May I introduce you to Heather Anne Stone? She is COLIBRI’s persona– a wonderfully hard worker, creative, tough and a loving mother to a very cute little boy. She is 43 years old, divorced and a solo entrepreneur. She holds a bachelor’s degree and earns about $58,000/year running a home-based child care service in San Francisco, California.
Despite how great she is, you aren’t likely to run into her on the street. Why? Because she is a product of COLIBRI’s digital imagination. In other words, Heather is not a person, she is a persona.
Before you call COLIBRI crazy, let’s find out what a persona is. According to Wikipedia, personas are:
fictional characters created to represent the different user types within a targeted demographic, attitude and/or behavior set that might use a site, brand or product in a similar way. Marketers may use personas together with market segmentation, where the qualitative personas are constructed to be representative of specific segments. The term persona is used widely in online and technology applications as well as in advertising.
That sure sounds fun, doesn't it?!
Well, it is a lot more rewarding than it sounds, and COLIBRI is happy she created Heather following the advice given to all web designers, content writers and marketers, which is to create a persona and use it for making marketing and business development decisions.
Maybe you’ll say COLIBRI has been spending too much time in front of the computer, but, as I get to know Heather, I love her more and more. It’s not too surprising, because we have a lot in common. We are both:
- working mothers
- in love with our children
- juggling work, family, relationships and time for ourselves
- committed to living joyful, creative lives
- making a positive difference in the world
COLIBRI appreciates Heather’s struggles and values because they similar to her own. COLIBRI knew she could never run a business unless she cared about the people she was trying to serve. Looking around, she saw a lot of time pressed mothers making it happen. And so, COLIBRI decided to develop a business oriented to working women, especially mothers.
And then she backed it up with research. 7 tips for creating (and developing a relationship with) a persona +1:
- Take a stab at it: either choose your ideal client or guess who that would be.
- Do some research: definitely google your ideal client, but also go to the library and ask for a librarian’s help. Librarians ROCK, and they can point you in the right direction toward relevant books, journals and online databases.
- Just do it: put together a preliminary persona. You will refine it later.
- What to include: a photo, a name, demographics and a narrative (a story about this person’s struggles, strengths, values and desires and more).
- Talk to people: find at least ten people who fit your basic profile and find out what their lives are like.
- Review: after you have done some research and talked to people, decide whether you want to make changes.
- Revise: after your site has been up for a while and you get real, live clients, you may also find that it’s time to change your persona.
Keep it up close and personal: Find out everything you can about your persona and keep learning. Don’t let the relationship get stale. As you begin your business, or even if you are well in, make sure to take some time to think about who your ideal client is or will be, and get to know him or her very well.
COLIBRI keeps a photo and basic information about Heather on her desk. You should, too. Think about your persona every time you make a business decision, be it the hover color on your navigation or the words you choose in yours blog posts. Take home:
The idea that business is about relationships is not a cliché, it is a fact.
Relationships thrive on care and confidence. Or, you could say, love and trust. When you really care about someone, you think about their needs and, when you make promises, you deliver.
No doubt, you’ve heard about the Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would be done unto.”). That's a pretty good rule, as far as it goes, but COLIBRI follows the Platinum Rule, which is less famous but, she feels, more useful. The Platinum Rule: “Do unto others as they would be done unto.”
In plain ol' English, treat people how they want to be treated. Just because you like pistachio ice cream doesn’t mean your best friend does, too. So, are you really doing her a favor when you show up at her door with a pint? Besides, she’s on a diet!
Digging a little deeper, when you treat people how they want to be treated, you have to pay attention to them and what their needs are. You have to ask. You have to listen. And when it comes time to act, you do things that meet the other person's needs, not yours. Which means you bring your friend flowers to congratulate her on making it a whole week without any ice cream at all!
Your turn: Tell us about your persona. Who is he? What’s his favorite color?
PS Heather’s favorite color is red, in case you were thinking of getting her a Mother’s Day gift.