If you regularly read this blog, you know I enjoy all the content from NN/g (www.nngroup.com). They have developed the best paragraph describing personas I’ve ever read:
“Personas are a quick, empathy-inducing shorthand for our users’ context, motivations, needs, and approaches to using our products. They are meant to help us focus on what matters most to our users and put ourselves in their shoes when making design decisions. Because of this, they must always be rooted in a qualitative understanding of users and reflect the what and why that drives them.”
Boom. Done and done. There is one word from that definition that says it all: Empathy. The persona exercise in marketing is all about empathy. Empathy is the ability to remove your own biases and experiences and to imagine and feel what someone else thinks.
You have to feel their pain, know their hopes, understand their wants and do more than walk in their shoes; you have to center yourself in their lives. This is not compassion or sympathy. It is understanding what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference.
If you can’t empathize with another audience, you will have difficulty being a successful marketer. People with high empathy usually don’t say phrases such as, “I like that …” when talking about marketing executions. The empathetic marketer understands that their own likes may not align with the target audience. What you might hear is, “That message is right on target. … Our persona is going to love that. … You’ve matched with our persona’s dreams.”