When it comes to creating personas it’s easy to get caught up in the details.
Is Dave the Director a vanilla ice cream guy or chocolate? Does Sally the Sales Manager support Liverpool or Arsenal? While your personas need to be more detailed than “Dave is a B2B marketing manager”, there’s a difference between a well-rounded persona and feeling like you know Dave personally.
Your personas should be detailed – they should have names, job titles, and a list of their pain points and needs, but you shouldn’t be arguing over the colour of their hair or what kind of coffee they like (unless this is vital to your content strategy. If you’re selling tech software, maybe not, but if you’re selling hair dye or coffee beans, well, this information might be vital).
So how do you know what kind of information is genuinely useful and what is superfluous? We live by the rule that your persona should be able to answer these 10 questions. If they can’t, they need more development, if you have tonnes of leftover information that isn’t relevant to these questions, well, you’ve gone too far.
We advise using these questions as a guide while fleshing out your personas rather than looking over them after developing and realising it really didn’t matter whether Matt the Marketing Manager drove a Audi or not.
1. What are your buyer’s needs?
This one is kind of a no-brainer – what does your buyer need? This should come from your market research and you should be looking for opportunities for your products or services to step in and save the day. What challenges does your persona face every day? What would make his/her life easier? What are their pain points?
2. What are your buyer’s preferences?
How does your persona like to make decisions? What are their habits and routines? What are their worries? You need some detail here about the type of person your persona might be – what are their likes and dislikes, and how your service will fit with their preferences.
3. What motivates your buyer?
Do they have a big family to provide for? Do they want the best for their team? Are they facing pressures from management? Tapping into their motivation is a great way of helping you figure out the kind of content that will attract them.
4. What will convince them to share what they see?
What makes them click that share button, or forward on that email? Is it about reputation or recognition? Do they like to be seen to have their finger on the pulse of the latest trends or do they prefer tried-and-true methods? Understanding this is vital to determining the kind of content you should create.
5. What metrics will you need to analyse to gauge success?
Is your persona particularly engaged on social media? Will they spend a lot of time on one page or view several pages before making a decision? Are they more likely to download whitepapers or sign up for your mailing list?
6. Who are your potential competitors?
Was there a discovery about your target audience that you didn’t expect that might lead you to discover new competitors? Is there a need that they have that another competitor satisfies better than you? What can you do about this?
7. Do they give you an idea of the kind of content you need to produce?
From the information you’ve gathered about your persona, you should start to get an idea of the kind of content they would be most interested in. If you’re still not sure at this point then go back and reassess your information at the previous steps.
8. Does they give you an idea of how much content you need to produce?
How often does your persona visit his or her “watering holes” (that is, the places online where they consume information and engage online)? Are they thirsty for new information on a daily basis, or do they just need the headlines? Do they know what they want and have read up on your business online, or do they need more direction?
9. What time should your content be going live?
Does your persona like to check the latest news first thing in the morning, or do they read links through the day? Do they catch up as soon as they wake up or once they get to work? Or do they wait til the end of the day?
10. What happens next?
This is more of a question to ask your personas in the future. How will they change and develop? As you experiment and test new things you also need to update elements of your personas to fit. They should begin to resemble your real audience more and more as time goes on.