Cheat Sheet: Making Customer Personas

What is a Customer Persona?

A customer persona is a detailed visual and written representation of the target early customer segment. When you are building a customer persona, you are creating a human being with actual problems, goals, and behaviors within specific environments.

The customer persona is a useful tool in answering “Who is my customer?” The customer persona does so by acting as a consolidated repository of your assumptions, and newly acquired learnings about the customer.

How to Make a Customer Persona

Grab a sheet of blank paper.

Create four boxes by drawing horizontal and vertical lines across your paper. Write “Facts”, “Behaviors”, and “Needs & Goals” illustrated as below.

customer persona template

In the upper-left box, draw a picture of the customer. 

A good illustration should answer: What does the customer look like? How does the customer feel when experiencing the problem that you are trying to build a solution for? Where is the customer when it is experiencing the problem?

 customer persona example - bob

Remember to include the four key element of your visual representation of the customer: the customer’s name, a stick figure or pin figure of the customer, background on where the customer is experiencing its problem, a quote where the customer is stating how it feels when experiencing the problem.

This section provides a visual mnemonic. Naming the persona also helps the team communicate in a simple shorthand, e.g. “Sarah will need a simpler visual interface because she’s not comfortable on computers.”

On the bottom left, write down typical facts about the customer. 

customer persona example - facts

This part of the customer persona is focused capturing key factual attributes of your target early customer. This section should focus on attributes that are relevant to what does this customer looks like, prerequisites for the customer to experience the problem (e.g., owns three smartphones), etc. When in doubt, feel free to typical pieces of information such as age, income, job, location, and marital status.

Be specific! Don’t write an age range. Do not write “Bob is 20-25.” Instead, write “Bob is 23.” This section can be very helpful when creating screeners for recruiting customers.

In the top right, write down behaviors that the customer will usually exhibit.

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 11.48.14 PM

This part of the customer persona is focused on behaviors and activities that are closely tied to the customer problem that you are trying to build a solution for. These behaviors can be anything that leads the customer to experiencing or avoiding the problem or anything that would help you find (and talk to) these customers.

This section often provides good suggestions for marketing channels to reach the customer. e.g. “Reads blog posts on cryptography.”

In the bottom right, write down the customer’s goals when facing its problem.

customer persona example - goals

This part of the customer persona is focused on what the customer wants or desires (to happen) when trying to solve its problem. Remember that goals can range from change in emotion, physical state, social status, or some other personal or professional tangible outcome.

Try to be specific. “Be happy” is a bit too general. What would make the customer feel happy?

But don’t be too specific. “A button the the left side of the screen to filter search results” is just a feature request. Why does the customer want to filter the search results?

You now have a customers persona!

Customer Persona Example - Foot Pain 

Additional Reading

Customers and Causality