Marketing Personas FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

We know that using personas for your marketing, social engagement and communications is a critical first step to strengthening your brand and messaging. Usually we think of using them purely in a branding, marketing and sales context. However, any time we consistently communicate to multiple groups, personas should be used to keep our focus and consistency in what is being said.

Having presented a persona workshop at the PMI SWOC Symposium in London in May 2015 – many questions came up about their use. Below are some of the questions and answers.

Psychological profiles are very specific. Should they be in a generalized Persona?

Extensio - Chad Persona Customization

Xtensio – Chad Persona Customization

This question came from an observation from a Persona created with Xtensio’s free online tool. A slider shown on the right side of the persona summary – provides phychological profile observations. A psychological profile is highly specific to an individual person … so it seems odd to apply it to a semi-fictional individual representing a group of customers.

Yes a psychological profile is find to be added to a Persona summary. Remember that a persona is a semi-fictional individual. What the persona summary does is try to personify and humanize the group of customers – in the character of one persona. Even though the psychological profile is of that one individual persona… it is meant to give the communicator a perspective on this individual, idealized customer.

It is a leap of faith to have a rough psychological profile drawn for a persona. However, this generalization is meant to help the communicator better understand the audience to whom he or she is communicating. From that perspective, it can be helpful to understand certain attributes – like whether the target customers tend to be analytical, introverted, detail oriented individuals – or if they are decisive, summary level extroverts. Impactful communication will be different for each group.

As such, a snapshot psychological profile can be useful – depending on the nature of your business and differences between the personas to whom you are communicating.

What should you always include in a Persona summary?

Naturally every organisation and situation will be unique. There are no hard set rules, that you must always have certain attributes included in a persona summary. Really, you will have to use your own judgement to add and remove the attributes that make sense for your needs.

Elements all persona summaries should include:

  • Bio Description / Demographics
  • Persona’s Goals
  • Persona’s Challenges
  • Direct Quotes
  • Media preference

Are visuals necessary (graphs, slider bars)?

No rule requires you to have visuals, but since most people are visually oriented – the answer is YES.

Remember that “90% of information that comes to the brain is visual” (Hyerle, 2000) and “~65% of the population are visual learners.” (Mind Tools, 1998) .

If you want the persona summaries to be used by your communicators… you must cater to the user’s persona! Adding simple, easily understood graphics can make your persona summary clearer, and a quicker read. A quick read and interpretation is important for a social media manager, or customer service representatives – answering rapid fire questions from multiple sources.

Want your persona summary to be effective? If yes… then use visuals!

Why are photos included?

Busy Mom Persona Photo

Busy Mom Persona Photo

The whole point of personas and a persona summary – at to focus us (communicators) on the person with whom we want to communicate. Including a photo is a way to personalize this ideal customer. A photo reminds us that this is a real person whom we want to engage.

Personas are generalizations. So are they really that useful?

A persona representations a single semi-fictional individual with whom you want to communicate. Yes they are a generalization of the target market. However, what we are doing is representing a single ideal customer from that group, and bringing it down to a personalized individual.

The purpose a persona serves it to focus the communicator on the ideal customer. By focusing on this persona, you will direct your communication with that individual, speaking in their language, with material to which they react well, and in the channels they engage on. Personas help remind us who we are ideally speaking with, how to speak to them as individuals, and where to speak with them so that they engage in the conversation.

Even though it is a generalized and idealized customer, it serves as a reminder, and a point of focus and consistency.

How many marketers are using buyer personas?

One ITSMA (IT Services Marketing Association) study found that only 44% of B2B marketers were using personas (Mar 2014). An additional 29% were planning to use personas in the following 12 months.

How do I make sure they are used?

To make sure the buyer personas are used takes a few steps. Obviously the first step is to involve and communicate the personas to the team that will use them. Ideally this team was engaged to help develop or brainstorm on the persona development.

Next it is important to make sure everyone understands how to use personas, and why they are so important. A great example to use is to describe a persona, then show a marketing piece that does NOT engage the customer, and then one that truly engages that customer. Then go through the though process of creating a communication piece – pointing out how to use the information on the persona summary to help craft an effective message.

Finally, infuse personas into your culture. Do this by continually come back to the personas, speak about how they are being used, remind your communicators about them, in meetings ask others how they have been using them, use examples where they were clearly used well, and make sure they are top of mind with your team.


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Article by Charles Dimov


PMI SWOC Symposium 2015

PMI SWOC Symposium 2015

PMI SWOC Symposium 2015

A special not of thanks to Anita Vincent Huisman and the PMI SWOC team for inviting me to speak about Marketing Personas on Friday May 15th. It was a great crowd, and very engaged audience of Project Managers seeking to learn more about how to make their communications more impactful.






Slides for the event are included here. Feel free to download them, and use them wisely :-)
Marketing Personas – for Project Communications (PMISWOC Symposium May2015)

Reach out to me if there is any help or advice I can provide for your project.


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