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In marketing, there’s one golden rule: to communicate effectively with your audience, it’s imperative to understand who they are.
Whether you’re offering services, products, or solutions, having a thorough understanding of your audience and their motivations is essential. And that goes for B2B as well as B2C. That’s where personas come in.
In this article, we’ll discuss the fundamental importance of defining and understanding your target audience by exploring the notion of personae. We’ll show you why defining and knowing your targets is essential. We’ll also take you through the steps involved in creating relevant personae.
What is a persona?
You’re not selling a product or service, you’re selling a solution to the problems faced by an audience. Personas represent your ideal customers, based on demographic and behavioral data.
Defining personas will have an impact not only on marketing but also on a company’s overall strategy.
Why define your personas?
Defining your personae will first and foremost enable you to understand their motivations and difficulties in everyday life. By taking a deep interest in them, you’ll know who you’re addressing, and how. Good segmentation is the key to more accurate, and therefore more effective, messages.
1- Message personalization :
Personae enable you to tailor your marketing message to the specific needs of each segment of your audience.
This creates a deeper connection, showing that you truly understand the challenges they face.
Not to mention the fact that it’s much easier to write a personalized message.
Just imagine the person in front of you. When you can’t visualize, everything becomes much more generic and therefore less relevant.
2- Optimizing communication channels:
Each persona has its own preferred communication channels. Some may consume information differently. For example, some may prefer LinkedIn, others X (formerly Twitter) or TikTok. By understanding these preferences, you can optimize your marketing and sales efforts to reach each persona more effectively.
3- Product/service development:
Personas provide crucial information for product development. Depending on the specific needs of each persona, you can tailor your products or services to meet these requirements and boost customer satisfaction precisely.
8 Steps to build your personas:
1- Define the objectives for building personas
Clearly defining objectives when creating personas is crucial. Whether to understand who the company needs to address, or to validate existing personas.
But before embarking on such a project, you need to ask yourself: what’s the purpose of this work?
Depending on the objective, building your personae can be an intense and sustained process: you need to talk to as many people as possible to get the widest possible view.
As you establish your personas, you’re likely to identify areas for improvement, messages to emphasize, and language to banish. The whole company must then understand and be aligned with the different personae.
Expert advice 🧠
The construction of personas will enable you to clearly define who to address, how and why, and will therefore have numerous repercussions on corporate strategy. A persona shouldn’t just be a standard customer file tucked away in your Drive, but a guideline that will influence your company’s very strategy.
It’s therefore essential to be clear from the outset about the use of personae, and whether it’s for :
- Work on marketing positioning
- Find the right messages to deliver
- Draw up a list of marketing actions to be implemented
- Choose communication media
- Influence the product roadmap
- Find new services to offer
- Validate interest with the target audience
- Keep my personae up to date
Depending on the objective of creating personae and the maturity of your company, several analyses can be carried out to understand who your targets are. We’ll look at these in detail in the following sections.
2- Analyze existing data
Is your product or service already on the market? Take advantage of this and use the data in your possession to make an initial analysis of your customers.
There’s often a tendency to jump straight into face-to-face interviews and surveys before even looking at your own customer base.
Expert advice 🧠
This is a mistake, because it’s thanks to this first analysis that you’ll be able to understand the typology of your current customers
- Job and responsibility (managerial, operational?)
- Business sector
- Type of structure (start-up, scale-up, agency, major account, independent…)
- Which features or services are most popular?
- How are they used?
- Average shopping basket
- Acquisition channel
- Average decision time
Of course, the data to be tracked will depend on your product and/or service.
Analyzing this initial data will enable you to understand what’s working and what’s not. This will give you an initial overview of your customers and the use of your product/service. Only then should you ask yourself the right questions:
- Are we aiming at the right target?
- Is our KPI the right one?
- Do we have enough information about our current customers?
- Are there other opportunities?
- Do we want to reach another target?
This initial work will enable you to formulate hypotheses. You’ll then validate them, or not, by talking directly to your personas.
Don’t know how to get in touch with them? I’ll explain in the rest of this article.
3- Talk to your personae
Once you’ve established a solid base by analyzing your data, it’s time to move on to the next step: engaging in conversation with your personae.
1️⃣ Determine a maximum of 2-3 targets
To avoid spreading yourself too thin, strategically choose 2-3 personas to explore in depth. For each persona, set yourself an interview target with, for example :
- 5 non-customers
- 5 current or former customers
That’s a minimum of ten interviews per persona.
Expert advice 🧠
Make sure you interview people from different companies, in different sized structures (agency, strat up, scale up, major accounts, freelance…) to cover a broad spectrum.
2️⃣ Prepare 2 types of interview
As mentioned above, it’s interesting to talk to both customers and people who may never have heard of your brand. This is why you need to prepare two different question frames.
For interviews with non-customers:
- His/her background, location, profession
- Their day-to-day challenges and needs
- Stack of tools
- Information consumption habits
For interviews conducted with customers or former customers, it’s a good idea to steer the conversation toward your product or service in the second part of the interview. The aim is to understand, for example, what led them to choose or leave us, the competing products and services they use, and their advantages and disadvantages..
Please note that interviews should last no longer than 45 minutes. Beyond that, it may be difficult to convince your interviewees to give you the time you need.
Some highly solicited targets won’t respond favorably to your interview request. Offer them an alternative with an online questionnaire. This will enable you to obtain quantitative data that will enrich your knowledge.
3️⃣ Create an online calendar for appointments
You’re going to contact a large number of people to obtain the desired number of interviews. Making appointments can be time-consuming. To help you make appointments, use an online scheduling tool like Calendly or Google Calendar. This way, your targets will be able to take the slots that suit them best, so they’ll be in good condition on D-Day.
Make sure you keep your professional agenda (internal meetings and other gatherings) up to date. And don’t forget to leave time after each interview, in case the interview stretches out or you simply want to take a short break between two meetings.
4️⃣ Contact your targets on LinkedIn
- Your target audience (hello segmentation): ✅
- Question frames and other quantitative questionnaires: ✅
- Your online agenda: ✅
Now you’re ready to start your search for interviewees! If you operate in a B2B market, LinkedIn is your best friend. It’s a huge information base for getting in touch with professionals.
Contacting personae on LinkedIn can be a time-consuming process, requiring time for research and follow-up. That’s why it’s a good idea to automate the process by creating personalized campaigns based on the target persona.
It’s important to segment and select the people you want to question. This will enable you to create as many campaigns as there are hypotheses to validate.
Expert advice 🧠
To make your life easier and save time, it’s smart to use a multi-channel sales automation tool like La Growth Machine coupled with Sales Navigator. This type of solution will enable you to
- Build lists of people to be contacted according to their profile
- Enrich their contact data
- Automatically contact these people on LinkedIn and by email
- Manage different conversations from a single messaging system
With the right segmentation, you can launch campaigns on :
- Your current customers
- Former customers
- Non-customer profiles (or those who are customers of a competitor)
PS: The finer your segmentation, the easier it will be for you to draft the different messages in your campaign (A LinkedIn invitation note, DM, emails…).
This is what we did at La Growth Machine when we created our personae. We’ve documented our approach and the sequence used in this article to give you an example.
5️⃣ Interviewing personas
You’ve launched your sequences and obtained your first interviews. Now it’s time to get started. First interviews are always intimidating, but remember one thing: you’re there for an exchange, not a sale!
To make the discussion as fluid as possible, without missing a beat, record the interviews. You can use an automatic transcription solution to keep an accurate record of the conversation. Of course, ask your interviewer’s permission before pressing the record button.
Every word spoken is important. It gives an indication of the person’s vocabulary and the terms he or she is accustomed to using. That’s why word-by-word transcription is so important. It’s a great way to improve your messages.
Expert advice 🧠
People love to talk about themselves and their daily lives!
In this exercise, active listening is your most important asset. Make sure you let your interviewees speak for themselves.
Don’t fixate on your form like it’s some line of questioning, let yourself be carried along by the conversation. It’s an exchange, not an interrogation! 🙂
4- Draw up the ideal persona profile
Once you’ve gathered all the necessary information on your personas through your interviews and in-depth surveys, the next step is to create the ideal robot portrait of your persona.
1️⃣ Centralize your data:
To begin with, gather all the information you’ve obtained from your interviews. Data management tools like Notion come in handy for documenting the process of creating your personae. You can create a summary table where each line corresponds to an interview with a specific persona. This organization will enable you to easily visualize all the interviews conducted. You can also filter by persona and by customers, former customers, or prospects.
2️⃣ Read each persona interview carefully:
Once you’ve gathered your data, take the time to carefully reread all the interviews associated with the same persona. The aim here is to identify trends and frequently recurring information. Identify keywords, recurring motivations, needs, challenges and specific characteristics that emerge consistently.
Candice’s tip 🤓
My little trick: highlight the elements that recur regularly in interviews with the same persona. It’s a visual way of showing how important an insight is.
3️⃣ Draw up a persona profile:
By gathering the elements frequently mentioned in interviews, you’ll be able to create a detailed and accurate profile of your persona.
You can give your persona a first and last name, as well as a detailed profile:
- Job title
- Career path
- Hierarchical level: operational or managerial
- Objectives and motivations
- Difficulties and needs
- His/her work tools
- Information channels
You can even add a “Why us VS not us” section. Based on your discussions with the persona and the benefits and weaknesses of your product, you’ll be able to pinpoint the elements that will either convince your target or drive them away.
Expert advice 🧠
It’s important to have visually pleasing personae sheets. Careful presentation makes the information more digestible for your teammates. But be sure to use a format that can be easily modified, so that you can update it regularly.
The Notion tool makes it easy to create personae sheets.
There’s always an element of subjectivity in the persona file, since we combine the various interviews to create a fictitious file. Don’t hesitate to add two or three links to the persona interviews you’ve conducted, to anchor it in reality.
5- Identify where your personae are located
So far, you’ve studied your customers’ data, chosen a few personae to focus on, and conducted interviews with targets from different structures. So, little by little, you’ve got an idea of the ICP (Ideal customer profile: start-up, scale-up, major account, agency, law firm…) that matches or doesn’t match your targets.
Now it’s time to make your choices:
- Which personas will I target in the startup? What about the scale-up?
- Is there another way of targeting them? Cross-sell?
- What is their level of maturity?
Candice’s tip 🤓
Place your different personas in a visual table to identify at a glance the personas to target in each structure. Presenting them in a table makes them easier to understand for all the company’s stakeholders.
6- Communicate personae internally
Making personae is good, but the risk is not using them. Sharing and communicating personae internally on a regular basis is therefore essential to align the various departments.
By circulating them throughout the company, you ensure that each team (marketing, product, sales, or customer service) clearly understands who your personae are, what they’re looking for, what motivates them, and what their challenges are.
The creation of personae will either confirm past choices or overturn them, leading to a change of direction.
It’s important to make sure that everyone in the company understands and adheres to the personae, so as to implement relevant actions that contribute to the defined objectives.
7- Regularly update your personae
Creating personae is a crucial step in understanding your target customers. But just like your customers, they are not static and evolve over time. Make sure you communicate regularly with your personae, so you can react quickly to any changes in needs or behavior..
Candice’s tip 🤓
It will be less costly in terms of time and energy devoted to personae to reserve a few slots in your calendar each month. These 3 or 4 virtual coffees will enable you to stay in touch with your target audience and quickly identify new opportunities.
Finally, your personae may differ from one country to another due to cultural differences. For an effective marketing strategy, it’s essential to create personae specific to each geographical market you’re targeting.
8- Use your personae as a daily tool!
If you’ve followed all the persona-building steps outlined in this article, then congratulations! You’ve certainly got your personae down pat 😉 It would be a shame not to use them..
These personae are the foundation of your marketing strategy. This hard work will enable you to position your product or service and deliver the right messages.
We often talk about the importance of segmentation or targeting in marketing. Your personas will give you the right approach to adopt in terms of :
- Message delivery
Taking the time to think this through will make you more effective later on. I promise you won’t regret it.
Building personas with La Growth Machine
As I said earlier, contacting personae can be time-consuming. You don’t always know where to start. In the context of a B2B product/service, LinkedIn has a huge pool of professionals to interview.
La Growth Machine can help you contact them quickly and easily: