Testing Personas in the Real World

Setting Objectives

You’ve got up early, put your most comfortable smart shoes on and set off into the sunrise for a day at.... an exhibition.

If you’re anything like me, that scenario will fill you with dread but setting out with the objective of testing personas means you can leave the exhibition with a real sense of achievement. No, you really can, I promise!

So what’s the point of testing personas at an exhibition, and how do you do it?

We know now that, by the time your potential customer has got in touch with you (or not!), they are so far down the process that it has become harder to influence them. This means that we need to reach these people before they know they need to make the purchase. 

We do this by understanding who we want to be our customers, what their profiles are and where they hang out. Collectively, these facts become your customer personas. There will be a number of personas all at different stages of the buying process, from totally Unaware, to Solution aware.

Exhibition visitors expect that, when they attend your stand, they are going to be sold to – not good.

We’ve all seen it: I really want that free pen/sweet/memory stick but if I go any where near the stand it means I need to endure ‘the pitch’. 

How about when visitors come to your stand, rather than asking them if they need your product, you ask them what they are hoping to get out of their day?

What if you ask them what challenges they face in their business today? What is the biggest frustration that they have on a daily basis? These questions all allude to PAIN.

Going Deeper

To test the persona, we need to delve slightly deeper. What does this challenge actually mean to them? How does that affect your day? What is the impact of that?

Let’s look at an example:

A Care Home Manager is asked: “What is your biggest issue?”. The answer: “Our waste machines block up all the time”.

  • Question: “What does that mean for you?”
  • Answer: “We have to wait for someone to fix it.” 
  • Question: “What does that mean to you?”
  • Answer: “We have to use another machine?”
  • Question: “What does that mean to you?”....
  • Answer: “It slows us down”... “What else?”… “The waste overflows and damages the carpet?”… “What does that mean…?”

You get the idea!

Golden Information

Going through this process is refreshing for the visitor, people love talking about their pains.

The upshot is you now have golden information. You now know what buttons to press when communicating with your personas.

When you are creating content, you can now write or present thought provoking insight. You can ask questions in your content that you know are going to strike a chord with your targeted audience.

Let’s look at the care home example – blog title: “What could you do with the time lost to blocked waste machines?”

So, next time you are asked to man the stand at your exhibition or asked to visit to do a reccy of the exhibitors, you can jump at the chance to find out all the cool stuff about your target audience and be the person that people want to speak to!

Want to look deeper into Personas?

Why not download your free guide to creating personas.

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