Fictional and Detailed Personas Help us Know our Customers Inside Out

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Photo by Analise Benevides on Unsplash

To tell a great story, the novelist has to make believable, relatable characters. They need to know their character inside-out, even their contradictions and inner yearnings.

What is the character trying to achieve? What is thwarting them?

The novelist creates tension and then relieves it.

Selling a product or service to a ‘customer’ or prospective client requires the same kind of insights. We also need to understand the psychology of those who will move us forward. Instead of making a Character Profile, we can make a Client Persona.

What is a Client Persona?

A Client Persona is a fictional representation of the demographics, psychographics, attitudes, challenges, and needs of a customer.

Client Personas are based on both real evidence from interviews and conversations, as well as some educated speculation.

It is usually necessary to create a Client Persona for each type of client that exists in your market. This allows you to group certain customers into buckets or ‘types’. This is also known as segmentation.

Our personas are not something we make publicly available or share outside our business. They are internal tools to help guide us in our business services and marketing decisions.

What value are Client Personas?

By ‘personifying’ your customers into an archetype (or ‘avatar’) it is much easier for us to feel that we are speaking directly to a person. This helps us to remain sensitive and aware of their underlying motivations and needs.

Our product or service needs to connect with our clients in a meaningful way.

Ideally, our brand needs to help bridge a gap between how they see themselves and how they want to see themselves. Or, it needs to be the bridge between their goal and their struggle.

Beautiful young woman in park in Autumn
Beautiful young woman in park in Autumn
Photo by Bruce Mars on Pexels

How to Build Client Personas

When we are selecting a target market, we need both quantitative data (all the quantities and amounts) and qualitative. This is open-ended, exploratory, non-numerical research. It gives richer insights. From these insights, we can make a meaningful connection with our client.

Our Brand: A Trusted Friend
Our brand needs to speak to her (the Persona) as a Trusted Friend and Confidante.

How to do research for our Client Personas

There are websites that can help in developing these personas, in terms of tastes and habits. If you have a Twitter following, go to Analytics > Users > and you will see a collection of data about preferences. Also, Statista has international data, and there are many others.

If you are using existing customers or target people who fit the profile, the best kinds of deep research for this are not focus groups. There are all sorts of dynamics that work across groups like this and usually involve one person dominating the conversation, with others, meekly nodding in agreement or withdrawing completely.

It is better to do this kind of exploratory research on a one-to-one basis. Listen deeply. It need not be a formal interview, it could be a conversation.

Depth Interviews may help unlock deep-seated psychological drivers that may be unspoken.

Client Persona Questions

Download the template Download Worksheet

  1. Name
  2. Age
  3. Locality
  4. Living situation (married, children, with parents, alone)
  5. Health situation
  6. Personality
  7. Career/Job
  8. Education level
  9. Hobbies and interests
  10. What media do they consume?
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Photo by Taylor Smith on Unsplash


  1. How do they see themselves?
  2. How would they LIKE to see themselves?

Goals and Challenges

  1. CHALLENGES: what is a daily challenge? What is a deeper fear?
  2. What is their LIFE GOAL?

Thinking about your Product, Service or Category

  1. What are their NEEDS (functionally and emotionally)?
  2. What is important to them in your category?
  3. How can your product help them achieve their life goals or remove the challenge/frustration?

Flesh Them Out

Next, give them a Name and a Face.

Give them a voice and their own words e.g. use first-person.

By diving under the surface of demographics and thinking about how Rebecca sees herself and would like to see herself, we can use our offering to bridge that gap

Your Turn: Client Personas

Build your own client personas for your one, two or three archetypical clients. Remember, these should each be different in that they are the human embodiment of a specific type of need.

Parting Words

A lot of characters in novels seem to leap from the pages because they’re so real. You have this chance to make your ads or marketing communications leap out when you connect with the persona.

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Originally published at on June 14, 2019.

Written by

Writes about strategy, storytelling, messaging, and communication…Prone to bouts of fiction.

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