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Personas: Questions & Answers

Many of our clients have questions about data-based personas. We have answered the 10 most common ones: In our Persona FAQ.

Why work with personas? 

Personas help you to get to know your customers, their wishes, needs and problems better and to align company processes with them. Personas make customer centricity possible in the first place. Thanks to personas, sales also increase in the long term, as marketing measures are planned and placed in a more target group-oriented manner - and wastage is greatly reduced. A study by Marketing Sherpa shows that sales generated by marketing alone can be increased by up to 171% with the help of data-based personas. At the same time, personas save costs, as products or communication measures are no longer developed without the customer in mind. Personas should therefore be part of every corporate strategy - whether for product development, customer service, marketing, recruiting or content creation.

What is a persona?

A persona is a stereotypical representative of a target group. This is an ideal-typical customer or buyer who represents a target group. To obtain a realistic persona, it must be based on real data and information about the target group. This is called data-driven persona.

Each persona gets a profile - the so-called persona-sedcard (also persona-profile). There, names, age and place of residence character traits, characteristics, interests, attitudes and consumption habits are described. This makes the persona seem more alive and like a real person compared to the usual target group description. In this way, all employees in a company can imagine the persona and the company can align its business processes with it. Personas therefore lead to more customer centricity.

How do I create a persona?

A persona must always be based on data. Therefore, it helps to first collect and organise all existing data on the target group: for example, from your own databases, from customer relationship management, customer service, web and social analytics or surveys. There may be gaps that need to be filled with further data - for example from representative studies, market media studies or similar. For example, you may know which gender and age group you want to address, but you cannot yet make any statements about which media this target group prefers to use. You are therefore still lacking data on media usage behaviour, e.g. in order to plan targeted advertising measures. You can obtain missing data, for example, through surveys by opinion research institutes, market research studies, public institutions, e.g. the Federal Statistical Office, websites, e.g. Statista, or through your own surveys and analyses.

In a second step, you formulate the persona-sedcard in the form of a profile based on the collected data. The personas are now ready for use, should be introduced in the company and then evaluated and updated regularly - at least once a year.

Why should a persona be data-based? 

If personas are only based on assumptions and presumptions instead of data, this can lead to wrong results. In the worst case, you will then develop your communication measures past the customer because you do not know the actual target group at all. After all, data is necessary to create a concrete picture of the target group. In this way you can find out what basic attitude your customers have, which products they particularly like to buy and why, which problems arise in everyday life and how they can be solved, which features are particularly important to them in a product and where they would like to be addressed particularly actively, e.g. through advertising measures. An example: Maybe you think that your customers are mainly active on Facebook and wonder about the lack of success of ad campaigns. With the help of media usage data, you then find out that your persona uses Instagram much more frequently and can only place much more targeted ads there - with greater chances of success.

How many personas do I need? 

Since each persona should be representative of a target group, it can be said that a persona is needed for each target group. However, you should always keep in mind that all target groups for which you create a persona should offer real added value to the company. If you have a limited (time) budget, we therefore recommend focusing on customer types that are particularly central to the company's success. Another rule of thumb is: Personas should cover about 80 percent of the desired customers.

Experience shows that companies do not need more than three personas per product.

What must a persona contain? 

A persona should contain all relevant data that you have or have acquired about the target group. Your persona should be able to answer the following key questions:

  • Who are your customers?
  • What is important to them?
  • What challenges do your customers face?
  • How do you support your customers in this?
  • Where do your customers buy or how do they decide to buy something?
  • Why do customers (not) buy your products?
  • What is the final purchase decision based on?

At best, you should write down all known data in a persona profile or sedcard. Relevant data for this can be: Name, age, education, profession, marital status, place of residence, living situation, personality and characteristics, interests and hobbies, attitudes, buying behaviour, media use, preferences, relationship to the company, etc.

Which data you would like to use depends on your individual use case. We will be happy to support you in creating a persona.

What is a Persona-Sedcard?

A persona-sedcard depicts the most important data and facts about a persona in the form of a profile. You can find sample personas here.

An alternative name for persona sedcard is persona profile. With the help of the sedcard, the viewer can see all the important information about the persona at a glance. In addition, the image and description make the persona appear less abstract and more like a real person. The persona sedcard should therefore convey the persona's attitude to life.

Persona-Sedcards can be created in different designs and, depending on the layout, put certain characteristics in the foreground.

What is a persona mood board?

Apart from the sedcard, the mood board is a good way to visualize a persona and its characteristics for other stakeholders. A mood board is a collage of graphics, photos, magazine covers, media logos and brands from the persona's life. A glance at the mood board allows you to immerse yourself in the persona's world. Feelings, emotions, needs, lifestyle and much more can be captured very easily and quickly.

What are Persona Templates? 

Persona templates are templates that are used to create a persona-sedcard. This is a specific layout in which information about the persona is entered. Persona templates can function as a simple template or digitally automated. In the latter case, you simply enter your data into an input mask and receive the finished persona at the end. The goal of persona templates: uniform-looking personas.

What tools help me to develop a persona? 

If you have already collected data, tools that contain suitable persona templates could help you. You can then assemble attractive sedcards from the data. Such tools are e.g. Make my Persona, Xtensio or Userforge. In addition, some providers offer additional bonuses, e.g. tools such as Smaply and Uxpressia also help with the creation of a customer journey map based on personas. The programme LeanScope, on the other hand, lets you integrate your persona-sedcards directly into presentations or print them out as posters.

If you want to invest less time in data research, you can use tools that do all or part of the research for you. Here we recommend, for example, our Persona Profiler with data from more than 1 million interviews from over 12 countries or Delve.ai with data from Google Analytics.

What is the difference between personas, target groups and segments?

Market segments are individual subsets of an entire market. The entire market of all customers and potential customers is thus broken down into smaller units - such a unit is then called a segment.

The target group, on the other hand, refers to all customers who are to receive communication measures. These are current buyers, potential customers and decision-makers, e.g. opinion leaders or reference persons. In the case of baby products, for example, the target group also includes parents.

Personas, on the other hand, are representative of target groups. They represent a stereotype that is supposed to represent a target group. Personas are much more specific than target groups and market segments. They are meant to make the target group tangible and alive.

The most important differences: We need market segments to plan marketing instruments, target groups are used to plan communication measures, and personas are used to specifically address target groups in all company processes. Personas also think from the consumer or customer perspective ("bottom-up principle"), while target groups and market segments approach the customer from the company's point of view ("top-down principle").

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