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Create Customer Personas for Improved Targeting (Websites, Products and Services)

by Charu Ahuja on January 18, 2011

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Customer PersonasWhether it’s your website or your products and services, designing solutions for the use of others is never an easy thing to do. Usually people start by drawing onto their own experiences and thinking from their own perspectives. While this is a good starting point, the process shouldn’t stop there. It’s important to put on your customer hat and look at things from their point of view. A methodical way to go about this is to develop Personas to represent your customers.

What are Personas?

Personas are fictional characters which you can create to represent a variety of customers. While the characters themselves are fictitious, their needs and behaviors are based on real people. Personas are different from Market Segments which focus more on the broad categories of customers, demographics, sizing, prioritization, etc. Focusing on individuals can help tease out the nuances and subtle details which you may otherwise miss.

How do you create Personas?

Think of the top 2 to 3 types of customers whom you cater towards. Write a statement to describe each type of customer. For each write a name, reasonable age and location. To add a face to each profile, look for photos in old magazines. These make the beginnings of your personas.

Now take each Persona and think of customers who are similar. Write down the needs/desires your customers have expressed. Try to recall things that motivate your customers and their pet peeves and frustrations. If some of your solutions are more applicable towards some customer types than others, jot those down too. Keep these Persona Profiles in a handy place and each time you think of something more, write it down.

Your final Persona Profiles should include:

  • Customer Type
  • Descriptive Statement
  • Photo
  • Name
  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Location
  • Things they need/desire
  • Things that motivate them to use items similar to what you’re offering
  • Pet peeves and frustrations
  • Applicable Solutions (optional)

How do you use Personas?

Think of scenarios that fit with your Personas. Walk through the steps that these individuals will need to take. If you’re working on your website, this will help you determine the flow of pages and how best to communicate. For products and services, use the same approach when developing something new or making improvements to existing items.

In time you will start to notice a difference in the way that you think when you’re developing something for someone else rather than yourself.

Image by Flickr user andybardill (Creative Commons)

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