How to Create Personas for Small Businesses

 Have you ever walked into a shopping center, with all the different kiosks and stores selling their various wares, and immediately felt lost? Have you gone into one of those stores only to realize nothing there interests you at all?

This is the challenge customer’s face when stepping into the shopping center that is the Internet. You know what products and services you offer, you know who would be interested in coming into your store and browsing around. How you target and attract those specific customers is a vital component to your marketing strategy.

How you create content for these customers is a key component to your success. The first step is to understand the concept of personas. 

1. What is a Persona?

A persona is the fictional, broad stroke, version of your very real customer. Personas begin as concepts of whom you need viewing your site and purchasing your services/products. Not all people are completely alike; however, they all bring overlapping needs and expectations. If there is one thing customers can all agree on, it’s that they do not like to be let down. A persona encompasses your customer’s shared paint points and allows you to focus on marketing towards your business’s ability to resolve them. A fully fledged persona takes these shared needs and expectations from concept to reality, creating a tangible audience you can tailor your site and its content for.

 Key Elements of a Persona

  1. Your persona should be built into the core of your visible space, whether that is a website or store front. Every link, page and graphic should speak to your persona. If something is not appealing to the customers you need for your business, who is it for? Many sites and marketing strategies can become bloated as they attempt to reach too wide of an audience. Unless you sell one of every product or service imaginable, there is no need to attract every customer type.

2. How To Research a Persona

A persona is only as strong as the research in which it is built upon. You can’t expect to sell anything to a customer that you do not know or understand.

Ask Questions…A Lot of Questions

The first step in researching your persona is to simply ask your customers the big questions:

  1. Role. What is it that your customers do on day-to-day basis? What is asked of them by their customers, their colleagues or even their boss? Don’t shy away from specifics and heavy details. Find out their job title, their role and even the way in which their work is measured. What skills are needed to perform their job and what knowledge, tools and training is required to be successful. Knowing the details of how your customers function in their jobs gives incredible insight to their needs and wants.

Collect Data Through Your Website

Be efficient with your website, make it work for you. When creating forms ensure the fields capture key information from your customers. Asking the size of all your customer’s companies can give you a cross section of the demand your customers require. Finding out what preferred social networks they use, and determining which of those is used most by all your customers can ensure you are focusing your marketing towards the networks your customers actually use.

3. How To Build a Persona

Now that you have the data needed to understand the overlapping wants, needs and pain points of your customers you can begin to analyze it and build a persona.

  1. Pick a marketing tool. Personas are an integral part of Inbound Marketing. Choosing the right Inbound Marketing source is important. One of the most efficient and effective tools for doing so is HubSpot. Using HubSpot you can quickly create a contact for each customer. You can easily enter in all the data you have collected and expand on that using the Search on Google feature. HubSpot contacts can then be searched through and categorized.

4. Writing For a Persona

You are now ready to tailor your content towards a real audience comprised of what your customer base needs and expects. Some key ideas to keep in mind:

  1. Write on their terms. Everything your customer reads should be in a language they not only understand but engages them. Your customer’s should feel comfortable with the way you speak to them and not feel lost in technological jargon or terms that, while making perfect sense to you, are unnecessary for their jobs. If your persona is complete and detailed with information from your current customers then you should have the data needed to know how detailed your communication should be. Take it a step further though and keep your style in line with what your persona would want. Colors, fonts and even formatting are crucial to how stimulating your text is to the right audience.

Inbound Marketing Strategy

The act of converting attracted visitors into customers and continuing to impress your existing clients is an incredibly successful strategy. Personas are the first step this process and a critical aspect to have mastered before moving through the rest of the process. Performing all the tasks required can be time consuming though. Outsourcing your marketing can help handle a lot of the work required.