Whether you call them customer personas, buyer personas, visitor personas or avatars, we marketers are broadly in agreement that understanding your ideal customer through an avatar is a spankingly good idea.
To clear up any terminology issues, I am in the “avatar = ideal customer, who can be made up of lots of different personas” camp. And a persona is someone who has an issue or problem that your organisation can help with.
Most companies are aware now that trying to market to anyone of any sex, between 18 and 80, across the whole planet, is too broad a target.
You’ll struggle to find messages that resonate across that demographic. So, we break them down into more recognisable personas, and choose one as our primary avatar.
But there is an art to this. You can go online and watch a one hour YouTube video on this (or several shorter ones). But how important should it be to spend some time thinking about your potential customers?
We’ve been doing quite a lot of it recently and it is really paying dividends.
Six Top Tips for Choosing a Great Persona Course
So, what makes a good buyer persona course, and why should anyone consider investing in one?
Recently, we ran the first of our three day, in-depth courses on building your customer avatar. I took the course and was really blown away by the amount of work that was needed.
By the end of the week I needed a lie down in a dark room with a gin and tonic. As I reflected on what we had been doing I realised what an important piece of work it was, and how ideally we should spend more time working on our personas.
From what I learned and the client feedback, these are the things to bear in mind if you are considering a similar course:
1. Get away if you can
Being able to take time away from the office was invaluable for our attendees. Give yourself the time to get away and give yourself some head space.
A training course like this takes a good deal of sometimes quite deep thinking. You can’t always do that if you are sat at your desk with the inevitable interruptions.
We also found that people outside of your organisation can come up with some excellent insights for what you offer, as they have a different perspective from outside the business.
2. Make sure you have completely covered ‘You’
The first part of the course was the easier part: thinking about our businesses, what the key features, and benefits of our products and services are. But we took a further step to consider the corresponding emotional gains and pains that our customers experience with or without these benefits.
Although this is a relatively easy part, everyone on the course agreed that they had never done this. Not just for products or services, but also for their businesses.
Make sure that any course you sign up to will wring out all your thoughts about everything that your organisation can do to help your customers.
3. Give yourself enough time to consider this
Although our three day course finished at 2:30pm officially, most people stayed longer to get the work finished before the next day.
Thinking about what you offer and who you offer it to is a really important part of your marketing. Substantial marketing budget is spent each year sending messages to potential clients – we should be allocating enough quality time to focus on who those messages are for, and how we can make them more relevant for our audiences.
4. Look at the outcomes
The course was built beautifully so that on the last day we used a simple format to write excellent copy for emails, web pages or in fact any content.
We simply took the work that we had done through the first few days and combined it (using a series of really simple formulae) to produce powerful copy that worked effortlessly.
The copy worked not just on a logical level, where most marketers write copy, but on an emotional level – where most of our customers do their decision making.
Another outcome of the course for us as a business was a realisation that the most important persona for us is actually an influencer rather than the decision maker.
Managing Directors may make the final decision in deciding to use an agency like us for their marketing, but the person building the case for using an agency like ours should be the marketing manager. So, we have refocused our content!
So, ask what the expected outcomes are from any persona course – will it give you tools to write amazing copy for each of your personas?
5. Not just Demographics, but Psychographics too
We all know that when we think about personas or avatars we need to consider demographics. What is the age range or our persona, are they married, do they have children, what was their education like?
To really understand a persona, we also need to look at the things that make them tick - their psychographics.
What are psychographics? Their traits, fears and frustrations; their self-image and aspirations; how they see themselves. We looked at what they want and what they want to avoid.
Whilst demographics tell us a little bit about who our potential customers are, psychographics are more powerful.
They tell us what motivates our personas. This gives us a much better insight into their world, and therefore a much better idea of how to write content that will move them.
Check that any course you consider spends sufficient time on psychographics!
6. Do you get a Bonus?
I love a bonus, who doesn’t?
On this course we had enough time to look at a great way of evaluating a proposed campaign.
What pains, fears, mistakes or aspirations will our campaign touch, and are these urgent and important enough for our target market to respond to?
Using the bonus tool, if the answer is no, then we need to review that campaign and think again. But at least we haven’t wasted time and resource on building something ineffective.
I hope that helps in choosing a persona course.
If you'd like some help with creating personas you can download our free guide below.