Let’s start by defining what a marketing persona is. A marketing persona is a fictional character each business needs to develop to define the characteristics of their target audience. This is the core of all your future marketing activities. If you fail to successfully define it in the beginning, you will have a lot of problems. The good thing is, you can get all of this accomplished with a single sheet of paper.

However, defining your marketing persona is a complex process and you can’t complete overnight. To get the best feedback, you need to make assumptions based on the collection of quality data over time. Time getting customers, and time failing to acquire customers.

As a business owner, you need to make sure you are investing enough time and effort in building your marketing persona. In the end, this will be your ultimate guide on which you will base all of your important business decisions. This is where business culture begins.

To get to the right data, you can do:

1.     Quantitative research and

2.     Qualitative research

Quantitative research is focused on large samples and is usually done on a large group of people. This includes surveys, live workshops, and frequent traffic analysis. With quantitative research, you can track behavioral trends or figure out the behavior of your target audience overall.

Qualitative research is done on smaller groups of people. Usually, with a smaller number of people (10 – 20), you will be able to discover the motivation behind certain actions and gather reasons and opinions of smaller demographics of customers. Analyzing your target audience is the best thing you can do for your business, but you need to know how to avoid certain pitfalls.

If you don’t have experience with the process, you need to be careful and avoid these mistakes:

1. Don’t make stuff up about your target audience

You can’t make a certain assumption about your target audience based only on raw data. Other sources and media won’t help you. Don’t make stuff up and add characteristics that other people use just because you believe it’s the right thing to do.  In this scenario, logic is more important than imagination.

2. Check the quality of your data

Demographic characteristics such as age, sex, and nationality are not enough. You can’t simply define your target audience based on demographics… you need more. Adding motives, preferences, and status will complete your data and help you create better traction.

3. Don’t develop too many personas

Develop one quality marketing persona, don’t waste your time on multiple target audience documents. Creating one document will help you avoid any confusion and allow you to focus more on the things that matter.

4. Avoid using scripted Q&A interviews

Scripted Q&A interviews won’t solve your problem. Part of the process is to have formal questions of course, but you will get true value by having informal conversations with your target audience.

Normal conversations will help you learn more about their experiences and preferences. This data will help you complete your persona questionnaire and perfect your marketing guide. The future of your business depends on a one piece document. Make sure you compose it the right way!