When branding your small business, one of the first steps is identifying who your target customers are. The next step is determining how your product or service aims to help solve a challenge or offer added value to them.

You might already have an image in your head of the type of individuals (or entities) you want to engage. But you need this information readily available to your team. Why? These are the people responsible for creating marketing campaigns to engage and educate your customers.

What Are User Personas?

User personas are traditionally one-page fact sheets that showcase your primary/secondary customers, their wants, and needs. “User personas are archetypical users whose goals and characteristics represent the needs of a larger group of users,” (Adobe).

Though user personas can differ in size and scope, at a minimum, they should include:

  • Age
  • Occupation 
  • Pain Points
  • Spending Habits
  • Brands They Follow
  • Technology They Use

Why is this information relevant? In digital marketing, we tend to get caught up in appeasing search engine algorithms. So much so that we forget why we started our business: to serve people.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should completely ignore SEO. But it does mean that no matter what you’re working on—a new website, YouTube channel, display ad, etc.—your user should be the primary focus and search engines should be secondary.

Think of it this way: if you have your website fully optimized using SEO best practices, but your interface offers a poor UI experience, your users will bounce off anyway, and your rankings will suffer as a result (Search Engine Journal). It’s a delicate balance, but another way to position this age-old argument is to ask yourself what’s the real role of a search engine? To help users find the answers they’re searching for. If your marketing channels do that, more people will land on your site and stay there. And in turn, the search engines will consider you a credible source for this specific query, which means they send more users your way.

Before you can successfully market to your customer, you first need to understand their goals and challenges. That way you can provide them a simple solution and a personalized experience with your brand.

How to Put User Personas Into Practice

Once you have identified who your primary, secondary, and tertiary (if needed) audiences are, you’ll want to showcase this information as one fictional individual who encompasses each group identity. The information will help you develop the right messaging and tone to connect with this audience.

Further, having information about the types of brands they follow and technology they use will help you utilize the correct marketing channels. For instance, if you know your users prefer to get their news and information from platforms like LinkedIn or prefer to watch tutorials on search engines like YouTube, you’ll want to make sure you're investing in those channels to build your customer base.

The best part is many of these channels offer helpful insight and analytics tools to help you learn more about target audiences. This includes their behaviors, which means no guesswork required.

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