The Solitude of Northern Ontario Taught Me A Few Things About Developing Characters (and Customer Personas)
Last week, I drove nearly six hours north of Toronto to a remote lodge on a lake surrounded by nothing but Canadian boreal forest.
It’s one of those spots that not only makes a great set for a horror story, but also the perfect place to find peace and solitude.
It’s also a great place to write.
And that’s what I did up there; sat at a desk—and sometimes on a Muskoka chair—and wrote, working on a horror novel that continues to fall on the back burner. But up there, working on my manuscript became a priority.
Specifically, I worked on developing characters; understanding what makes them tick. I’m talking everything from their motivations, greatest strengths to greatest weaknesses and their individual quirks.
Marketers are familiar with this. We often create individual personas that define our ideal customer. Understanding who your customer is creates alignment around messaging when developing marketing campaigns. It helps with delivering the right services and with creating better products that address the needs of customers.
But what does it take to create a customer persona?
Consider the Customer Details
If developing fictional characters has taught me anything, it’s that being as detailed as possible is the way to go. Detail helps you develop a clearer picture of who your customer is, and it goes beyond just listing demographics. Because two people who are the same age, gender and race could have completely different lived experiences that make them behave in strikingly different ways.
Consider the Customer Journey
Each of the characters in my horror story are in different stages of their lives. And as marketers, we know that customers in different stages comes to the buyer’s journey. A customer looking to solve a problem your company provides is in a whole different headspace than a customer who has signed up for your podcast and newsletter. Considering the motivations of customers at the various stages of the buyer’s journey goes a long way in developing an accurate customer persona.
Consider Standardizing Your Customer Personas
Scaling your marketing efforts in mid- to large-sized companies comes with its own set of challenges. It’s why marketing departments should consider creating templates around customer personas, which can be used consistently during marketing campaigns or when developing products and experiences. Marketing is everything connected to the process of profitability and one way to remain profitable is ensure efficient use of resources and time. Creating customer persona templates helps with that.
The similarities between creating fictional characters and developing customer personas are uncanny. The success in developing either lies in being as detailed as possible and recognizing where in the journey your customer/character stands.
I help companies grow by telling their stories.