Personas template: How to build your own

by Catherine Woodside
01 March 2017
Personas template: How to build your ownAudience personas are the cornerstone of every marketing campaign. Here’s where to start when building yours.

Most businesses don't have the marketing resources of the national and global 'household brands' that conduct in-depth audience research and segmentation programs, run focus groups, and gather customer data on an industrial scale. 

But that doesn’t mean your business can’t boost its return on investment (ROI) and marketing effectiveness with some DIY audience analysis, for example by creating marketing personas.

Why personas?

Marketers have been using audience personas for years to make their campaigns more effective. Personas are built around customer insights, market knowledge and as much data as possible. Each represents a set of common attributes – like gender, income, aspirations, short- and long-term business goals, job title and personality traits - that define a group of customers. They become a target audience, and a handy reference point that will help keep your campaigns on track.

Here’s an example of some personas for a small, city-wide chain of florists. Each represents a different, but identifiable, group of customers.

Steve the real-estate stylist:

  • Runs his own business to help people style their homes for open days, as well as interior design services.
  • Sole trader, trying to do it all on his own.
  • Struggles to find reliable suppliers.
  • Prides himself on offering unique styling solutions.
  • Needs a lot of options and likes to make his own bespoke arrangements.
  • Wants to build strong relationships with his vendors and customers (including real estate agents).

Penny the PA:

  • Works for the CEO of a professional services organisation with offices across Australia.
  • Often sends flowers as gifts for staff and clients. 
  • Is looking for affordable but impressive-looking arrangements.
  • Wants to make a decision easily – doesn't have time to consider too many options.
  • Needs easy delivery and ordering processes.
  • Wants to look good to her boss and make recipients feel special.

It's easy to see how different Steve's and Penny's needs are. Steve wants options and flexibility while Penny wants speed and efficiency. It’s unlikely they will both respond positively to the same marketing message. Rather than creating generic messages that will have some appeal to a wide audience, you can use personas to create tailored messages that will speak directly to the customers you want to target.

Who’s your customer? 

No one knows your customers like your frontline staff. They deal every day with your audience's concerns, challenges, and needs, and they’ll have some great insights to contribute to the persona development process.

Bullseye: Develop a more targeted approach to letterbox marketing

Start by surveying your staff about the customers they serve. Find out what industries they tend to work in, their age and education, the kinds of questions they ask and the products they're interested in. If possible,discover whether they have families, where they live, and what they think of your products, customer service and sales process.

You can also consider surveying your customers directly – there are plenty of low-cost online survey tools, like SurveyMonkey, SurveyPlanet or even Google Forms – but be careful to get a good cross-section, for example by surveying in-store customers as well as online visitors.

Good data is the key  

Once you have this initial qualitative data, combine it with any hard data your business already has on its customers. This might come from mailing lists or invoices, or even from research on your industry as a whole.

Data organisations like Nielsen and Roy Morgan, professional services firms like Deloitte, KPMG and PwC, and even the major banks and financial institutions are great sources of industry-specific data. Some reports will be available for free if you're a customer or have an ongoing relationship, while you may need to pay for others, but the insights you gain are likely to be well worth their price.

The specific information you'll want will depend in large part on the kind of business you’re working in, but it's always useful to understand how old your customers are, where they work, and how they found out about your business.

Building a persona

Broadly speaking, three key attributes define personas:

Goals: What the customer wants to achieve, or the problem they want to solve, by coming to your business.

Attitudes: How the customer feels about your industry, product, or service in general.

Painpoints: What concerns might the customer have about using your business.

Using Steven the stylistas an example, we can see that: his goal is to build strong relationships with his customers, and to offer them unique styling options; his attitude towards the florist’s product is that floral arrangements can make or break a design; and one of his pain points is finding reliable vendors who offer him a lot of options.

When you begin to create messages that use these personas, you directly address their concerns – showing how you can support their goals, reassuring them that you understand their attitude, and alleviating any fears they might have about trusting you with their business.

Find them where they live

Once you have your personas in place, you can match them against demographics like RoyMorgan’s HelixPersonas, or Marketfind’s segment profiles. Then your marketing options open up; you can use media planning tools like Salmat’s Swiftplan to map your personas to locations and create tightly targeted campaigns.

Using Census data and comprehensive data sets, Swiftplan narrows your focus so you’re sending your message only to the people most likely to respond. Best of all, Swiftplan helps you keep manage your marketing budget. If you're running a letterbox campaign, for example, after every adjustment Swiftplan will adjust the estimate so you can maximise your ROI and keep your spend under control.

For a mid-sized business,a tactical approach to marketing can pay big dividends. By targeting areas with many residents who align with your personas, you can reach the people you want – at the suburb,street, and even block level –without having to blanket entire suburbs with generic, low-impact messages.

And with your new personas informing all the messaging you create, you can be sure you’re getting the best possible result for every dollar.

Find out more about how we can help you reach more customers or call us on 1300 725 628.

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About the author
Catherine Woodside
Head of Media Sales

Catherine has 20 years of media experience working with a variety of media solutions from newspapers, magazines, letterbox and digital offerings. Her background stems from two distinct sales areas: media sales, selling solutions to major advertisers and consumer sales, selling media to the end consumer through retail and subscription packages.

More articles by Catherine Woodside