September 18, 2013 - Comments Off on Where did all the people go?

Where did all the people go?

When did it all get so impersonal? When did we forget that it’s all about people?

As an agency, we help our clients sell things. Whether that a product, a service, an idea, an opinion or a dream, we get them in front of the right people.

But as an industry we don’t refer to them as ‘people’. In fact we call them anything but.

They’re customers, or target audience, or users (which is even worse), and all these labels are fine if we don’t really know who these people are.

It’s the equivalent of meeting an old acquaintance, and when their name doesn’t pop into your head, calling them ‘mate’, just to be safe.

That’s just lazy, and it’s not the way we do things at Bloom. We like to know all about the people we’re trying to reach, and that’s why we invest in personas.

Getting to know people

We start by talking to the client to understand the demographic they target and what they already know about these people. Then we do our own research. We talk to friends, family and colleagues, we hold focus groups with people who fit the bill, and we look at industry trends and data to fill in the gaps. And we stress test our thoughts to make sure our personas represent real thinking.

When this is all done we’re left with detailed personas of people. We know their name, their age and their family circumstances. We know what they do for a living, where they shop and their financial situation. We also know how they think and what’s important to them.

Crucially, personas show that there are people who have an emotional or practical need for what our client offers. As a copywriter, this makes life a hell of a lot simpler when I’m trying to tell them that I have what they’re looking for.

Of course, timescales and budgets mean that sometimes we can only dip our toes into the world of personas, whereas other times we can really go to town and invest what’s needed to reveal the full picture. But surely a little insight is better than none, isn’t it?

The argument for…

Personas make life easier because we can picture who is on the receiving end of our communications. Taking the time to understand how these people live and how they think gives us a better chance of reaching them.

Plus, personas provide a frame of reference to validate everything we do against, and ensure that every piece of communication is actually relevant to a group of people.

It simply means less guessing and more knowing.

Working this way sees the personas also take on a life of their own and evolve over time as we learn more about people. They diversify too, and there have been a number of occasions where we’ve used different ‘people’ across multiple clients as a result of them sharing traits.

The argument against…

Well, there isn’t one really.

The process of creating personas, and really getting into the minds of people, can be tricky and time-consuming. I can only imagine that’s why more people don’t see the value in them.

But if they want to keep assuming, and missing the mark, then good luck to them.