Personas – A common language for audience centered communication

Personas – A common language for audience centered communication

“Hello, I’m Chris, 28 years old and I’m a Persona!” You probably won’t hear that sentence during your next campaign meeting, but Personas have found their way into marketing and communications departments. What’s it all about? Is this just another buzz word? Our Managing Director in Munich, Björn Köster tells us all about it in this post.

 

A Persona is a fictional person that represents a certain consumer group. It’s based on data with a dash of fictional biographies to bring it to life. There might be a certain level of exaggeration or stereotyped elements to make it more vivid and fun to work with. It’s a common ground for marketers and a simplification of in-depth studies and attributes. “How would Chris engage with this Facebook post” is a lot easier than “What would the ‘20-30-year-old males, low income, fun-oriented and active on social’ think about this Facebook post”, right?

The idea was originally formed within the software development industry in the 1990s, where design and development teams picked up requirements of these fictional characters and created interfaces in order to test their software in usage scenarios. Nowadays, marketers deal with terabytes of data. There is a certain need for simplification to make profound decisions out of “big data”. Especially in the age of empowered and demanding consumers, a unified message across all potential touchpoints is essential and brings internal structural challenges to many companies…which is why the idea of Personas has become increasingly popular over the last years.

There is no golden rule for developing Personas. Our experience shows it’s best to start simple and enrich/optimize them on an on-going basis. If you have established consumer segments, you have a head-start. Otherwise, Persona projects begin with either a workshop with stakeholders or data segmentation. Focus groups and online surveys help to get a better understanding of the segments and provide a vivid picture for the Persona. Social Monitoring, Relevant Web and Search / Linguistic analysis are typical elements that are used. Once all data is gathered, it’s time to get creative and write a biography for each segment. This includes elements and potential touchpoints with your brands or competitors, but also statements and behaviors that are not directly related to your industry.

chris-core-horror-fan

Photo 1: Exemplary Persona – Chris, Core Horror Fan

For example, if you are in the movie industry, a Persona should most definitely include favourite genres, preferred cinema types and the customer journey, but it should also include elements such as what he does in his spare-time, if he has pets or how a typical day looks. To finish the Persona, you will have to find a significant photo and a name. That’s when the consumer segment comes to live. Take into consideration the markets you’re working in; if your persona is going to be applied to multiple markets, ensure the name and image is relatable to audiences across territories.

The more comfortable you are with your Persona, the more it’ll become an integral part of your everyday meetings and decisions. Up to the point, where it feels like, Chris – The Core Horror Fan – is sitting with his chainsaw next to you in your meeting.


You like to hear more? Feel free to connect with Bjoern