Over the past couple of years, one of the things I have found when working with most business owners is that they do not have any idea who their target customer or client is. A user persona is just a fancy web industry way of saying you have defined many of the characteristics or demographics of your target client.
In other words, more than likely you cannot market your product or service to everyone so you need to spend the time defining who it is that you want to sell to.
When we build out user personas some of what we define is the following:
- What is the person’s name?
- What do they look like?
- Are they male or female?
- Are they in a certain age range?
- Are they part of some minority group?
- What interests them?
- Do they make a certain amount of money?
- Where do they hang out online?
- Where do they hang out in the real world?
- Are they part of any organizations?
- Do they have any special skills or talents?
This list could go on and on but I think you get the idea. Defining the items above should happen before you even get started on things like branding or advertising. It shapes everything about the business.
Think of a clothing retailer...
If I ask you who the target audience is for J. Crew you probably conjure up images of someone that dresses fairly conservatively. They are going to be predominantly white and upper middle class. They could be male or female since J. Crew caters to both. They are definitely someone that works in a professional environment. They care how they dress. They are probably 25-45 years in age and have incomes in excess of 100k.
Contrast that with H&M. H&M caters to a younger crowd. The age range is probably 15-25. They are targeting an ethnically diverse audience. Their shoppers have an interest in fashion and music. They do not typically have lot of money nor do they want to spend a lot of money on clothing. They like deals on clothing because they change their style frequently based on what is in at the time. They wear the clothing at H&M to make a statement.
In defining their User Personas both of these companies have made decisions about their branding, the design of their stores, the products they sell, the price point they will sell them at, and more.
What they have also decided is how they will advertise to their target demographic. If you look at the image above you will see that if you go down this path social media platforms want all of this information as well. The above screenshot shows some of the information Facebook asks for when building an audience. In order to get your ads in front of the right people, they want to know all of the above so they can hone in on people that will respond and engage with your content.
So, if you are a business owner, take time to write down your user personas. You are not saying that you will not do business with people outside of that defined group. You are just giving yourself some guidelines by which to operate in both your branding, your brand experience, and your advertising.