The Importance of Accurate Personas

By: Zach Rosen

In order for a company to be successful, they have to make money. To make money, they need people to purchase their goods or services. To find the people who will eventually become their customers, companies use personas. A persona can best be described as a made up person built as an aggregation of the personal attributes of a larger group of people. According to Forbes, “buyer personas are imperative to having accurate audience insights.

I know what you’re probably thinking – any smart company knows exactly who their audience is, right? Well…yes and no. Of course they have a pretty good idea; Men’s Warehouse obviously knows that their target audience is men, and that they likely business men. What they don’t know, however, is how much money they make, or how often they shop, or whether or not they even do shop. That’s where personas come in. They have to know as much as possible about their audience before “attacking” or they run the risk of driving them away.

When building personas, it’s very important to consider the fact that you will almost certainly need more than one. Even though most consumers may share many similarities, it can be very dangerous to generalize them too heavily. In that same Forbes article, they noted “Each persona is approached differently from a marketing perspective, making it important to understand them individually.”  By treating marketing strategies towards each consumer the same way, you risk alienating a great deal of them.

In an article for Medium, author Roisin McCormack lists 6 tips for building a great persona. Personally, I think they are a great representation of what goes in to this process.

  1. Back everything up – Essentially, have a reason for every decision you make when building a persona.
  2. Assume nothing and stay objective – Forget everything you think you know about people, and just trust the data and research.
  3. Quality over quantity – A handful of important characteristics is much better than dozens of useless ones.
  4. Keep them short and sweet! – Somebody should be able to look at the persona for one minute and absorb all the information
  5. Finishing touches make all the difference – Design and aesthetics matter!
  6. Woohoo! We’re done! Oh wait… – Your work is NEVER done! A good persona should be constantly tweaked and updated.

At the end of the day, there are countless different ways you can go about building a persona. As long as you remain considerate of their immense importance, it can actually be a fun and enlightening task!

 

Twitter: @zrosen33

This Article Has 5 Comments
  1. Kelsey Scott says:

    Zach, great job with this post! I definitely think that number 6 hits the nail on the head when it comes to building accurate personas. The market is constantly changing, and I believe it is imperative to constantly update and tweak targeting strategies. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Morgan Wilkes says:

    Great post, Zach! The broad example of Men’s Warehouse is a really good example of why we need personas. There always will be that general, assumed, overly broad consumer that people assume shop at a store, but until there is that deep dive into every aspect of a potential consumer and creating that persona, there could be missed information. Once the true data is interjected to back up the claims, then this is where a true consumer identity lies.

  3. Victoria Schmidt says:

    Hi Zach– great post! I really resonated with number two: “Assume nothing and stay objective – Forget everything you think you know about people, and just trust the data and research.” Sometimes I find myself relying too heavily on what I think I know and not putting in the time to fully research all aspects of the personas.

  4. Kelly Thackery says:

    I agree with you that you really need more than one persona when looking at any market. However I remember Doug Wilson letting us know that over 10 personas is just to much. I also really like how you point out that personas always need to be re-evaluated and updated as I feel like this step is often forgotten or given up on.

  5. SSM Student says:

    Zach,
    The idea that personas need to constantly be updated is something businesses continue to get wrong over and over again. Outdated ads have been something you see often and is a huge waste of time and money for businesses. Overall, great post and very insightful.

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