3 great tips for creating personas

Updated: Jun 18

As entrepreneurs, let's face facts, we could be busy 20hrs a day, every day of the week, and still not have got through our ' to do' list. So the question to ask ourselves is not 'am I doing enough?' but 'am I doing the right things?'

To figure out how to make sense of our task lists with this in mind, it is critical that we have a method that consistently helps us make the trade-offs, what we are going to prioritise, and what would be nice to do, should we have the time.

My bias is always to be customer obsessed, and so for me, the natural place to start is with my prioritisation of the customers that I care about most, to achieve my business goals. Marketeers and Product Managers call this customer 'Personas'.

A persona has nothing to do with an individual customer, but everything to do with understanding a 'type' of customer with similar characteristics. To grossly simplify, take the example of Waitrose vs Aldi - they appeal to the same market segment (Supermarkets), but their focus is on a particular 'type' of customer and using this understanding of their target customer, they are able to build for (and delight) the entire business process. This is the key to so many things, but not least to achieving differentiation and efficiency of effort and resources.

So how do we go about setting up our Persona?

  1. Go back to your business plan, who do you believe are your customers? What labels or descriptions have you already defined?

  2. Pick the 3 customer types that are bringing you the most revenue today

  3. Contrast that with the customer types you have data to suggest are the revenue pots for tomorrow

These are great places to start, if you have the data, but don't worry if you don't, what you will learn in this process is something that you can retrofit to a business plan anyway.

Lets start making some lists:

Start with some ideas about your audience (customer), it can often help to give them a name that means something to you are your team:

  1. Angel : 34-40yrs old, No Children (yet), Mid Career, Urbanite, into Yoga and Wholefoods, Fluent in Mandarin, English

  2. Ben : Teenage, lives with parents, Grime lifestyle, fashion conscious ,would like to go to art school, Speaks English

  3. Meg : 50 - 65, Grown up children, not ready to retire, active outdoor, dog owner, English speaking has studied more than one European language.

Already, you can sense these are wildly different customers - yours may be much more similar, but that means you need to work hard on differentiation. Don't worry that one looks a lot like another... There are no shortage of Waitrose customers that shop in Aldi and vice versa - remember, it's about the type, not the specific individual.

Now continue to refine these, noting down who they are and what they care about.

  1. Demographics

  2. Goals

  3. Known Habits

  4. Pain Points

Why this is so important is that your product and services should be able to clearly move your persona / customers closer to achieving an important goal.

How can you hone a value proposition unless you clearly and compellingly express the problem statement?

A business pain point is an issue or problem causing “pain” in an organization and requiring a solution. True business pain isn't a problem where the solution is a nice-to-have.

  • It's a budgeted

  • pull-your-hair-out

  • have-to-get-it-solved

  • discussed-at-the-board-level kind of problem.

Because they affect the bottom line, they must be solved in order for the organization to grow and function successfully. Your business and it's service must position itself to clearly address these pain points.

Becoming obsessed with your customer and their pain points is the best advice you will ever take!

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