Enlightened personas: Fight for the User!


Be like Tron! Fight for the users!

We have talked about creating personas in a previous post.

Personas are a good way to prevent making the dreaded ego-driven website – a website that you love, but that does nothing for your customer. Personas are stand-ins for the main users of your product.

I was inspired by an article by Bryan Eisenberg, “Content Marketing Personas,” and I wanted to share some of his thoughts with you as we expand the discussion on putting yourself into the shoes of your average customers.

It is hard sometimes to look beyond what you think is the best way to design a website or to run a Facebook page.  That is why so many projects fall prey to the personal preferences of the boss or are “committeed” to death.

Ask yourself the hard questions

Once you have created your personas, you need to evaluate your websites and social media outlets and ask some questions.  I will quote Eisenberg directly here:

“Ask yourself and be honest:

  1. How is this ad/landing page/blog post/tweet relevant to this persona? What does this term mean specifically for them?
  2. How have you framed why they should buy from you and what value do you bring to this persona to solve their specific needs and problems?
  3. How have you helped this persona decide what action they need to take and how have you given them the confidence to take that action?”

This is the time when you have to fight for the users. What the customer likes is what matters – not what you like or what your boss likes. It is up to you to find out what that is. Careful research into keywords and web analytics will give you insight into who is coming to your site and what they are looking for.

What about your Facebook page? Is it engaging customers? Are you paying attention to what they do and don’t like? Have you looked at Facebook Insights to see the demographics of your fans?

It takes a little homework, more than saying “I like this website, so it is good.” However, personas can make a little work go a long way.

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Selling your ideas


Always Be Selling – Your Ideas! Talk them up whenever and wherever you can!

As you attempt to move your business forward, creating new social media avenues and improving your website, there are usually going to be several people you will need to convince that the project is worth doing.  That may be the big boss, the people in marketing or whoever controls the money. This is when your online success depends more on politics than on creative vision.

It is almost inevitable that you will meet some resistance.  There is at least one guy at your company who still thinks TV buys and press releases will get the job done.  However, it is time for your company to move forward and to break the shackles of the old rules of marketing.

Arm yourself with information before you try to sell your ideas!

Here are some thoughts on what to do when it is time to start convincing others that your ideas are the right ones.

  • Arm yourself with information. The naysayers will try to find reasons not to change things, so you have to convince them that things need changing.  I have found that most company decisions are made based on the whims of the decision makers, and rarely on any sort of measurements. Web analytics will give you a ton of insight into your company. You will have hard data about what kinds of people are coming to your website, where they are coming from and what they like to see.
  • Present the information in a dynamic way.  Be ready with a PowerPoint, but not a typical PowerPoint presentation. This should include images that convey feeling – Who is the customer? What will your new approach do for them? How will this help the company? Don’t use a bunch of wordy slides, use sparse text and plenty of imagery.  DO NOT READ OFF OF YOUR SLIDES!!!
  • Know your customers. Have some personas created in advance. Show the crowd that you know who you’re company is selling to. I know it sounds crazy, but many people have not thought out their target market beyond “the general public.”
  • Don’t hide your ideas. People often keep their good ideas under wraps.  Make sure you talk about your ideas as often as you can and to many different parties.  Start the movement from the ground up. Again, being prepared with facts and figures will help other buy in to your argument.

These are a few thoughts for today.  There are still a lot more factors to consider – like dealing with the naysayers – but the road to changing your company’s culture starts with you.  Don’t miss your opportunity!

Creating personas – Identifying your customer


Example of a user persona.

Figure 1 – example of a user/customer persona. Click for larger image.
I found this image at http://asinthecity.com/2011/05/13/explaining-personas-used-in-ux-design-%E2%80%93-part-2/

To thine own customer be true! Building a successful website or social media platform begins with understanding who your customer is.

This requires deeper thinking than “Our customer is people ages 18-65.” It requires a detailed understanding of your customers’ demographics and – more importantly – their needs.

One place to start is by looking at the keyword searches in your Google Analytics – these are the words people are putting into search engines that lead them to your site.  This is a good opportunity to reflect – what kind of customers would these search terms apply to?

Also, take a good look, if you can, at who is buying.  Who is coming into the store?  Are there any similarities you are noticing about customers? Are they high-income? How old are they? Is it primarily men or women?

Personas

Think about your biggest target market groups, then set about creating  persona for each of these groups.

In this article, Tina Calabria notes that “Personas enable intranet and website teams to stand in their users’ shoes. They focus the design effort on supporting user goals, rather than being driven by the ideas of team members or senior executives.”

Personas identify the user motivations, expectations and goals responsible for driving online behavior, and bring users to life by giving them names, personalities and often a photo.

This process is spelled out further in this posting, from which I obtained the sample persona which you see in figure 1.

The payoff

Creating personas is a much less expensive and time-consuming way to define your ideal clients. As Beth Hayden notes in this article, 5 Ways Brands Use Pinterest To Authentically Connect.  She notes:

“Oreck (@oreck), maker of vacuum cleaners, air purifiers, and other small appliances, focuses on women as their ideal clients. Oreck marketers could potentially create a detailed ideal-client profile called “Suzy Homemaker,” and fill it in with details about where Suzy lives, whether she has kids or pets, and what her hobbies are. The U.S. Army (@usarmy) might have a few different profiles, including the young men and women they are looking to recruit, and members of the general public who are looking to support our troops.

“This exercise may seem silly to you, but don’t underestimate its importance. The more you know about the customers you’re trying to reach on Pinterest, the more successful you’ll be in connecting with them via your marketing efforts.”

What are your thoughts on using personas to get to know your target audience?