Over the last couple of weeks, we've been talking about buyer personas. We've talked about why they're a necessary part of a marketing strategy, what kinds of questions to ask your customers to better understand them and why you should base your personas on real answers and not assumptions. The final thing to do after asking the right questions and collecting and organizing your answers is to put them in a form that is useful and easy to understand.
Many different people in your organization will be looking at and learning from your buyer personas if you're using them correctly. Designers may be using them to understand what aesthetics will resonate with a user. SEOs will use them to determine what types of keywords customers might be searching. Content writers will use them to make sure they're writing to the correct audience. Developers can use them to understand how a user wants to interact with a site. Photographers and videographers can use them in their content as well. If personas are created well, they can be used throughout an organization to help ensure cohesive marketing efforts.
Be Concise With Your Personas
One reason personas don't get used after they're created is that they're not easy to understand. It's important when you're writing a persona to only give as much information as needed to understand the customer. In other words, make sure that everything you're writing is useful. It's perfectly fine to describe the persona's job and home life if those things are going to be pertinent to content and strategy decisions in your marketing team. Don't worry too much about making sure you tell their whole story or even if you're using complete sentences (but please use complete thoughts!). Many times, trimming away the non-essentials will leave you with a persona that is lean and much easier to digest.
Even if your thoughts are written well, you must put effort into how they're organized. It's imperative that you develop a format for your personas that will gather all the main ideas in one place but still be easy to quickly understand. I've made the mistake in the past of creating full-page personas for each customer I was targeting. This ended up being way more text than was necessary to understand the individual and made for a six-page document no one really wanted to read and didn't end up using. Now, I typically organize my personas in a table with columns representing each persona as you can see in the picture above. These make for a much more useful persona set.
One thing that happens a lot in marketing departments and agencies is a lack of information sharing. While typically not intentional, it can be very easy to get two different strategies going at the same time because of a lack of communication. It's important that when you're defining a set of personas for your company you make sure everyone is aware they exist and need to be used across the company. Sometimes this can be a hard sell because it means we need to think more and admit our assumptions could be wrong, but if people can keep the buyer personas in their sights, then everyone will stay on target.
Now that we've created our own personas at Caddis, we're going to start putting them to work as we continue to create new content and start to rethink our own web presence.