If you really want to connect with your audience online you need to be relatable and whilst that may happen by chance every now and then, to craft content and deliver products that continuously resonate you need to be able to understand your audience on a deeper level. This is where the customer persona canvas and marketing avatar comes into play. It is a way for you to create a profile you can identify with that is representative of your typical or ideal customer in your business.
The customer persona canvas is a tool I developed in order to craft customer personas in a step by step fashion whilst presenting the information in a format that is easy to refer back to. It was loosely inspired by the business model canvas however it is completely unique and is purely developed for the purpose of understanding and marketing to your customers. Below you will find a short summary of the details that you will develop in the persona canvas and you can find download links for the templates and a completed example at the base of this page.
When completing each section you can either use data from analytics tools on your existing customers and lead databases, you can undertake interviews or you can make a best guess based on your experience and expectations. It is important to remember that this isn't a science and the best customer persona canvas will likely include elements of all sources. The canvas contains three bands of colour for three different customer personas that make up your audience. You may choose to use more or less as long as each one is specific enough to cover a band of your customers whilst not being so vague that you end up with tens of different personas causing you to lose focus in your communications.
Sections of the Customer Persona Canvas
I usually start out with a name in this section that you can identify the specific persona with in the case where you have multiple personas for the same business. Following this you will enter some some basic details to start building out your profile of your typical ideal customer. This section will include things like; Name, Age-Range, Profession, Marital Status and Geographical Location will start to build the picture. Whilst not all of these details will be relevant all the time it is important to make your customer as real as possible so that you can almost see yourself speaking to this person face to face.
In this section you will begin to think about what interests your customers have. This will likely include both personal and professional topics and will get you thinking about what really excites your customer. The information used here can help you to create relevant content, inform shared points of reference and also tailor the way you present things to your audience.
When marketing online you will need to pay special attention to how technically able your customer personas are. Do they live on social media and power through hundreds of articles in an RSS reader or are they new to the internet and accessing it from a tablet that a relative bought them for their birthday. All of these things can help to inform the types of content you should create, which devices to optimise for, which channels use and how much hand-holding or instruction they will need to complete certain tasks.
This is an area that traditional marketers looking to purchase spots have always paid attention to but even if you're not planning (or can't afford) your own TV slot you can utilise this information to create talking points on social media, reference stories in your content and understand the other narratives and heroes in your customers lives.
Most Visited Websites
You will probably want to include the top five sites your customer persona visits on a regular basis. This may include social media, blogs, e-commerce sites or more. Understanding these will once again help you to gain some insight into the types of issues they are being exposed to and potentially considering, the places on the web they visit to express themselves and the type of websites that they are used to so you can follow or contrast with your content appropriately. If this section includes sites that offer ad placements, guest posts or user submitted content these will probably be prime channels to reach your audience in their own environment as well.
Whether sports are directly relevant to your product or not this still an area that you will want to consider as it is one that people tend to get very passionate about. You can use your understanding here to inspire content and identify communities or sites your customers may be members of.
News is everywhere and it can have a significant impact on your world view and the conversations in your life personally and professionally. If you can identify how your audience accesses the news you will again gain a deeper understanding of the narratives in your lives. Additionally if you structure your content, products and press releases appropriately there is the opportunity to get your news featured in front of your customers and drive massive traffic to your business.
Goals / Aspirations
Beyond simple interests we all have hopes and dreams and your customers are no different. If you can learn and gain an understanding of their core aspirations then you can begin to understand why they do certain things or interact with certain content and sources. If you're lucky enough to find that your customers goals and aspirations align with your product then you will also want to ensure that this is communicated in your marketing.
Trend / Product Influencers
Consumption habits are often driven by other people so it can help to understand who your customers are likely to be influenced by. This can vary through various life stages, geographies and also online “tribes”. If you can identify influencers it will be beneficial to look at how they present themselves, their interests and if relevant you may even build relationships with authority figures within that group. All of this will help you to tailor your messages as well as presenting potential channels for advocacy and insight.
Hopefully the information that you've entered so far has painted a fairly clear picture of your customer persona and can inform which may be the best channels to reach your audience. You will want to consider all of the previous sections to estimate where they are most likely to receive your marketing and general communications when they are most receptive to them. It is important to remember that you don't want to interrupt your audience so just because you know they visit fishing forums daily it doesn't mean you should be joining those same forums and touting the benefits of your project management consultancy.
How we are relevant?
As you move into the final section you will want to explore exactly how your products fits into the customer personas life. Why would they choose your business and how would them benefit from your offering? Is it aligned with their goals and aspirations? Is it a tool that they can use to further one of thier interests? How will they be using it and how will they feel when they start using it. You want to get as vivid as possible with this because this will essentially be your promise and pitch that you need to communicate and more importantly deliver on.
Finally you can use the comments and notes section to comment on anything relevant you've uncovered through this process that you want to refer to in future. Perhaps there are inherent fears or worries about your product that need to be overcome, or you think there will need to be several stages to your communications. You might also use this section to note real quotes and insights from actual customers to really bring the persona to life.