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Friday, Jan. 6, 2006 at 2:26 pm

How Many Personas Do You Need?

By Bryan Eisenberg
January 6th, 2006

In past columns, I’ve talked about creating personas and evaluating them. Today, I’ll explore how many personas are enough.

When clients ask us how many personas they should have, we typically tell them a handful — two to seven — is enough.

Not long ago, a client tried to identify its market segments and announced it would need 42 personas. After the uncovery process, we identified a need for 7 personas, not 42. The client was skeptical, believing we couldn’t address the needs of its entire customer base with only seven personas. We began creating scenarios for the personas, and the team realized one persona was so similar to another it wasn’t adding any value to the persuasion planning process. They suggested we remove that persona. We did, committing what we affectionately term “personacide.”

Uncovery can also introduce a persona that’s being ignored or overlooked by marketing or sales. Another client resisted using a persona we developed largely from a gap we identified researching its lost prospects. The team kept telling us, “This doesn’t seem like our customer.” We agreed, telling them they were failing to close this persona (or market opportunity) because its needs and motivations weren’t addressed by the current sales process. By creating new scenarios for this persona and staying aware of what it needed during sales calls, the client began to close more of these prospects types.

Continue reading my column at ClickZ…

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Comments (4)

  1. I’m having a tough time with this right now in my business, I find I don’t naturally speak to very many different types of customer. It’s a tough one to master on your own!

  2. @amandat – don’t feel bad. Almost everyone struggles with this… plenty of websites are slanted toward the “type” of person who created them!

  3. It’s not the number of peoples that matters But it’s our idea and our business model that matters we can do business with only one person also so it really depends on our business model.

  4. @math dictionary – we are not talking about number of people here. we are talking about sets of behaviors that describe the way those people buy your products. Yes, a strong business model is required for success. Yes, your business model can affect the way people buy from you. Still you will likely encounter more than one set of questions and motivations about your products among your prospects. If you haven’t yet, perhaps it’s because you are not speaking effectively to entire groups of potential buyers, as Bryan suggests in the 4th paragraph of the post.

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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

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