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Frans Riemersma, 26 Nov '15

7 Things Persona Templates Tell You to Fill Out

What are the common elements of Persona templates? Our research shows there are 7 key items.

Marketers are discovering the power of Personas. Personas help to structure and improve customer experiences, making it a powerful tool. Surprisingly, only 15% of B2B marketers consider themselves “very effective at Persona marketing”. A good view on what Persona’s contents look like will help to get to grips with this topic. There are many templates available, but what are the common elements of Persona templates? Our research shows there are 7 key items.

Do you believe you know your customers well enough? How do you find out about their pains, frustrations and reasons to buy? Harvard Business Review warns you, just putting yourself in the customer’s shoes isn’t enough. “The more empathetic managers are, the more they use their personal preferences to predict what customers want”. As a result, empathetic marketers tend to ignore valuable market data. Making marketers aware of this so-called ‘egocentric’ flaw is the anti-dote.

According to Hubspot, “The strongest buyer personas are based on market research as well as on insights you gather from your actual customer base (through surveys, interviews, etc.).” In the process of shaping Personas, balancing the use of hard data and soft skills is key.

The end result is a fictional, generalized representation of your typical customer. This representation helps to improve customer experience in many respects, from writing better content to creating better user experiences.

Persona templates are helpful checklists

If you intend to write a Persona offhand, you might end up staring at a blank piece of paper. Describing Personas is much easier using Persona Templates. The advantage of a template is that it provides structure, and can come in handy as checklist too. Meanwhile, it still gives flexibility to note down whatever you require to make your Persona come alive.

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The challenge comes when you find out there are tons of templates available online. They all look ‘same, but different’. They all have different but comparable areas they want you to fill out. For that reason we took a long hard look at which specific areas Persona templates have in common. A kind of ‘Guide to Persona templates’.

What do Persona templates have in common?

We investigated 40+ of the Persona templates ranked highest in search engine results. All templates collectively mention in total 13 unique topics. Each Persona template covers one or more topics. As you can see, customer goals are included in 95% of the 40+ templates, and so on.

95% - Persona goals - concrete customer objectives.
86% - Persona demographics - customer age, place, role name.
84% - Persona pain - customer frustrations, concerns, barriers, challenges.
74% - Persona media & device preference - most used sources or devices.
65% - Persona image – photographic customer impression.
63% - Persona role & responsibility - customer reports to..., seniority on job.
58% - Persona biography - narrative of daily life or past events.
47% - Persona bio quotes - short description of motivations and traits.
40% - Persona motivations - narrative of abstract needs, ideals.
28% - Company information - industry, size, structure.
21% - Persona Personality - psychology, behavioral variables scale.
9% - Ideal customer experience - utopian objectives, ‘magic question’.
7% - Favorite brands - customer loyalty to brands.

What are the most popular Persona template topics?

Based on this list you can start writing your Persona. Personally, I would go ‘crowdsourcing-style’ and pick the first 7 topics. Each of these 7 topics show up in more than half of the Persona templates. The list elements are ranked according to popularity.

1. Persona goals - Specify the state that would make the customer successful or satisfied. Focus on the situation where your proposition might be useful.

  • What concrete objective(s) is your customer trying to achieve?
  • What is the situation in which the customer is trying to achieve those objectives?
  • How would your proposition make the customer successful in that situation?

2. Persona demographics - Specify the ‘dry’ context of the customer relevant for the situation. For example.

  • What is the age and gender?
  • What is the job title, education, career path, industry?
  • What is the family background, size, age range?

3. Persona pain – What is the concrete situational customer pain?

  • What barriers are blocking the customer from becoming satisfied or successful?
  • What challenges does the customer need to overcome to be satisfied or successful?
  • What customer frustrations or concerns should you address?

4. Persona Media & Device preference – Related to the situation, specify the sources and devices the customer would use.

  • What is the trigger to consult the favorite information sources or devices?
  • What are the favorite information sources or devices in the specific situation?
  • When is the preferred media consumption moment during the day, week or year?

5. Persona image – Give the Persona a face and a typical, representative appearance.

  • Which characteristics does the Persona have?
  • How would someone recognize the Persona from physical appearance alone?
  • How would someone recognize the Persona in terms of language or keywords?

6. Persona role & responsibility – Specify the role of the Persona in daily life.

  • Who does the Persona report to?
  • What is the Persona’s seniority on the job, how many years of experience, and what is its level of engagement?
  • Which tasks and responsibilities come with the Persona’s role?[

7. Persona biography - Write a narrative of the Persona’s daily life.

  • What does the Persona’s daily life look like?
  • Who does the Persona talk to, listen to, meet or avoid?
  • What does a ‘day in the life’ of the Persona look like when needing your proposition?

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