and what a customer actually wants are often two very different things.
Creating a great buyer persona can take a lot of time and research. You need to figure out who your target market is, find out their job responsibilities, their goals, and the challenges they face. Collecting these facts and laying them out to be measured against is a great way to get a small glimpse into your what your customers are really looking for. It also gives you a great way to measure your content and see if it really is meeting the needs of your customers.
But bullet points of facts and figures do not a persona make. A persona is a representation of a person, a living, breathing person, with thoughts and feelings. A person with a history and hobbies outside of their job. While facts and figures are important and give you metrics to measure against, a persona doesn’t really come alive until you give it some personality.
When I create a buyer persona now, I always give them narrative about their life. I give them a little back story, and I explain how they got to their current position in life. Then I try to sum up the goal and challenges they face in their job and give them a little more context. I always give my personas a life outside of the job – family, hobbies, and interests – to give them more depth and add a vein of reality to my otherwise fake person.
I find that giving my personas a narrative makes them more real for me. It helps me really envision my end users and what they really want. It is always easier to create content, whether blogs, ebooks, ads, or infographics, when I have a specific person in mind to target. I can think about what they would like and what would speak to them , rather than just a nebulous idea of what I think would be appealing to that group.
It might take a little longer and require a little more effort and creativity, but when the end result is better content and better results, why wouldn’t you give it a try?