6 Tips for Conducting Persona Development Research

Barb Dittert

Whether you own a business or serve as the marketing guru of someone else’s, your is mission simple: get everyone to purchase your products and/or services.

Well, maybe it’s not that simple. And maybe you shouldn’t really be marketing to EVERYONE. Before you start promoting your business willy-nilly to the whole world, it’s wise to narrow the focus to people who are actually interested in what you offer.

So this begs the question, how are you supposed to know who is actually interested in what you offer? Through a little thing we like to call “Persona Development.”

Let’s begin!

Why Persona Development?

“Why persona development,” you ask? Read on!

Target the RIGHT audience. Let’s face it, not everyone in the world has a need for what you provide. But there are plenty who do! A well thought our persona development strategy will help you find those people.

Convert INTERESTED customers into business. It’s much easier to get someone to spend their money on your product or service if they are already interested.

Think like your customer. When you can get inside your customer’s heads, you can start to figure out what they are willing to spend their money on and how you can plan accordingly.

Where Do I Start?

First, we’ll tell you where NOT to start. And that is by just randomly making some personas up.

All too often, people make assumptions on as to whom their customers are. While some of your guesstimates might actually be true, it’s better to verify. And who knows, you might discover a potential customer base you never knew existed!

These research tools will help you discover who your customers are, and what they want from you:

Search Engine Analytics & Webmaster Tools
Both Google and Bing provide analytics data to help you identify all sorts of information. Not only can you see how often your site is visited, you can more detailed information such as what devices people are using to visit your site, and even the uses’ ages and locations. Keeping track of changes you see will help you see what is working, what is not working, and trends that can help guide your marketing strategy.

Online Reviews
Pay attention to what Yelp!, Angie’s List, and Google+ Local users have to say. Not only will you have a better idea of what the public is saying, you will also attain a wealth of information about the public itself.

For example, if you have a Google+ profile and someone leaves a review on your business profile page, you gain access to their reviews of other businesses. This gives you invaluable information as to who your competitors are, and what they are doing well (or not so well).

Social Media
Examining the social profiles of your Facebook fans, Twitter followers and members of your Google+ circle gives you instantaneous access to your users’ personalities, lifestyles, occupations and interests. Use this information to your advantage!

Current Customers
Business owners with actual storefronts are at a unique advantage to catering to their customer base. While online businesses depend on interpreted data, brick and mortar businesses  have their customers right there, in the flesh. Spend time interviewing your regulars, or even go as far as to have an open house. Not only will you build relationships, you’ll be gathering priceless information that could prove vital to the future of your business.

Customer Surveys
Customer surveys will help you understand your current clients; what keeps them loyal, what drives them to purchase, and trends that you can apply toward targeting new customers. Much like an interview, you will get valuable information straight from the horse’s mouth. An added bonus is that anonymity empowers people to speak more freely. If creating your own survey is just too big a task to tackle, companies such as Netpromoter can handle all the dirty work for you.

The power of a good ol’ fashioned brainstorming session is something that can’t be understated. Setting a goal, giving participants a background and a purpose for the session, and operating under the philosophy that all ideas are valid will help set you on the path to brainstorming brilliance.

What Do You Do With All This Information?

So you did the work. You organized all your data and put it into pretty little spreadsheets. Now what?

Now it’s time to make the persona research work for you. Start identifying trends you see. Or trends you thought were there, but weren’t. Read this blog that my co-worker and friend, Drew Horst, Esq. wrote on why persona development matters in the first place. soon!