Last month, I wrote about why your business needs a client persona. In a nutshell, if you don’t know who exactly you’re aiming your marketing efforts at, there’s a good chance you’re going to do it wrong.

And a general segment of the population just isn’t specific enough - you need that one named person who you can picture in your head every time you’re wondering whether a tweet or a blog post or a newsletter or a sales page is relevant to your target audience.

I’ll just add a quick caveat here. You can have more than one client persona. For example, I know of a small chain of cafes that has about half a dozen different of them to represent the various types of guest they attract: parents having coffee, business people having meetings, friends having after work drinks and so on. But they have still narrowed each group down to one individual representative who has a name and age, hopes and fears.

Creating a client persona isn’t difficult, but it does take a bit of thought and you’ll need to follow a few steps to make sure you’ve covered everything.

Start with the demographics

If you’re already trading, a good starting point is to go through your client database and look for trends. If not, you’ll need to work out these points using a combination of educated guesswork and possibly some secondary data (e.g. if you have a close competitor, think about who their clients are).

For each persona you make, decide on:

  • Gender: Yes, most people work with men and women… but is there one that’s more likely to pick you, or who you prefer working with?
  • Name: Are you working with Nigel or Tarquin? Sarah or Valentina? Richard Smith, Ricky Smith or Professor Dick Smith?
  • Age: Don’t be tempted to give a bracket here, it’s important to be specific.
  • Location: Bristol or Hong Kong? Redland or Stokes Croft? Bachelor pad or family home? Own home or rented?
  • Job: This tells you all sorts of things, from rough income level (important for B2C brands) and decision making ability (vital for B2B brands), to potential interests, challenges and needs.
  • Family: Relationship status and children are an important part of your client persona.

What do they care about?

Now you’re getting into the swing of it, so let’s get a bit more creative. Have a think about:

  • What newspapers and magazines they read
  • How often and where they go on holiday
  • What car they drive
  • Which hobbies they enjoy
  • What political party they support
  • Which charities they donate to

Get the idea? Not all of these things will be especially relevant to the product or service you’re hoping to pitch to this person, but if you’ve put enough thought into who they are then it shouldn’t be that hard to come up with some answers.

A note on psychographics

Psychographics is the classification of people according to their attitudes and aspirations. Lots of different people visit National Trust properties, for example, but it’s safe to say they all appreciate history and/or the natural world.

Take some time to think about what your answers to the last two sections might reveal about the inner workings of your customer or client. For example, if you’ve said they drive a Jaguar, is that because they enjoy the status or they value quality? If they live in an expensive part of town, is it because they’re snobs or they desperately wanted their children to go to a great school?

Hopes and fears

Now you can come to the part that will most help you in your marketing efforts. Understand your customer or client’s hopes and goals and you’re can explain how your brand will help achieve them. Know what their fears and pain points are, and you can demonstrate how your product or service will alleviate them.

Think about:

  • What is their biggest goal?
  • What keeps them awake at night?
  • What would they do if they won the lottery?
  • What do they most struggle with at work?
  • What would make them pop the champagne?
  • What is their pet peeve?
  • What would their dream day look like?

Once you’re finished

Before you sit back and celebrate having successfully completed your client persona, it’s really important to test your assumptions. This tool is only helpful if it’s a genuine representation of your target audience, so do some market research to find out more. Don’t be afraid to adapt and change your first draft persona, or scrap it all together.

You might also find that it needs changing over time, as your brand grows and evolves. This is a working document, so come back to it often and keep checking it’s the right fit. Most importantly, use it! Use it every time you do any kind of marketing (or anything else, for that matter).

Finally, for bonus points, consider writing an anti-client persona to clarify who you don’t want to work with. It will help you spot the time wasters, which in turn will keep you focused on the best leads - in other words, those people who most closely resemble your client persona.

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