Personas Describe Your Customers

Prospects and Customers are Individuals

As a writer, I’m always interested in my audience. Business people also need a clear understanding of their prospects and customers. Marketing pros often focus on demographic statistics, but those might not provide an integrated picture of prospects and customers as individuals.

One tool from the software development field that may be helpful is the written persona. Software developers want to understand the typical user, so that they can design an appropriate user interface and program functionality. Developers who use the Agile methodology often write personas about typical users.

Prospects and Customers as Fictional Characters

A persona is a brief, but detailed, description of a software user or, more generally, a typical prospect or customer. Think of the persona as a description of a fictional character. The persona doesn’t describe an actual person, but may incorporate the characteristics of many real people. Some of the characteristics that a persona might include are:

  • What’s her name, which could indicate generation or ethnicity?
  • What kind of work does she do, which could indicate income, education, and social status?
  • What concerns, needs, and desires might she have, that could be satisfied by or complementary to the products you offer?
  • Do you have a photo of an ideal prospect or typical satisfied customer? (Remember, we’re talking about a person, not a data set.)
  • Does your prospect or customer have any specific skills or knowledge that help her use or appreciate your product?
  • Does this persona use your product regularly or rarely?
  • Does this person consume your product or resell/provide it to a consumer?

Write Personas for Your Marketing Plan

Here’s an exercise for you; write three personas for prospects or customers of your business. Remember to keep them brief: 250 words or one double-spaced page should be enough.

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