Customer personas can be an invaluable asset to any business. When done right, personas enable entrepreneurs to better understand their customers and build richer experiences that support clients’ needs and drive business objectives.
But first things first. And to understand why persona creation needs to be a team effort, let’s define what a customer persona is.
What is a customer persona?
A customer persona — also called a buyer persona — is a representation of your target audience. It extends beyond basic demographics and includes insights into a customer’s behavior patterns, goals, and motivation.
To be credible, personas need to be accurate. That said, it’s important not to overkill it with details and include only traits and characteristics that are relevant to your business, as too much data can sidetrack your marketing efforts.
While persona creation is often seen as the marketers’ responsibility, it is a much better idea to turn the process into a company-wide effort. In addition to a more comprehensive persona profile, engaging different departments helps guide product development and secure executive buy-in. Now, let’s see how.
1. Focus on product development
Data is king, and marketers conduct qualitative and quantitative research and surveys to create data-driven buyer personas. But sales and customer support teams have first-hand experience in dealing with customers that they can share to enrich personas and better focus development efforts.
Take a plant identifying app, for example. The app recognizes plant species and provides houseplant owners with useful tips on plant care routine, from watering schedule to repotting tips. With that, customer service gets a lot of feedback from researchers and students majoring in botany who use the app to store notes and organize information. Shared with the product team, these insights can help to discover a whole new segment of the audience and better tailor the development roadmap to cater to new needs.
2. Eliminate the risk of bias
However data-driven, customer personas are still based on our ideas and assumptions, hence, they require testing. But when you are constantly working on an idea — whether developing a persona or building a new feature — it’s so easy to fall in love with it. So, to test your idea, you will unconsciously select users who will validate and support it.
And that’s exactly why you need to bring different perspectives on board. By including various points of view, you can not only minimize the risk of bias but also create more holistic customer profiles.
3. Ensure everyone is on the same page
To bring maximum benefit, personas need to be adopted and used by every department. But just handing a stack of findings to your colleagues may not be the best way to encourage adoption. It’s often difficult for other teams to use ready-made personas as they had no say in the process.
When people actively provide their input and participate in personas development, they are more invested in the process. And with this level of engagement, it’s much easier for them to use created personas in their daily operations and ensure consistent customer experiences.
4. Get leadership buy-in
And last but not least, engaging all departments from the start will help you secure executive buy-in — something you definitely want for your project.
When working on a product or a service, you would want to develop several personas depending on the number of key user segments. But building multiple personas requires tremendous effort and, given limited time or budget resources, you may need to prioritize what personas are key to focus your attention on them. Stakeholders’ involvement in personas creation goes a long way towards raising their credibility and value as a reference point, which can come in handy when making difficult design decisions.
The bottom line
From e-commerce to banking to online learning, companies across industries and domains leverage buyer personas to enhance customer engagement, create meaningful experiences, and improve conversions.
To build relatable and effective customer personas, it’s not enough to put the marketing team in charge — all departments need to pitch in. This will help you bring different perspectives to the table and harness meaningful insights across the entire company while encouraging wider personas adoption by teams.