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Create personas - segment customers and target groups

A persona is the ideal representative of a target group. Personas are at the heart of customer-centric work, a key requirement for good marketing and the development of products and services.

In this article I will show you how a persona is structured and on which characteristics you can create your own personas.

Definition of personas

Personas (Latin for mask) are fictional descriptions of selected representatives of a target group. This means that a single persona represents the characteristics and usage behavior of an entire target group. There are usually 3-8 personas in each project. The description of the persona begins with the name, goes through socio-demographic to behavior-related characteristics.

The advantage of personas

Abstract markets and target groups can be experienced with personas. The description of the living environment of your target groups gives you and your team the chance to understand the user better, to identify with them and, above all, to develop a common understanding of their needs. Based on this understanding, it will be easier for you to develop valuable offers, services and products.

Areas of application of personas

Personas are a very universal tool and always useful if you have to meet the needs of several target and stakeholder groups or if you are striving for a uniform understanding of user requirements in a project team. Here are a few selected use cases:

  • Development of new products and services
  • Process optimization and system implementation
  • Development of marketing strategies and campaigns
  • Customer segmentation e.g. when working with the Business Model Canvas or the Agile Project Canvas

On the methodical side, personas are an ideal addition to customer journey mapping or the formulation of user stories.

Building a persona

A persona is as colorful as we humans are. In order to make it tangible, you charge it with properties and features that make sense for your context and your question.

The following list offers you an initial suggestion as to which questions you can use to create your personas.

Personal characteristics

These personal characteristics are the basis for creating your persona. They are something like a basic profile that gives your personas an initial profile:

  • Name (true to life, so please no “Max Mustermann”)
  • Age
  • photo
  • Hobbys and Interests
  • marital status
  • Living environment (urban, rural, expat, etc.)

job and education

Especially if you are active in B2B markets, these features are of particular importance and weight:

  • job
  • training
  • Actual position
  • Professional goals
  • Background / professional development
  • What describes the current work situation?

Digital experience

For projects with a digital reference, these questions offer good characteristics of how the persona deals with technology and digital media.

  • Which digital services does the persona use?
  • Is the persona a first mover or a latecomer when introducing new gadgets?
  • How “tech affine” is the persona in the private vs in the professional environment?

Goals and desires

Goals and desires provide information about what drives and motivates your persona. In other words, these motivations provide information about why your performance can be important for a persona.

Personally, I'm a big fan of the Jobs Theory. When creating personas, I therefore look for features that provide information about why a persona uses services in a certain category. Or just not do it. The motivation for the use or the “non consumption” are a valuable characteristic for working out the goals and wishes of your persona.


The everyday life of your persona is guaranteed to be marked by a lot of frustrations. They hinder your persona from achieving their goals. These “pain points” are revealing features that show you potential with regard to the provision of your service.

As with the other questions and characteristics, the frustrations of your persona should give you an idea of ​​how the everyday life of your persona is shaped.


Activities describe recurring activities of your persona in their professional or private everyday life when completing their tasks or achieving their goals. In order to highlight the activities better, you can also use typical user journeys.

How do you develop your personas?

The creation of personas requires a personal examination of your target groups. On the basis of the qualitative and quantitative data, you develop complete images of your representative users over various stages.

Step 1: Ad hoc or Minimum Viable Persona (MVP)

Based on your knowledge and assumptions, you will create a first persona ad hoc. Based on the term “minimum viable product”, this first version of your persona is, so to speak, your minimum viable persona (MVP). Especially in the very early phases of your project, minimum viable personas can quickly provide clarity and a common understanding.

These first drafts of your persona are a good start, but they are not the goal of creating your personas. Because only on the basis of discussions and a real discussion with the customer will the picture and the composition of your personas be clarified.

Step 2: develop questions

Before you engage in personal conversations with your users and potential customers, it helps to think about a few questions. Overall, it makes sense to primarily ask open W-questions, to let people talk and, above all, to observe a lot.

  • Who are you? whats your Name?
  • What did you learn, what kind of job do you do?
  • How is your private / professional everyday life?
  • Can you show me how to do [relevant task]?
  • What private / professional goals are you pursuing, what is important to you?
  • What is frustrating or preventing you from reaching your goals?
  • How do you deal with digital media, which services do you like to use?
  • ….

In the end, it's about having a normal conversation with the persona. Questions beyond the narrower context can also provide interesting conclusions for the creation of your persona. Real curiosity and interest in people are great prerequisites for a good conversation.

Step 3: generate data

At the desk you don't learn how the orangutan thinks.

Hasso Plattner

The basis of good personas are data that you gain from surveys, observations and interviews. On the basis of your questions, you go into direct discussion with your target group.

  1. Above all, let us show you how users deal with situations that are relevant to you
  2. Ask open-ended W-questions
  3. Reassure yourself "Did I understand you correctly that ..."
  4. Question and ask with "why" and "what for"

After the first interviews, you will quickly notice that certain patterns are emerging. On the basis of your first observations and interviews, you can then, for example, formulate user stories that you distribute to your personas using a structured questionnaire. Through a permanent iterative process, you will quickly have a solid database for creating your personas.

Personas are the cornerstone of customer-centric work. They are the prerequisite for developing a common understanding of the needs of your target groups as part of the team. And if you succeed in making personas the mouthpiece of the needs, fears and desires of your target groups, then you have already reached the first important milestone for the development of successful services and products.

Good luck with that.

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