The Ultimate Guide To Practical Personas

by Micah Elerson

The Ultimate Guide To Practical Personas

You're throwing a dinner party, but instead of asking your friends about their dietary preferences, you assume they all love anchovies and proceed to serve a three-course meal centered around it. The result? A less-than-enthusiastic crowd and a lot of uneaten food.

Similarly, in the digital landscape, serving content without truly knowing your audience is like tossing those anchovies onto every plate. Welcome to our guide on "Practical Personas" – the secret ingredient to truly understanding your audience's taste and tailoring your marketing efforts accordingly.

What Are Practical Personas?

Unlike traditional personas that can sometimes feel like abstract sketches of imaginary customers, practical personas are like finely chiseled sculptures, forged from real-time, direct-from-consumer data.

Practical Personas aren't just about giving brands a "feel" for their audience. They're about actionable, data-driven insights that can pivot on a dime. Derived from direct-from-consumer data, they serve as operational powerhouses. It's all about asking the right questions at the right time that push the customer journey forward.

Each piece of DFC data you collect is crafted to unlock a specific aspect of your customer's identity. And as these pieces come together, the picture of your customer's journey becomes clear and vibrant. So, instead of wandering aimlessly hoping your marketing connects, Practical Personas help you take every step with purpose and direction.

Traditional VS. Practical Personas

Now, let’s dive into the arena where tradition meets innovation, where the age-old ways of crafting customer profiles square off against a new paradigm that's as nimble as it is insightful: the showdown between traditional and practical personas.

You're trying to complete a complex puzzle, but you're given just a handful of pieces. That's the traditional persona approach. You cobble together an image of your audience from the fragments you've managed to collect, and then you hope that this patchwork somehow mirrors reality. But here's the catch: it usually doesn't. Traditional personas often resemble Frankenstein's monsters of marketing, stitched together from snippets of data that can't capture the true essence of each individual customer.

These personas aren't just clunky; they're slow. It's like trying to race a vintage car against a sleek, modern sports car. The traditional approach involves conducting surveys, analyzing data, and deciphering customer responses. It's a process that can take months. By the time you've got your insights, the market might have shifted, rendering your hard-earned data outdated.

But, practical personas are not just profiles; they're roadmaps to immediate action. These personas don't dwell in the shadows; they're built on real-time, direct-from-consumer data. Each piece of information fits into a bigger picture of your customer's journey. And here's the kicker: every piece translates into at least one marketing action.

So, it's time to bid farewell to the sluggish, patchwork personas of the past and embrace the dynamic dance of practical personas. Ready to pivot at a moment's notice, driven by real-time data, and designed to hit the mark every time, they're the marketing revolution you've been waiting for.

Examples Of Practical Personas

So, how do you design a journey that fits everyone? This is where Fairing’s Question Stream® and Question Bank enter the scene. These tools work in tandem to bring practical personas to life for ecommerce brands and streamline the customer journey.

Now, let's break this down with some real-world scenarios to showcase how Fairing’s Question Stream® bridges the gap between brand narratives and consumer experiences.

“How Would You Describe Yourself?”

Recently, our CEO shared a story on a session on Subscription Radio about an electronics brand that was pretty confident that about 75% of your clientele consists of professionals. To validate their assumptions, they simply popped the question to their shoppers: “How would you describe yourself?”

In just 48 hours, the narrative dramatically shifted! The professionals, whom they believed were their core audience, only constituted 20% of their total clientele. This fresh perspective opened new avenues for diversifying their approach and finetuning their message. With Fairing, we've seen brands experience these eureka moments time and again. It's revelations like these that make us urge brands to pop this question early on, perhaps even during your 14-day free trial .

But, what next? With segmentation based on responses, brands can craft messages that resonate like a well-tuned guitar. Imagine knowing precisely where each segment hangs out online. Students on Reddit? Professionals on podcasts? These insights can transform your ad placements, ensuring you're talking directly to your audience. Couple this with analyzing metrics like the Average Order Value (AOV) for different segments, and you've got a roadmap that not only guides you but ensures you're on the highway to ROI heaven.

“Who Is This Purchase For?”

Let's embark on another journey. A post-purchase survey question that seems so simple, yet when asked, it unravels layers of insights like peeling an onion. The question being, “Who is this purchase for?” Here's our go-to list of responses:

  • Myself
  • Friend or family member
  • Co-worker or client
  • Other

If a customer ticks any box other than "Myself", you've identified them as a buyer, not necessarily an end-user. Such distinctions allow brands to tailor marketing campaigns with a scalpel's precision. After all, someone gifting your product to a friend is already halfway down the rabbit hole; with the right nudge, they might just become a customer themselves.

Further segmentation of this buyer group could sharpen your performance metrics. A clearer distinction between 'Buyers' and 'Users' can provide invaluable insights into engagement trends. With follow-up questions in your Fairing Question Stream®, and you can unearth gems like:

  • "What nudged you to purchase this product?" can unravel the driving factors for your gift-purchasing patrons.
  • "Would you ever fancy this product for yourself?" directly confronts the potential for conversion.
  • "How would you pitch this product to the recipient?" is akin to unlocking a treasure chest of customer-generated taglines and keywords.

“How Are You Planning To Use Our Product?”

Incorporating a question like this into your Question Stream®? It’s an opportunity to reveal layers of consumer intentions. Let's say you're selling mushroom coffee, your proposed use-cases might be:

  • Getting a healthier start to my day
  • Trying an interesting alternative food
  • Saving money by brewing at home

Your customers, in revealing their intent, are also subtly hinting at their preferences. Maybe the 'Money Savers' would appreciate a bulk buy discount, while the 'Adventurous Eaters' might jump at an early-bird offer for new flavors. In essence, practical personas are not just about understanding; it’s about making each customer feel seen and valued.

What Are The Benefits of Practical Personas

Alright, we've journeyed through the "what" and "how" of practical personas, but let’s talk about the “why.” Why should you trade your comfy old shoes (traditional personas) for these sleek, new running trainers? Here's why:

  • Better Customer Experience : Imagine walking into a store, and the shelves seem to rearrange themselves according to your preferences. That's the magic of practical personas. It's like having a one-on-one conversation in a crowded room, where every word carries weight and meaning. From a quick recommendation that brightens their day to a nudge that transforms a prospect into a delighted customer – practical personas ensure your marketing strikes the right chord at the right moment.
  • Increased Customer Retention : We all love places where we feel ‘known’, right? Those cafes where the barista remembers our usual order, or that bookstore which always recommends the perfect read. This familiarity and personalized touch lead to loyalty. In the digital space, practical personas do just that – they remember, they recognize, and they make customers come back for more.
  • Streamlined Customer Journey : Practical personas are the guides that steer your customers smoothly from the first glance to the final purchase and beyond. No more stumbling around in the dark; no more disjointed experiences that leave them frustrated. Practical personas light the path, offering a seamless route that turns curious onlookers into loyal advocates. From awareness to conversion, every step is part of a well-crafted journey.


So, as we draw the curtains on our exploration of personas, let's take a moment to look back at our journey. We started with traditional personas—comfortable, familiar, but let's be honest, a bit out of touch. Like old photos in a dusty album, they provide snapshots of moments gone by. On the other hand, practical personas are like a live-stream of your customers’ preferences.

Now, if you're reading this and thinking, "Well, that sounds fantastic, but where do I start?", here's your cue. If you're yet to experience the Fairing magic, consider this your golden ticket. Dive into a 14-day free trial and see how collecting direct-from-consumer data can reshape your brand's narrative. Or, if you fancy a deeper dive into the Fairing world, why not book a demo?

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