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Getting Started with Customer Personas

David Bosley

You’ve spent months detailing out the slightest bit of information about your customers. Analyzing their sales habits. Stalking them on Google. Creating intrusive (to them!) surveys to define their motivations. Identifying exactly when they’re most likely to be on Facebook. Peering into their buying habits. All to create the most comprehensive and detailed customer personas of all times. Yet, did you ever actually use the information that you gathered?

As a top New York Branding Agency on DesignRush, we take a serious but efficient and effective approach in creating this integral part of a brand’s identity. Creating customer personas should be more than simply an academic exercise, it should be a living, breathing way to connect to your buyers at a visceral level — and meet them where they are in their buyer journey.

Customer Personas: An Overview

What are customer personas? Think about it like this: if you were going to describe your best friend and what they like and don’t like, how would you start? Perhaps you’d look at whether they prefer talking on the phone or receiving a text message (communication style), their personality (snarky or sweet) and their style (funky or classy). These are some of the same things you will need to know about your buyers! In today’s marketing world of hyper-personalization, there are myriad opportunities to put this type of information together to allow customers to feel as though you’re speaking directly to them as a friend would. This allows you to create meaningful brand stories for broad groups of people who share similar characteristics. Some things to think about as you’re putting together a group of personas:

  • What are the problems customers are trying to solve?
  • Why is your product the best solution?
  • What do you know about your buyers? Age, gender, location, interests, shopping habits, employment, and education level are all valid data points — but motivation may be the most important of all.

Hubspot offers some great free tools for buyer personas, including surveys and interviews as well as a persona building tool. You can check them out, or give our digital marketing pros a call for some expert assistance.

Why You Need Customer Personas

Finding Relevant Information

This may all feel a tad overwhelming, especially once you start diving into the data and realize exactly how complex we are as humans. Social media, Google insights, and your website analytics may be some of the best places to look for data, as well as any email marketing that you’re already doing. Take the opportunity to ask a simple question of your buyers whenever possible, a quick yes/no that may help you differentiate between buyer groups or identify motivations. However, one of the best ways to learn true motivations and better understand your customers is to identify some of your best customers and ask them! Buyer interviews can get some valuable information that may not be shared in a questionnaire. You may discover that customers are using your products or services in a completely unexpected way to solve a problem that wasn’t even on your radar. Once you ferret something like this out — use it, don’t bury it! This is marketing gold.

Narrowing the Field

It’s important to look for patterns within the information. As you add more tidbits and details, you should start to see “buckets” or groupings of individuals with similar interests or motivations. Groupings could form by age, gender, level of education, life stage (different from age!) and more. Organizing the many detailed pieces of data and narrowing them down is an exercise that takes some time, but is definitely worth the effort. This is where it may make sense to engage an external party to help you take your personal perspective out of the picture so you’re not assigning motivations to people — instead, you’re listening for their motivations to be stated.