I’ve been thinking about persona creation a lot lately, and why so many marketers find it challenging. One of the issues I have struggled with along the way is finding the information needed to create a full persona. Good personas have lots of detail and bring the target consumer to life, but how do you find this stuff out, especially if you’re working on a B2B campaign?
The truth is that there are no easy ways to find out everything you want to know about your personas, which is one of the main reasons I theorize that marketers skip this step. It’s time consuming and it can be frustrating to try and dig this information up only to come up empty handed. To me, though, this is where the fun begins. It’s similar to the research I used to do for journalistic stories, where you can spend hours following the small pieces of information to larger ones.
It’s not a science by any means, but there are sources that I use consistently to make the process easier. These are things I have used in the past to figure out who my personas really are and what they feel passionately about.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics
The BLS isn’t always totally accurate, and it doesn’t include every job that is out there. But it is a great source of information that many people ignore because the information can be hard to find and understand. The way the site is set up makes it difficult to find the data you want, but once you find it, it can be pretty useful.
A lot of people get lost in the data the Occupational Outlook Handbook provides (including me!). Instead of focusing on the numbers, there is a lot more information available in the profiles of each occupation, including the training needed to get the job, the environment they work in, pay rate and projected growth in the field over the coming years.
Google knows a lot about us, and they are willing to share some of that information with marketers. Since many people have started to be aware of exactly how much information is collected about them and take measures to protect some of their information, you will see less than we used to years ago. But there’s still a lot you can glean here.
- Analytics: Can give you location, age and other demographic research about the people who visit the site.
- Trends: This information offers you a look at what is trending on Google, which you can then refine by area and topic. It’s a good way to see what related topics your targets are looking into and what generally interests them.
Linked In has a wealth of information, as you know if you’ve ever used their platform for ads. Some of the most useful tidbits you can get from a profile include:
- Graduation year, which gives you a clue about the person’s age.
- Professional associations, which gives you ideas about where to place content for maximum visibility.
- Issues and topics they are interested in enough to comment on, like or share.
Demographic and Media Research
There are a lot of companies that specialize in media and marketing research that offer insight into what motivates people to take action. This is an area where I would probably sign up for a newsletter, and see if there is any new research that applies to your personas as time goes on.
Client Events and Knowledge
If you’re doing these personas for a client, the client or their sales team is your number one best resource for finding out more about the end customer. Ask them how people find out about them now and what the potential customers typical pain points are. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you know marketing, that you know better than them. They may not understand digital marketing, but they understand what is currently working for the brand or product, and that’s valuable knowledge for you.
Where do you get the research tidbits that help bring your personas to life?