The Clue to writing great personas

When I was a kid I played board games: Monopoly, Life, Parcheesi, and CLUE. Of all the games, I liked CLUE the best. Probably because it’s most like marketing. The key to succeeding in CLUE is in uncovering “the who.” If you thought you knew who the killer was, but didn’t know what motivated him/her then you didn’t really know the true “who”.  An incomplete picture lessens your ability to find the person you seek, just as it does in marketing. Demographics aren’t enough. You need to get into the head of person you seek.

Just as in marketing, you need to do your research if you are going to win at CLUE. But you’ll need to change your mindset and make your approach to research more exciting and playful. We recommend a practice called, building personas. Personas are fictional people that you create based on your research. You describe them in great detail; clarifying as best you can exactly “who” you are looking for in a targeted audience.

You may develop the persona based on a goal, a purpose, and even how this character will successfully interact with your brand. And most importantly instead of thinking of your “who” as an uninspiring demographic: e.g. female 27-40, homemaker with 3 kids, married to an accountant…get creative! First off, you name the person(a). You tell of their past, and what motivates them today. You find a picture of them and place it at the top of the persona, along with that unique name you came up with that helps you make the association to your target. You describe what they wear and look like and what really makes them tick. You tell a cool story about what makes them believable and memorable, realizing that if they’re not memorable your ability to find them is compromised, your goal further from your grasp.

Doing personas isn’t easy, but with time you’ll improve and gain a better understanding of the audience you seek. If you lose heart, or need further inspiration – pull together some friends, crack a bottle of wine and break out the game of CLUE. Discovering that the killer was Colonel Mustard, with a rope, in the study, is gratifying, especially if you are the one who uncovers the clues and wins the game. Winning always feels good, be it fact or fiction. Personas can help you win in business, too.

Have you any great persona stories to share? We’re interested.