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How (and Why) to Use User Personas Every Day

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

User personas and customer avatars aren’t a new concept. Even if you are a founder who feels like marketing is taught in a foreign language, you’ve likely come across a user persona or heard how you should have one. Maybe you’ve even heard that if you don’t have one, you’re “losing money.”

Creating a user persona is all fine and good, but what’s the point of a tool if you don’t use it? User personas aren’t like the only-good-for-one-task As-Seen-on-TV kitchen gadgets you find at your local home store. User personas are more like a high-quality chefs knife. You should be using it every day, across the organization.

However, I realize that using a customer avatar might not come naturally to founders and startup teams. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of ways that every member of your team can take advantage of this tool for everyday decision making.

How to Use User Personas

Let’s pause for a moment and reflect on the number of decisions a startup founder, product manager, one-person marketing team, or any other employee makes on any given day.

There are so many decisions made (some estimations are as high as 35,000 decisions made by an average adult daily), sometimes in a split second, that we forget we are even making decisions.

We use the information we have hiding out in the back of our minds, and our understanding of the world around us to determine what’s the best move.

What have you and your team been basing your decisions on so far? The list below covers just a few of choices that can be positively influenced or simplified by keeping a customer avatar handy for reference.

How marketing teams can use user personas

To improve sales copy

One of the most obvious and useful ways to implement customer avatars in your workflow is improving sales copy. By understanding a potential customer’s needs, wants, motivations, and criteria, you can better present your solution.

To decide which platforms to use for promotion

By recognizing where users hang out online, and where they go to find information, you can prioritize marketing channels that are most relevant to them.

To determine what audiences to target

Let’s imagine you want to run Facebook ads to increase awareness or drive traffic to a product landing page. Referencing your customer avatar sheet helps you fill in the blanks when it comes to targeting.

To decide what topics to write about

Content marketing is meant to be beneficial. When you are planning content efforts, look to our customer avatar to prioritize topics that solve the problems they are facing.

To determine what tone of voice to use in all communications

Your brand’s personality should resonate with your target audience. Knowing who you are talking to guides how you’ll talk to them.

To identify guest blogging opportunities

User personas can identify influencers or sites that your audience looks to for advice. With that knowledge in your toolbox, you’ll know exactly where to aim your guest blogging efforts.

How human resource teams can use user personas

To get new hires on the same page

When a new team member joins, they need to get up to speed on the company culture and objectives as quickly as possible. How about a one-pager?

To get the entire team on the same page

User persona one pages aren’t just for new hires. Entire teams, across every department, benefit from understanding who they are working to serve.

How product development teams can use user personas

To prioritize updates and changes

When resources and time are limited, product teams need to prioritize work. Knowing which criteria potential users consider when looking at options makes decisions easier.

To tailor the user experience

Customer avatars also give insight into how customers will interact with and use your product or service.

How startup founders (or small do-it-all teams) can use user personas

To reference and improve

User persona sheets are a living document that will evolve with the company. However, you can’t enhance your understanding if you don’t have a starting document.

To test theories

Sometimes, user personas are developed using your best guess or intuition. With these theories recorded, you’ll be able to direct tests and initiatives that determine if you guessed correctly.

To decide if a client or partner is a good fit

User personas are useful for decisions of all kinds. Measuring potential partners against their connection to the persona can help weed out bad fits.

How to create a user persona

Now that you know how to use a customer avatar/user persona, you may be wondering how to make one.

If you already have a user persona created, good for you! If you don’t, there are many excellent articles about the process, like the ones here, or here. If you want a faster and simpler done-for-you persona, let’s chat.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 338,320+ people.

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