5 steps to create your persona

persona journey
is your persona on the road to nowhere

Are you on the road to nowhere? To be accurate, is your persona on the road to nowhere?

Not sure?

That’s what personas are for. . Personas are a simple tool that capture the insight surrounding your audience so you can understand them better. So you check:

  • your offer fits,
  • your brand resonates,
  • your content brilliantly nudges them forward on their journey,
  • you know the exchange value of the expected change.

Join them on their journey

The most important point to take-away is that the process of developing a persona is a basic courtesy to your audience. By taking the time to understand your audience in their space you are able to join them on their journey instead of expecting them to fall in line with yours.

Bustling high street of shoppers
Join your audience in their space, on their journey.

Step 1: Jot down the basics

Jot down the top line facts (their demographics). Who are they? Where do they live? In what type of house do they live in? Are they working? Do they live with friends or family. Keep it simple. The persona template is available via the subscribe button at the end of the post.)

For example: Jackie, mum of two children now left home at university, works full-time in retail. Married. Loves dogs. Dependant on buses. Lives in ex-council house, no mortgage. Small town.

Step 2: Media consumption

Jot down their online and offline media preferences. If you are not sure check out Ofcoms superb 2018 report on Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes

  • What offline media do they consumer, e.g. local newspapers, nationals, magazines?
  • Where are they in the social media space?
  • Do they consume podcasts, blogs?
  • Who are their digital influencers?
  • What forums online communities are they part of?
  • When are they online, and for how often?

Jackie loves her local paper but she doesn’t buy it. She reads it through Facebook posts. She is on Facebook during her lunch and again in the evening often to check what her sons are up to. She knows they filter their posts but isn’t keen on Snapchat. She listens to Womens Hour podcast via Alexa. She is a member of some Facebook groups, and uses uses online shopping for her weekly food shop. She listens to LBC.

Step 3: Attitudes (in relation to your goal)

How do they feel about your message or goal? What do you think drives and motivates that thinking? Is it their social norm? Who is their main influencer.

In this example the goal is for mid-life home-makers to wield their purchasing power and stop buying goods with plastic packaging. This is a great aspiration and strategic programme goal but a vague project goal. A measurable, achievable goal might be to stop buying fruit and vegetables using excess plastic.

However…Jackie blames the manufactures and suppliers. She shops online and doesn’t really notice the packaging. She is already thinking about the calories and she doesn’t have the head space to think anymore. She does recycle surely that’s enough. She’s not open to changing her purchases. She shops online because she hates carrying heavy shopping on the bus. She doesn’t really believe her small purchases make much of a difference.

Step 4: Identify their current behaviour (in relation to your goal)

It’s easy to stay quite vague when identifying the current behaviour because you may already know what they are doing. It could be the reason you are targeting them in the first place.

Try not to do stick with your original assumptions, test them and tease them out. This will break up linear thinking and open up creativity and innovation. Behavioural frameworks are great at breaking it up into bite-sized pieces.

For example if COM-B is your chosen theory you could ask what is their capability? What opportunities do they have and what is their motivation like?

In theory Jackie has the capability to use her purchase power but digging deeper she doesn’t have the physical capability because she doesn’t have the strength to carry shopping home. There are opportunities to purchase locally without plastic on the high street but they do not resonate with her because she cannot carry many items. Her opportunities her online. She is not actively motivated to choose different products the way she is when counting calories. She considers this to be a whole society issue including the manufacturers and suppliers. It’s not top of her to-do list.

Step 5: Join their journey

By Step 4 your persona is pretty much there and you should be able to join them on their journey. This final step is what elevates it to being an essential project tool and incredibly useful for your planning.

You now know who your persona is, what their environments are like (online and off), who their influencers are and what their current behaviour is.

Now use what you know to identify where and how you will join them to motivate and inspire them. Creating a persona is like creating art it is personal to you so include the intelligence that matters most to you. You will have a lot of data at this point so filter and prioritise the information that will support your programme.

I like to ensure my persona’s are on one page, I use images and logos where I can and the most common points I use are demonstrated in the Jackie example. A persona template is also available when you subscribe below.

Barriers to change: time poor, low awareness of online swap Motivators: Support retailers take action, reduce recycling Opportunities: Online (not high street) Capability: Highly capable online but may not be aware Popular Consumer brands: Tesco Amazon Women’s Hour Social Media: Facebook Groups: Buy & Sell groups Influencers: Family, sons futures, workplace Attitude: is a barrier, low interest, competing with a lot of individual change such as weight loss

Congratulations! You have a persona.

Now use it!

Use your persona to answer these questions and apply the core social marketing principle of Exchange.

What is the exchange I am offering to make to the persona? Am I expecting a change without giving to them also? Will they perceive my offer as a loss (think loss aversion and MINDSPACE). What is the benefit for them, is it Easy, Attractive, Social & Timely (EAST)?

Help! I have more questions now

If by following these steps you are left with more questions than answers that’s a win too. If you don’t know your audience as well as you thought you did then use the gaps in knowledge to frame your market research brief.

Market research doesn’t have to be expensive and if you follow this process you will have narrowed the brief giving it a tight focus. Most market researchers will love a persona and will test assumptions, your offer, proposed content and messaging.

If you don’t have the budget to commission then connect with your target audience from your desk. Read the blog post ‘5 top tips for conducting online focus groups’.

For more reasons to explain why personas can transform your social marketing read the blog Why Personas matter and will save you time.

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