Building a persona

A set of questions (and example answers) for building a persona


How to build a persona for your website, or marketing campaign.

At 3DN we are continually investing in new ideas to drive engagement and my typical approach is turn to a highly rated book to see what gems I can find. This time it was the 1 Page Marketing Plan by Allan Dib.

Whether I get to a 1-page marketing plan or not remains to be seen, however early on in the book, Allan talks about defining your audience and presented a list of questions you can ask to try and determine the characteristics of what he calls an avatar. And in the web world, we’d call that a persona.

So borrowing heavily from his list of questions I wanted to present a similar list that could be used to develop a persona for your digital marketing plans.  These questions should be asked in the context of a specific type of person in your potential customer base.  In my example I've asked the questions and bullet point answers for a marketing manager:

What keeps them awake at night?

  • Workload
  • Open rates on emails
  • Conversions
  • Hits
  • Getting content out on time

What are they afraid of?

  • Dip in statistics
  • Other departments not meeting deadlines
  • Quality of content they don’t control

What are they angry about?

  • Everyone thinks marketing is easy
  • Inflexibility of website publishing

Who are they angry at?

  • Other department heads
  • Content writers

What are their top daily frustrations?

  • Other people's priorities over his

What trends are occurring and will occur in their businesses or lives?

  • Immediate publishing requirements
  • ROI on content
  • Sophisticated measurement
  • Sophisticated marketing automation

What do they secretly, ardently desire most?

  • For people to understand that there’s more to marketing than picking website colours.

Is there a built-in bias in the way they make decisions? (Eg: Engineers are analytical)

  • Lean towards digital agencies (not tech companies)
  • Tools and services that the big boys use

Do they have a language or jargon they use?

  • Yes

What’s this person’s day like?

  • Morning briefing
  • CEO email responses
  • Review statistics
  • Troubleshoot website issues
  • Review budget
  • Review team’s output
  • Troubleshoot team’s issues

What’s the main dominant emotion this market feels?

  • Get it done

What is the ONE thing they crave about all else?

  • Make it beautiful – but so I can measure the result

Filling this in with just bullet points was enough to frame the rest of the process for the marketing exercise. In terms of building a persona, it will also help you figure out if you're making the right content and providing the right content pathways on your site.  I highly recommend the book.


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