Developing Customer Personas

Understanding the who

Quality Digest

April 30, 2020

Marketing is all about having a clear vision. To many, that means understanding what you want to see happen, and how you plan to accomplish it.

As important as that is, however, a different and much more imperative vision must come first: the vision of your potential customers and their perception of your brand and offer. How these people locate you, and what they think when they first see your message, is something you must think about long and hard. First impressions are meaningful in real life. They are determinant online.

Questions abound when it comes to customers:
• Who are they?
• Where are they?
• What do they want?
• How do they find me?
• What moves them to act?

To start answering these questions, it helps to build a customer persona that is informed by data about your existing customers as well as some “dreaming” about the customers you want. Be specific. Create the story of your customers and imagine their lives in detail. You need to understand their motivations, their fears, their desires—whatever it is that will connect to what you have that will address their needs.

Don’t force it. If while creating the persona you have a nagging feeling that this imagined user really won’t benefit from your product or service, then you have two choices: You can create a different persona, or you can create a different product or service. We’d certainly recommend the former.

You won’t get it right at first. You’ll think you know something about your potential customers that won’t be borne out by testing. You’ll have to adjust. But eventually, your data will inform the fine-tuning of your persona-building, and you’ll see results.

The idea of relevance to highly targeted users is often overlooked, but it shouldn’t be. Quality should always trump quantity, so think long and hard about the specifics of your offer and how it will connect to users with a problem that needs solving.

Considering the user’s journey to the landing page will help you carry that person along your nurturing path from prospect to customer.

Good Customer journey approaches
• Carefully select your partners and platforms with a proven track record of attracting the kinds of users to whom you want to sell
• Create content that will help the right users self-qualify by clearly indicating what they will see when they land on your page
• Test and learn

Bad customer journey approaches
• Throw spaghetti against the wall
• Avoid clarity in two ways—first for yourself, by creating loose and broad content; and second for the user, by failing to explain what is on the other side of a click
• Wing it

Testing is a great place to end this article, because you must test everything and anything in your sales process. This may sound terribly rudimentary, but you would be surprised how infrequently marketers really test. Test different landing page designs. Test your offers and calls to action. Test various types of articles and ads. Test different platforms (you may not know as well as you think where your customers are coming from).

Be sure to test just one of these factors at a time, however, to keep your analysis simple and easy to interpret.

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Quality Digest

For 38 years Quality Digest has been the go-to source for all things quality. Our newsletter, Quality Digest Daily, shares expert commentary and relevant industry resources to assist our readers in their quest for continuous improvement. Our website includes every column and article from the newsletter since May 2009 as well as back issues of Quality Digest magazine to August 1995. We are committed to promoting a view wherein quality is not a niche, but an integral part of every phase of manufacturing and services.