When I teach people how to create a Persona – a real individual whose priorities will focus their fledgling startup’s product marketing (see Step 5 of the 24 Steps) – they are often afraid that the only source of such information is spending hours with the Persona asking detailed, probing questions. Talking with your Persona is, of course, the point of the exercise. But as one of my students at my recent Montreal workshop noted, there are some shortcuts that can help you get a more well-rounded picture of the Persona before talking directly with them.
Elaine from Zerospam, a fast-growing anti-spam company in Montreal, presented her company’s Persona, an IT manager who owned an IT solutions company in Calgary. (We’ll call him “Fred” to respect his privacy.) They knew everything about Fred – his wife, his kids, his kitchen remodeling four years ago, his least preferred form of communication (the telephone) and the websites he reads to learn about security software. They also knew what Fred feared the most and what motivated him the most.
I then asked about Fred’s “information watering holes.” These are the places (physical or electronic) where the Persona goes to meet other likeminded individuals, and gather and exchange information, including information relevant to their jobs. David, Zerospam’s CEO, was at the workshop, and quickly jumped in with a long list of watering holes, and said he could quickly get a list of even more.
I was impressed and asked how David could so quickly acquire this information. Was Fred an extremely close friend? David replied that while he knew Fred well, he did not need to talk to him to get most of this information. David could instead use his LinkedIn Gold account to access Fred’s LinkedIn profile and see what groups Fred belonged to. He could see who else was in the different groups, and then cross-check those individuals against Facebook to get more data.
There is a treasure trove of invaluable information out there that you can access extremely quickly, cheaply and easily on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google. Use these tools fully in s the 24 Steps to complement your primary market research about your target customer, particularly in Step 3 (End User Profile), Step 5 (Persona), and Step 9 (Next 10 Customers).