CREATING PERSONAS - Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Content Development for Your Marketing Success

Lesson #28–CREATING PERSONAS

This is internet income course lesson twenty-eight, which continues to simplify the difficulties of starting and running a profitable online business by breaking down important principles in simple English. Course author, George Little, continues to reveal tips, real-world advice, and in-depth, step-by-step instructions on setting up your Internet-based business. Read the previous lesson 27 here.

WHAT YOU WILL LEARN
In this lesson, we will begin the discussion of how to create "personas."

OUR FOCUS--CONTENT CREATION

In previous lessons, we have mentioned more than one reason to use personas and there are even more than we have mentioned. Personas can be used to guide product development, Website design, marketing strategy, and for other purposes as well. Our focus for now, however, will be the use of personas to guide content development.

More simply stated, when you sit down to type out a post or comment on social media or to write an entry for your blog, personas can guide you as to what to say. What should you write about to show your followers that you understand their issues and want to help? That is the question that personas help you to answer.

Choosing A Template

There is no one standard template for creating a persona. In fact, there are almost as many templates as there are individuals and companies creating personas. Since your personas are for your "in-house" use and will not be published, the design, style, and format used are entirely matters of your own taste. As for the information to be included, that is based on your own particular needs. You can revise your templates at any time as you gain more experience with using your personas. There are a variety of free persona templates you can download. There are also a few free online persona creation services. But, to get you started with even less trouble, I have created a basic sample template you can easily download (no registration required). I have two file formats. One is in .PDF format (to preserve the formating) so you can get a visual idea of what a template looks like. The other is in .DOC format so that you can easily alter it to suit your own needs. You can download the .PDF here and the .DOC version here.

Once you've downloaded the persona templates, we can get started.

Finding The Information Needed

The first question that comes to mind when looking at a persona template is "Where do I find the information to put in the template?" The first step in answering this question is knowing which demographic you want this template to represent. Say you are just starting out offering domain name registrations and you want to use personas to help you be more effective at this endeavor. You don't yet have any data on your own customers because you don't have any customers yet. It occurs to you, though, that you have access to an unlimited number of domain name customers...it's called the Internet...all you have to do is look at a random sample of Websites and start gathering data about who registers domain names.

No doubt, the first thing you will observe is that larger companies register domain names. Most medium size companies register domain names also. You will see a large number of very small companies as well. In addition, you will see many individual bloggers. But, when you stop to think about people you know, many of them do not have a domain name. Thus, the short answer is that while countless organizations and individuals purchase domain names, not everyone does. Many individuals have no interest in blogging or marketing on the Internet. These latter individuals are happy just using social media to express themselves online, without need of their own blog or Website.

Next, you have to decide which segment of those that do purchase domain names you want to target. You can easily determine that the very large companies are not likely to purchase from you...at least not until you get established. They will arrange their Internet and social media purchases through other large, established, companies that specialize in this field. So, you can strike them off your target market list for now. Same is likely true of mid sized companies. Your best bet is going to be small local businesses and individuals with a desire for their own Webstie.

You do not want to write off entirely those small local businesses and individuals who already have a domain name registered. If your service can provide renewal for their domain name at a much better price than they are now paying, you can market to them as well. And, these people have readily available data. You can learn much about them just by reading their Websites or blogs!

Long story short, let's say you decide to focus on those small businesses and individuals who seek to start blogging for the first time and those that are doing so already. Thus, you have two demographics here. You should make a separate persona for each group at first. Later, you can divide them into even more templates.

Let's start with the easy one first, those that are already blogging. Pick out a few blogs that you feel are representative and read their articles as well as their posts on social media to gather data about them.

Creating A Persona For Existing Bloggers

The Name

When you look at the sample template I provided, you see that the first thing to do is come up with a name for the persona. You should not use a real person's name as the persona is a fictional character, not a real one. Be creative; have fun with it. A convention often used is to let the last name be somewhere descriptive of the type of personality or characteristics of the person (as in our examples from an earlier lesson, "Carol Co-ed" and "Fred Freshman" were names given to fictional college students). You can also use the descriptive name first as in "Analytic Angie," "Bloviating Betty," "Concise Carl," or, for a blogger who is always raising a lot of questions, "Curious Kurt." My examples use alliteration, but that is, of course, not necessary unless you find it fun.

Photo

Next on the template is a place for a representative photo or drawing. Unlike my suggestion that the name not be a real person's name, to save yourself time, you may want to use a real person's photo. Since you will never publish your personas, there's no harm in it. (If you ever do publish it for any reason, you should definitely not use a real person's photo.) As a safer alternative, if you have time, you can look through royalty-free stock photos of faces and pick one you think matches the character of your persona. Or, if you can draw, just make a drawing.

However you create it, it is important psychologically to have a photo for each persona. A photo or a drawing of a person brings the persona to life. It gives you a face to match with your data. It helps to see the person for which you will be creating content. It will help you feel more like you are talking to a real person, having a real conversation, and not just throwing words out.

The Quote

Next on the template, just under the photo, is a place to insert a quote from your fictional persona. Just as an example that comes to mind in light of our hypothetical domain name registration service, it could be something like, "As long as my blog looks professional and loads quickly, I want to save every penny of cost that I can."

It may be better to wait on filling in the quote until you have completed the rest of the persona. This way, you can take into account all of the data you have when framing the quote.

Basic Information

Then, moving over to the right side of the top of the template, you need to add the basic data for the person. The template I prepared uses age, sex, place residing (country, province, state, city, etc.), the type of work they do, their major work goals and major personal goals. Remember, though, that you can change any of this information to something that is more useful for your purposes. The template is just a guide to get you started.

How do you generate this information for a persona? As for age, randomly review several blogs, looking especially at the About page, and if the blogger doesn't tell you outright, take your best guess from their photo or other information as to what their age may be. For example, if it is a fashion blogger blogging about fashion for the over 50 woman, you could set the age as "over 50."

Determining the age of your persona is a good example of how the process helps you to think about your potential customers. This may lead you to search for bloggers in their 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's or over 50. Thus, you are beginning the process of using demographics to sort our your potential customers. If you are selling domain name registrations as we are assuming in this lesson, age might not be much of an issue. Whether you blog about things of interest to millennials or senior citizens, you still need a domain name. The name a blogger chooses to register will definitely need to account for the age of their readers, but the need for a domain in the first place is age independent. If you suspect that certain domain extensions might appeal more or less to people depending upon their age, age might be a factor in how you market domain names. If we were selling fashion or retirement accounts, age would definitely make a difference.

The point is that this entire thought process, this analysis of age and how it matters in our marketing, is spurred by the process of creating a persona.

This makes for a good place to break until our next lesson. In the meantime, you should have enough to really get you started with the process of creating personas.

CONCLUSION
In this lesson, we have begun our discussion of how to create personas. You can use the personas you create to guide you in the content creation process. First, you must choose a template. We have provided a basic template you can download to get started. To create the template, you must decide which demographic you want this template to represent. Next, you have to gather information from samples in this demographic. How you do that will depend to some extent upon the demographic you choose. You need to add a name and a photo to the template. Under the photo, you provide a quote of something the fictional character might say. Then, you begin to add the basic information such as age, sex, residence, work, and work and personal goals.

Creating personas is a learning process. It helps you to determine who your potential customers and target markets should be. It helps you break down those potential customers and target markets into demographic groups. Because of this creating personas is an important as using them. Allocate enough time to be thoughtful about your persona creation.

WHAT'S COMING NEXT
In our next lesson, we will continue our discussion of how to create personas. You may read the next lesson here: Creating Personas, Part 2. And you may also browse through the Internet Income training Index.

Author
By George Little, Panhandle On-Line, Inc. For more information on the Internet Income Course and other works and courses by George Little, see http://www.profitpropulsion.com

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