OK, you don’t need a persona to operate a content business. Maybe you already have an audience, or perhaps you’re just incredibly lucky. But for most, personas are vital to understanding your ideal customers, their media habits, and how you should speak to them.

Developing personas leads to a deeper understanding of your audience. That understanding will help you develop marketing and products that meet their expectations, ultimately turning potential customers into true fans.

To get an assist in the process, you can add another popular technique – ChatGPT or some other generative AI tool. So, let’s start with these five things to develop an audience persona.

1. Know the value: An audience (or buyer) persona is a detailed profile of your ideal audience member. If you have multiple targeted audience segments, you might create a few. A persona is similar to a character sketch a fiction author might create; only this is for the real people you think will enjoy and engage with your content.

Fleshing out personas will help you improve your marketing, find potential new audiences to pursue, and strengthen your content to ensure it works better for your audience.

2. Document what you know: Before you use an AI tool, you should detail what you know about your audience. Record that information on a spreadsheet. For example, if you target a business audience, you’ll want to know more about them. What do they do professionally? What are their roles or duties at work? What industries do they operate in? What are their go-to content resources? Do they prefer audio or video content? What are their professional goals? What is their salary range? Come up with and answer the questions most relevant to understanding your audience.

Here’s a worksheet designed for authors that you can adapt to create your personas.

3. Make your prompt(s): Now that you’ve gathered the information you know or can surmise about your audience, you’re ready to develop that into a persona. Here’s a sample prompt:

Create a persona for a business professional who works in marketing and is looking to improve their skills. List their roles, learning budget, what they look for in content and other interests, and include their preferred social media platforms.

Take the results (likely to be rough, if not downright bad) and compare them to your worksheet. Look for similarities and differences, paying extra attention to anything on your worksheet you know applies to your readers but the AI missed.

Make a list of everything you think the persona is missing. Now you’re ready for your second prompt:

Create this persona again, this time including the following characteristics: [paste your list here].

You can (and should) edit these prompts to fit your needs and expectations.

4. Refine your persona: After working and reworking your prompt and the output, you should have a rough persona that encompasses basic demographic information and personal likes and wants that reflect the type of person who will buy your content.

The final step is to refine that persona into a short list or blurb. Here’s my final version of the example:

Deshawn is a marketer who spends two or more hours a week consuming content to advance their skills. He enjoys podcasts but also subscribes to a handful of newsletters about general marketing. Deshawn frequently spends time on LinkedIn to connect with other marketers and belongs to Slack communities to engage with other professionals in the manufacturing industry. He travels to one in-person conference a year and has purchased an online course in the past. He also enjoys gaming online.

This short description paints the picture of a marketer who is eager to advance their skills and prefers certain formats with some budget available to invest in professional education.

5. Test your persona: If you see anything unusual or unexpected in the persona, check to ensure it aligns with what you know about your existing customers. You could use a tool like SparkToro to get a sense of other sites your customers visit. You also can use tools like Google Analytics to understand the facts about your audience.

Next, after incorporating the persona into your content planning and marketing strategy, assess its accuracy regularly. Your persona might say your ideal reader is on Reddit, but you might see that you’re getting better returns from Facebook ads. In that case, you might want to experiment with Reddit to see if you can find where your ideal audience lives while maintaining ads and posts on Facebook. With that understanding, you should update your persona.

For most creators, this exercise should be repeated three or more times, and a few different personas should be created to encompass all of your consumers – from the casual audience member to the die-hard super fan.

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About the author

Paul is the Senior Content Manager at Lulu. When he's not entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person but considers himself cat tolerant.