Personas are a powerful tool that we use with many of our clients. I often get questions about what personas are and why you would use them so I thought sharing an overview might be helpful. To get started, here’s a definition I like to use. At its simplest form….
A persona is a fictional representation of a group of people that share common characteristics – such as behaviors, attitudes, motivations, challenges, and values.
Working with our clients to create meaningful personas is one of my favorite types of work because I am fascinated by people – their stories, their successes, their challenges – and creating personas is a way to deeply get to know consumers. Understanding the demographics of your customers will tell you WHAT they are (ie. male/female, aged 35), but personas based on psychographics and behaviors tell you WHO they are – and what matters to them most. Through our persona work we uncover what drives customers, their goals, the challenges they face, their emotions, their motivations, and how they feel about a product or service category.
By helping our clients know their customers in a new and deeper way, personas serve as a powerful tool that informs their strategies and ultimately helps them engage customers in a more meaningful way.
We have helped our clients use personas to….
- Develop engaging messaging
- Design new products and services
- Inform brand platform and strategy
- Create better experiences
- Help sales teams have more successful conversations with new and existing customers
- And more…
“We are really on a mission to understand outdoor-interested homeowners in a way that we never understood them before and deliver more for them. All of the research helped us create a new brand platform that is not just about having the best plants or better plants, which is what we are known for. Instead it is about something else: It is about helping the consumer achieve their dreams and goals.”
- Katie Tamony, CMO Monrovia
How do you create personas?
Creating meaningful personas requires getting close to a large number of customers to gain a deep understanding of who they are. We start by using a qualitative approach that often includes multiple methodologies that allow us to fully immerse ourselves in the lives of the customers.
We start with in-depth qualitative research that can include in-person interviews/observations, video/phone interviews and/or digital methodologies. We include an in-person or digital component because it allows us to observe the customers in their environment. The digital tool allows us to observe over a longer period and expands our geographic reach. Either in-person or digitally, we are with them in their homes, workplaces, where they shop, hang out, go out to eat – wherever they spend time in their day-to-day lives. The output of the qualitative research is a deep understanding of attitudes, emotions, behaviors, goals, motivators, cultural and social influences, etc.
Often, we stop there and begin the analysis because the qualitative insights are robust and additional research isn’t required. However, sometimes clients want the rigor of quantitative research to further hone the clustering as well as size the personas which is helpful in determining which set of customers to prioritize and where to focus efforts.
The output of the research is analyzed for both similarities and differences across customers. Individuals are grouped into clusters based on psychographic and behavioral similarities. These clusters of similar customers form the personas. We look at the persona clusters to understand each one deeply and define what makes each persona unique. We then name and tell the story of each persona to help bring them to life.
One of my favorite things is to see personas being used in our client teams. In meetings, teams will bring up personas as strategies are being developed. Someone might say – ‘We need to consider how our Zen Gardeners might feel about this’ or ‘this feature would really speak to our Explorers and their needs’. I love seeing how organizations keep the personas alive. To learn more about how to immerse teams in personas and make them more actionable check out my other blog post, We have personas… now what? Bring your personas to life!
This is a simple overview of something that has complexity and nuance – so reach out if you have questions or just want to chat personas!