Why customer personas aren’t just a marketing fad

A bug bear of mine is that so many websites are written from the perspective of the company rather than the customer.  So for example, the format for a typical website is “We do this and we do that, click here to find out more”.  This, like much marketing, is written from a company centric perspective yet it isn’t rocket science to realise that in order to keep the interest of the reader, all marketing should be client centric.  If you buy into this then you will also understand that in order to be customer centric, you have to have detailed knowledge of your customers – and the latest term for this is Customer Personas.

Your customer personas describe your typical client and will probably cover 80% of your client base.  If you get an understanding of who they are, their key challenges and drivers – then you bring them to life and will find it much easier when producing marketing or content to consider with whom you want to engage.  Let’s take me,  I have 3:

David (50 years old) the CEO of mid sized business (25-200 staff) – He is the driving force of the business with clear vision and ambition to grow the business. He doesn’t always communicate with the rest of the staff/management team that well. He isn’t always patient with staff and his ambitions sometimes leave rest of business behind and looks for external help around people and infrastructure.

Jane (40 years old) Owner/Manager of small business – Enjoys the rewards of working hard including eating out and nice holidays. Gets frustrated that her staff don’t always get it. Keen to delegate more but doesn’t have the right level of management team beneath her. Surrounds herself with a great external network of mentors, coaches and allies. Frustrated that the business takes one step forward and one step back so looks for external help.

Sarah (35 years old), HR Director/manager of mid sized business – Trying to deliver the people agenda for ambitious companies. Can sometimes be a lone voice when the business is moving too fast without considering the people/infrastructure. Turns to coaching to support the development of senior teams but also can be the person tasked with finding a coach.

When I am writing (including this blog), I first consider who I want to engage with (which will rarely be all 3) and then what their challenges are around the particular topic I am writing about.  I can then consider the key words they might type into Google and so on.  If you want to read more about this, download this whitepaper from my client, Southerly Communications.  If you want some help with yours, then get in touch.

So whilst the term customer persona is relatively new, the ideas around it aren’t (and they are very sound).  Is your business clear about your personas?  Is your marketing communications company- or customer- focused?

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