5 Steps to Creating Audience Personas for Your Ideal Customer

Your business isn’t for everyone. As much as we may like to think that everyone loves our products, services, and all that we have to offer–it just isn’t reality. It may sting a little to hear that truth, but the beauty in the reality is that there are niches of people that will love what you do, keep coming back, and share their experiences. So who are these people? And how do you find them?

Why are personas important?

Understanding who your ideal target audience is not only gives you insight into what they are interested in, but having a well thought out persona will also help you learn what that audience needs and data-backed information to go along with their niche(s).

Getting Started

The nice thing about creating a persona is that you cannot mess up. There isn’t a universal setlist. Although you can speculate who your competitors are drawing in, and there are a million examples online–you get to make the final call as to what your ideal consumer looks like.

Many people will believe: “Everyone likes my products/services!” As much as we would like that to be true, your product/service is not for everyone. And, that’s ok! Focus on the 1 to 3 key personas that are the primary target of your business.

Let’s explore the 5 simple steps to creating audience personas for your ideal customer.

Tip: While you’re creating your list of who your product is for, it can also be helpful to note who your business is not for. These are called exclusionary personas.

01. Understand Your USP

When you opened your business, the chances are high that you saw a need in the market–something that you would be able to offer. In a nutshell, this is your unique selling point or proposition (USP). A USP is a short statement about the challenges you are solving for a particular audience with your products/services. If you haven’t created a USP statement, take a look at this great guide by Shopify.

When you begin to define your ideal audience personas, looking back at your USP will guide you to the most prominent customer. In turn, this information will help guide your business to success and help determine product lines, services offered, even the aesthetic of your branding.

02. Find Your Ideal Customer/Client

Seemingly daunting, finding a list of people to contact and research isn’t as hard as you may think! Simply start with your existing customer base. Even if you are just beginning your business, the chances you have talked to someone about the defining features of what you have to offer others is high. Compile a list of employees and stakeholders. Then, dive into your social media following for you (and even your competitors).

Having this core group of people that are already connected to you and value your initiatives will be a great start to defining your ideal customer persona(s).

Tip: Look into your community’s leadership organizations such as economic development, chamber of commerce, and business associations. Typically they have resources that can connect you to even more people and research done on the market you are trying to reach.

03. Begin Quantitative Research

After you get your database to a decent size (shoot for more than 50, up to 100+ if you can), you’re ready to start your quantitative research. This research will include generalities of the people in your grouping. Notice their gender identity, marital status, age ranges, job titles and industry, family circles, household incomes, and geographic location. You may even notice other key identifiers such as schooling, overall lifestyle, and more.

Next, you’ll start combining the similarities of these individuals. This will allow you to see trends and start forming an idea of the general customer profile you are trying to establish. Many people do not recognize that the general population can be gathered by key demographic identifiers which in turn allow us to add data and assumptions based on factual findings. 

For example: if your general population is Gen Z, you’ll need to appeal to their parents which are typically Millennials or the tail end of Gen X. This means that the language you use, the places you advertise and the content you produce will need to cater to both sets of demographics (creating two key personas).

04. Ask the Right Questions

You’ve identified your audience and have a general idea of what they like, what they do, and how they interact with brands and their content. Now it’s time to solidify what you’ve researched, and this means good old fashioned questioning.

Asking the right questions can be done in many different formats.

  • Talk to your customers and clients when they are with you, asking questions that will help you gather insight to their “persona”. 
  • Create polls and content on your social channels for audience interaction. Note: This may not be 100% accurate as your ideal audience is not the only people who follow you. Take this information lightly, but it is still insightful.
  • Talk to your “usuals”. If you have return customers and clients, they are probably coming back for a reason. Reach out to them via email, social media, or even a phone call! 
  • Gather a group. Focus groups have pros and cons to them, but can be very informational for business development and creating your ideal audience personas. Make it into an event for something fun while you gather specific information from each attendee.
  • Send a survey with a freebie. Everyone likes a good deal, and it’s a great way to entice your database to help answer questions.

Tip: If you’re not sure what to ask, check out this great article by Hubspot: 20 questions to ask in persona interviews.

05. Draft, Test, Share, Repeat

Now comes the fun part! It’s time to take all the details and information you’ve gathered and begin drafting. Remember: there is no right or wrong way to create these personas. Have fun with it! Here are a few elements a persona profile will include.

  • Persona Name
    Typically you will see personas that have an adjective placed in front of a name. For example: Creative Cara, Grandma Gracie, Philanthropic Phil, etc. However, you can add a specific job title/level with the name if your audience is specific enough for it. (i.e.: Marketing Molly, Branding Brenda, Podcast Host Holly)
  • Personal Information
    Next is the personal identifier of the person. Remember, you are identifying an ideal customer. Be specific in the information you draft in your persona to make it appear almost as if it is a real individual. Personal information can include, but is not limited to: age, gender identity, occupation, location, and you can even use stock photography to add a photo of what you think this persona looks like.
  • Description
    The following element you will create is the description of the persona. This may seem daunting but think of it as if you were introducing this “person” to a friend. Write down who they (the audience) are, what they do, and what their focus is. Typically you will see this information presented in a short paragraph.
  • Persona Motivation
    Now you’ll want to dive into why they do what they do. This is the leading factor(s) that motivate the ideal persona to make the choices they make. Referring back to the introduction of the persona to a friend, this would be an in-depth description of what they do. 
  • Concerns
    Once you identify the motivation, you’ll be able to flow directly into their concerns. What questions are they asking and what are they looking to solve? List out 3 to 5 challenges or obstacles the persona faces with accomplishing being the best version of themselves they could be.
  • Overall Goals
    Paralleling concerns are their overall goals. What does this persona want to accomplish, and what is the ultimate point they want to achieve? By including this information in your persona profile, you’ll be able to measure the success of your products and services.

Although these 6 elements are the most common found on a customer persona profile, your options of developing this person out even further is limitless. Here are more elements you may want to consider presented by Forum One.

Creating audience personas for your ideal customer is a great addition to your branding initiatives for business success. Not only do they help in bringing focus back to your business decision and making sure your customers stay at the core of your brand, but it also helps identify where you put your energy. Why try gaining attention from Complex Caitlin when you really need Simple Sarah as your consumer?

We understand your plate is already full of other tasks that come along with entrepreneurship. Consider partnering with us to create these personas for you! Reach out to our Vela Creative team about creating your audience personas here: velacreativeco.com/contact.

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