It’s time to use personas to grow organically

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Meet Determined Dotty: Dotty started her business from the ground up and is determined to create a splash and make a name for herself. She delves into different but complementary businesses both locally and regionally. Dotty may be short on education but long on relation building. She is real fun to be around!

Do you know someone like Dotty? I am sure you do; maybe more than one. Determined Dotty is one persona among six in my target segment. Why is this important for you? Well, if you are marketing a product or service, and you know that Determined Dotty would be a great target, you will design your services around her need to build more relations, thereby turning her into a raving fan.

My market segment is that of Small and Medium-Sided Enterprise (SME) bosses. Yet, when you look at that segment, you will realize that there are a myriad different personalities and characteristics. A one-size fits all approach to marketing and product development will miss more of them than hit. This is because we are not cued in to the nuances of the different people within the segment. When you are looking for new segments to build your business organically, it may be useful to start by segmenting your market segment even more finely; and personas help you to do just that.

What is a persona?

A persona is a composite description of a subset of people within the market segment. The persona does not describe one person; it is sufficiently granular to include several different people in the group, yet is detailed enough to uncover specific needs distinct from other groups in the segment.

Contrast Determined Dotty with Quiet Queenie; Queenie is the quintessential lady solopreneur who has one product or line and plugs away in an unassuming fashion. She uses her personal network to grow her business but because the main household income is brought in by her husband, Queenie doesn’t need to make huge inroads in terms of business. Her quiet behaviour belies her education.

When you put the personas of both Determined Dotty and Quiet Queenie side by side, you will appreciate the contrasting difference between the two and the differing needs of both personas. Yet both Determined Dotty and Quiet Queenie belong to the same SME boss segment.

How do you build a persona?

Personas are built based on personality, behavior, values and lifestyle rather than demographics. These are known as psychographic factors. Hence you will not see age, level of income, education background or even postcode to describe a persona. The easiest way to build a persona is to do a two-by-two grid. Choose two of the most significant characteristics of the people within the segment to build the persona. For example, you could use the introvert-extrovert characteristic as one set, and the rational-emotional characteristic as another set. This sets up a 2x2 matrix, giving us 4 personas: an introverted-rational, an introverted-emotional, an extroverted-rational, and an extroverted-emotional. You will immediately see how differently each of these personas will relate to your product offering, and how you would have to vary the different aspects of your services to meet the needs of these personas. You might even decide not to serve a certain persona, simply because it might throw your whole marketing efforts awry.

Naming your personas

While there is no need to name personas, you make them less human by using the descriptor to name them. Hence by calling the introverted-emotional persona as “Worrying Wendy”, (we love alliterations, don’t we?) we can immediately wrap our mind around it and can identify people much faster than we use “introverted-emotional”.

Expanding your personas

Many businesses don’t just use two factors to create a set of personas. There may be four or five factors. This will certainly make the process more complex; but more accurate. When you use as many factors as these, you might like to use the morphological analysis method to compile all the possibilities, combining them in different ways to create all the personas. You can then whittle these down, discarding those that are obviously meaningless and coming in with 7 or 8 personas. You can then decide how best to connect with each persona, giving them what they need to pull them into your network.

Related: Morphing new ideas through morphological analysis

So, if you want to start growing organically, it is time to start working your personas.

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