Marketing Sales

How to Create Customer Personas: The Practical Guide to Getting Your Agency Right in the Onboarding Process


The practical guide for your agency to structure and apply a survey. Read on and find out how to create Personas for customers in 5 steps!

Identifying your client’s business personas is one of the main and first activities of an Inbound Marketing Project. It is from this that all the work unfolds more easily. In this process, it is understood who are those who purchase the products/services of the company you work for, how they got there, what motivated them, in which channels they are present and how to communicate with them.

The entire Content Marketing strategy is developed from the personas. After all, to know what to write to attract them to the site, convert them and nurture them, you need to know who you are talking to. Did you understand the importance?

The idea of ​​this article is to be didactic and show how you can and should identify, in a very practical way, your customer’s personas. It is even filled with examples to make it even easier to understand what is being discussed.

But, before getting down to business, it is worth recalling some concepts that are extremely important for the work.

Remembering: what is a persona?

We can understand persona as the representation, based on real data, of the ideal customer of a business. It is a model built from demographic, psychographic/behavioral data, motivations, desires and challenges/problems faced by people.

Personas are widely used to guide both your agency’s efforts in the Digital Marketing strategy and your client’s sales team. Thus, both teams are able to better direct their investments and contacts, as well as devise more efficient and accurate actions in the acquisition of Leads, nutrition and closing deals.

Target audience x persona

While (1) the target audience is more general, as it takes into account common data from a wide range of people, (2) persona goes deeper and brings personalized and, let’s say, humanized information that takes into account situations and facts of life of these people. We seek to understand a little more about their environment, what surrounds them, what pain, challenges and problems they face on a daily basis.

See an example:

  • Target audience: men and women, between 27 and 36 years old, single, graduated in administration, social class B. Seeking professional training;
  • Persona: Otávio is 29 years old, has a degree in administration and works for a medium-sized company. Aims to grow in his career and get a promotion in 2 years. He is researching postgraduate courses with classes on weekends in the city where he lives.

The concept of a target audience is more widespread and understood in companies. However, I suggest that in planning Digital Marketing for your client, mainly, you offer the identification of personas as a kick-off service.

The importance of identifying the business personas well

In this activity, one point should be clear: you can’t rely only on testimonials from your own customers about who the business personas are and, above all, what their pains and challenges are.

I’m not saying you should dismiss such insights. They are even part of the process. But understand that, in many cases, we are dependent on limited understanding. For example, an eCommerce owner of educational toys states that the challenge for his persona, a mother, is to choose the best toy for his 6-year-old son (a real situation that I myself experienced) .

It’s really not an easy task for a mother to decide whether to choose this or that toy. However, it is very important to find out what is the root of the problem or what really motivates you to look for a specific item. Some hypotheses in the case mentioned above:

Could it be because the child is not socializing with other children of the same age? Is he having learning difficulties at school? Perhaps the mother herself, because she works many hours a day, is unable to pay attention to her child and wants to have greater interactivity with him whenever possible?

In short, understanding these and other points — such as the profile characteristics — of personas, you:

  1. It develops content to attract people to the website/blog of its customers who are at the beginning of the Buying Journey (Learning and Discovery and Problem Recognition);
  2. It can work with a much larger number of people, as it generates a demand for the product later on — when exploring an opportunity or problem — instead of relating to a limited audience that already knows what to buy and/or knows your brand (materials funnel bottom);
  3. It nourishes Leads with more information, more educational content on the subject, in order to advance them to the moment of purchase, in which the solution/product is presented.

How to create personas and identify their pains and challenges

There is not much secrecy and escape right now. The way is to ask/talk to your client’s current and former customers – with positive and negative experiences – and current Lead base if any. With this in hand, you can come across the information already provided by the areas of marketing, sales and the company’s own management.

1st step: Define the type of search

There are numerous ways to do research. However, as the purpose of this article is to present practical actions, my suggestion is that you choose between (1) semi-structured interview or (2) questionnaire.

Although in the first one there is a set of pre-defined questions, the interviewer can explore with new questions in each situation, according to what has been provided so far. In the second model, there is a list of defined questions and there is no opening to insert new questions during the conversation.

Understand that choosing one or the other will depend on your staff limitations and financial resources. The semi-structured interview, for example, in addition to requiring a greater investment of time, requires the interviewer to have some knowledge of the subject/business model so that he can interpret the answers as well as the ability to bring up new questions that make sense and contribute to the result end of search.

Step 2: Define which questions

It varies from business to business, but in general, feel free to collect the following information:

  • Sex
  • Age
  • Office
  • Which segment does your company operate in? (If the company is B2B)
  • What is your education level?
    • Complete/incomplete elementary school;
    • Complete/incomplete high school education;
    • Complete/incomplete higher education;
    • Postgraduate degree completed or attending.
  • Where do you usually read/watch content related to [product/company segment/specific business model]?
    • Television
    • Newspaper
    • online newspaper
    • Facebook
    • LinkedIn
    • Google+
    • Twitter
    • Others
  • What kind of content would be interesting to read/watch related to [specific product/company segment/business model]?
  • What are your biggest challenges in life and/or work?
  • What were your real motivations when looking for [company/product]?
  • How were you before looking for [company/product]?
  • What exactly did [company/product] help you with?
  • Is there someone who influenced your decision to look for {company/product}?

Important: These questions are a guide. It is necessary to make some adaptations and mold them according to the specifics of each product, company or form of contracting the product or service. So, I suggest always adapting the questions to best fit your client’s context.

Tip: in each question, present the most common answer options, pointed out by the sales team or owner(s), and add the option ‘others’ or leave an open field.

3rd step: Research application

As mentioned above, you should apply the persona search to both current and former customers. You also have the option to chat with people who have already converted on some lead capture page or website forms (Leads).

Important! I recommend applying the survey with at least 20 respondents. This is a reliable minimum sample to satisfactorily analyze the universe of potential, current and former clients and identify more suitable personas.

The application can be done in different ways and with the help of different tools, according to resource limitations. The most suitable options for each type of research chosen (do you remember the alternatives presented in step 1? ) are:

Search options for creating personas

4th step: Tabulation and analysis of research data

In this step, the objective is to group similar responses and identify patterns. Use a spreadsheet to gather the data obtained and analyze the answers to each of the questions asked in the survey.

Create filters by profile data (eg age and title) and psychographic data (motivations and challenges) most vital to the business, group similar responses, and calculate percentages against the whole. Pie or bar charts help a lot in this understanding.

The most important thing is that you understand what data is most needed according to the customer’s business model. Thus, insert as many filters and perform as many data crossings as you deem necessary for the most assertive conclusion possible. Of course, as a result of this activity, you will identify not just one, but two or more personas.

Be clear, there is no cake recipe! You can identify 2 or 3 personas and initially work with just one. Over time, personas must be evaluated and reshaped to become more and more reliable mirrors of reality.

5th step: Formalization of identified persons

The most complicated and heaviest part of the job, so to speak, is over. For now, it is necessary to create a document to formalize and register the personas identified in the survey. For this activity, you can use a Word or Google Docs document, spreadsheets or even the Personas Generator.

Examples of personas

Each business will present different personas with characteristics of profile and challenges, goals, specific pains. In fact, to illustrate this, Blue World City has already published 3 examples of educational institution personas. Below I present some others, from different segments, that may arise as a result of research like the one we discussed above:

Health (B2C)

Laura is 51 years old and an architect. After some tests and consultations, he discovered that his cholesterol level was a little higher than normal. Her doctor advised her to do physical activity and have a healthier diet, in order to lose 5kg. She looks for functional activities, which can be done at home or in the office, as she doesn’t like the gym and spends a good part of her time developing projects at different times of the day.

  • The pain/problem: cholesterol level up;
  • Goal: lose 5 kg;
  • Challenge: discover the best physical exercises to do at home and office;
  • Solution: personal trainer who works at home.

Technology (B2B)

Carlos, 36, is taking over the direction of the company created by his father and which has been in the market for 30 years. In his first months in charge of stationery, he identified that there is a high amount of products in stock, compared to sales made, and even the lack of other goods demanded by customers. Annually, the company closes 2 days to take stock of the products. He’s looking for ways to better manage his inventory and shop smarter without the need for downtime.

  • The pain/problem: lack of control over the number of items in stock;
  • Objective: better inventory management and product purchase;
  • Challenge: to understand how to have greater control over the entry and exit of products and when to purchase each product;
  • Solution: stock management and sales registration system.

Extra: how to encourage participation in the survey

Perhaps you’re wondering how to encourage customers, former customers, and Leads to participate in the personas survey you’re running as a service. It might not be the easiest task, huh? In addition to taking advantage of opportunities (for example, applying the survey while the owner waits for their car to be released from dealer review), it is important to understand what is interesting/worthy to respondents. Some ideas to help you:

  • 10, 15, 20% discount on the purchase of a new product or module;
  • Free course to better use the product;
  • Gift or a special gift of the brand;
  • Drawing of something attractive and of value in the eyes of the participants.

I really hope this guide has opened your eyes to research and helps you create well-structured personas. And that, mainly, helps you to perform this and other Digital Marketing actions of your customers with more security.

So, do you have any more tips? Feel at home and share with us in the comments.