Here at Southerly we are all about persona building; we believe that by carefully considering the individual you want your content to reach, it becomes far easier to craft material that appeals to, engages, and ultimately provokes a response from your audience, whether customers, candidates or employees.
Why design your personas?
By designing a persona you are putting a face to your audience. And we use the word ‘face’ in its literal sense. By creating a detailed and bespoke visual representation of the kind of person you want to be influenced your content, you will have a consistent focus that ensures everything produced is written in the tone, style and context that is most effective.
And the deeper you delve into the mind of your persona, the more precise you can be with how your content targets them. Think about the following:
- What are their needs?
- Are they looking to solve any particular problems?
- What are their ambitions, goals and motivations?
- What are their behaviours and values?
- How do they consume their media?
- How are they influenced?
- Do they respond best to videos, or is written content the best way to reach them?
The picture you create will of course be fictional, but what it represents is very real; it is the personification of your target audience, and you should identify their key characteristics and habits to understand what messages will attract their attention, and how and where to deliver those messages.
Our five-step process
Designing personas may take a little time, but it’s worth the effort. This is how we go about helping our clients to develop effective personas.
1) Persona workshop – The best personas are based on a combination of real data and educated guesses. We like to kick off with a discussion about what the client wishes to achieve with their content and who they broadly regard as their target audience based on what they already know and think.
2) Conduct more research – The more detailed you can be when creating personas the better. Where time and budget allow, we conduct additional research to enhance existing knowledge. This could involve focus groups, interviews, surveys and internet searches, depending on the situation.
3) Brief – Once all of the relevant information has been gathered, we produce a comprehensive brief for our design team. This allows our designers to produce initial sketches and illustrations to share with the client for discussion.
4) Illustrate – Once the client is happy with the first set of sketches, the illustration process can begin. This is where the persona will be developed to accurately represent the audience.
5) Consider additional details – The design can be meticulous, vague or somewhere in between; it all depends on how the level of definition or diversity involved.
6) Let your creativity run wild – Have fun! Design has very few limitations, so we encourage clients to push the boundaries. We can create personas that are quirky, strange or ambiguous; see below for some examples of designs we have previously produced.
Quality over quantity
Ultimately, you want the content you produce to reach the right people. Though that may appear an obvious statement, it’s an aim that can all too easily be overlooked by attempting to reach the many rather than the few.
Whatever your reason for producing content, whether it be to advertise a product, fill a job vacancy or inform members of staff, the output must always attract the people that will benefit the most; it is far better for a piece of content to be viewed by 10 involved readers than by 100 who will immediately dismiss it.
By carefully considering exactly who you want your content to appeal to, and subsequently tailoring your output to engage that specific audience, you give yourself the best possible foundation with which to build a rapport, and eventually a professional relationship.