This post by John Haydon first appeared on the Razoo blog, and John was kind enough to let us reprint it. You can find more interesting and educational posts from John and other guest bloggers on the site. 

Marketing Personas are fictitious characters you create to represent your various different audience segments–subscribers, advocates, donors, volunteers, etc. They’re nothing more than a tool to help you better understand what motivates people to donate, volunteer, and support your org. And the better you define your personas, the easier it will be to create branding assets, social media content, website copy, and email messages.The following are six steps you can follow to create a set of personas.

1. Define Your Segments

Start with a list of the various different segments that you deal with. And give them names! This will help you interact with them once you start asking them questions.

2. Define Demographics

Demographics, as we will see, are very different from Personas. It’s very difficult to create content that resonates when all you know is where someone lives and how much money they make.

Still, you have to start somewhere and demographics is a perfectly fine place to start.

  • Where do they live?
  • What gender are they?
  • What level of education have they achieved?
  • What is their income?
  • What is their marital status?
  • Do they have kids?

3. Articulate Their Values and Beliefs

Next, you’ll want to know what their values, opinions, and beliefs are.

Knowing this information will give you a very good handle on what will be going on in their heads when they visit your website, complete a donation, or attend an event.

What’s great about social media is that you can get this information simply by visiting social profiles. This gets much easier if you use a service like Rapportive or have social CRM features built into your donor database.

4. Get Under Their Skin

Next, you want to articulate what deeply motivates them on an emotional level. This sounds hard, but once you have demographic and psychographic information, getting under their skin will come natural because guess what! You’re a human being too!

Start by asking some of these questions:

  • What’s their self-image?
  • What are their day-to-day worries and goals?
  • How are they trying to create a meaningful life?
  • What behaviors are they trying to change?

5. Define The Value They Get From Your Organization

Knowing what their beliefs are and what moves them emotionally will enable you to articulate exactly why they would donate to you or volunteer. You’ll start to understand the real emotional reasons around why they donate or volunteer.

6. Give Them a Face and a Name

Finally, you want to give them a name and a face. Get a picture from a site like Fotolia or Shutterstock. Give them a name that includes an adjective that describes their personality. For example, Rita Riteous or Laid-back Larry (see Blackbaud’s example above).

Giving them a name and a face will help make your personas much more real. This way, when you’re developing a landing page for your next campaign, you’ll be able to easily discuss user motivations and problems with others on your team.

Personas Are Not Real People

The downside of personas is that they aren’t real people. So talk to your people at every chance you get.

Really seek to deeply understand who they are (which you should be doing anyhow). And notice what seems inconsistent with the assumptions you’ve made in your personas.

Does your organization use personas?