The 4 Rules of Personas: Creating Great Personas, Part 2
Ian Lurie Sep 26 2007
If you haven’t yet read my 9/24 article on personas, you should read that, first. It provides a very detailed look at personas and how to create them. Today’s article explains what you do with the personas after you’ve written them.
The 4 Rules of Personas
Personas can drive a great internet marketing strategy, if you follow four rules:
- Pursue only focal personas as customers until you dominate this little marketplace.
- Then pursue the ‘eh’ personas on a test basis. Make them into either focal or exclusionary personas, and adjust your strategy as necessary.
- Then expand your business in a new direction.
- Never, ever, ever try to win over the exclusionary personas. Trust me, I’ve tried. At best, you fail. If you’re really unlucky, you succeed and end up in some truly awful business relationships.
Yup, I just used some terms you’ve not heard before: Focal personas, ‘eh’ personas, and exclusionary personas. Read on, and you’ll see how this works:
How it Works (told ya)
Let’s say you’ve created 10 personas:
Now you need to filter them, building the audience you want, the one you don’t need, and the one you want to avoid.
Focal Personas: Your Little Marketplace
You really want some personas as customers; they’re your perfect match. They’ll be loyal, or spend a lot on you, or vote for you every election, etc.. They’re called focal personas, and they’re the target of your internet marketing strategy. They form a small marketplace where you can sell to a receptive, happy audience.
As a rule, have no more than 5 focal personas. If you have more than five, consider splitting them up into smaller sub-groups for separate campaigns – it’s hard to find consistent selling propositions among more than 5 personas.
Let’s assume that you want Connected Chris, Loyal Larry, Rich Robin and Timely Tim as your focal personas.
‘Eh’ Personas: Nice To Have, But OK To Lose
Some personas might be OK customers, but only just OK. They buy quickly but never come back, vote for you once and then hate you forever, or they’re a poor match for your brand. These are ‘eh’ personas.
In this case, our ‘eh’ personas are Flaky Frank, Slow Stephanie and Spendy Susan. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if they were customers, but it wouldn’t make our day, either.
Exclusionary Personas: Run!
You don’t want these personas. They’ll make your life hell, or pay late, or grind you down on every dime. Regardless of the reason, make a decision, right now, to disqualify them. Build a campaign that shows this audience you’re not their best choice.
For our exclusionary personas, we’ve got Bad Bob, Demanding Dave and Mean Mary. We’ll avoid them like the plague. Life’s too short.
Build for the focal personas, and to filter out the exclusionary personas. Present as neutral a face as possible to the rest. See that? You’ve just outlined the broad strokes for your campaign! You now know who your market is, who it might be someday, and who it should never be. You’re off and running.
*If you’d like to see more about personas and applying them in internet marketing, please comment below. I’ll continue forward with this series. If not, say nothing. I’ll slink into the corner, grumbling, and write something else.
**The original concept of focal and exclusionary personas is not my own. It comes from many, many sources – too many to count. So I’ll just link to the Google Search Result. ‘eh’ personas I made up all by myself.
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More