Developing Digital Personas

Developing Digital Personas

Developing Digital Personas

Developing Digital Personas

The topic for this issue of Studio News will focus on ‘Developing Digital Personas’. I have decided to write about this topic in direct response to requests from companies I have spoken to over the last number of months. Quite a number of these companies were very dubious about the effectiveness of social media communication, due to the low response rate or engagement they were achieving themselves.


When we looked into this with them in more detail, it was clear they were blanket posting 3-4 times per week with no sense of strategy, targeting or action behind the posts. There are a number of challenges within this statement, but for the purposes of this article, I will focus only on the importance of beginning all digital activity with the customer in mind, followed by a very clear, systematic and measurable targeting strategy.

So what is a Digital Persona?

A persona is a fictional character that has been developed to capture the main characteristics of your target audience. A Digital Persona takes this one step further, and includes how the target market use and interact online. The Irish Digital Marketing Institute defines a digital persona as “a profile that represents your ideal customer. By creating your own buyer personas, you’ll gain the ability to tailor your marketing efforts and connect with your target audience to meet their needs and solve their problems”. The objective of developing a detailed persona is to facilitate effective communication, engagement and action – it really is that simple!


Its important to bear in mind that most companies and products have a number of different target markets, all with very different needs. With that in mind, it is critical to develop a persona to represent each of your target markets. Remember however that three to four buyer personas usually account for over 90% of your company’s sales, so your focus needs to be on these.

A persona is a fictional character that has been developed to capture the main characteristics of your target audience.

So where do I Start?

Your first task will be to give each of your personas a name; while this might come across as a bit corny and perhaps not even relevant, by actually naming your persona, you bring them to life. This will encourage you to humanize your marketing efforts. Don’t worry about having every characteristic 100% correct – even within clearly defined target markets, individual behaviours will vary. Go with what you feel are the most representative characteristics and the insights will emerge from these.

By actually naming your persona, you bring them to life

Once you have chosen your persona names, get going on the following data:

Job Title/Role

• Within the business context, focus on their company size, sector, etc

• Within a personal context, focus on their role – working mum/dad, stay at home mum/dad


• Age

• Gender

• Salary or combined household income

• Location: urban, suburban or rural region

• Level of education

• Family size

Goals and Challenges

• What drives your target market in their work life?

• What drives your target market in their personal life?

• What do they find challenging?

• How can you/your business help them?


• Main personal and work values

• Common objections during sales process

Personal Life

• Hobbies

• Online behaviour

• Where they get their news

• Blogs they read

• Social media channels they use

Marketing Message

Well done – you have now defined your 3-4 business personas! Think about how you might describe or communicate your product or services to each of these personas. Put your knowledge and information to use and determine the best ways to meet the needs of each type of customer.

Where do I get all this Information on my Target Audience?

If you’re reading this thinking, all very well, but I actually don’t have access to a lot of that information, fear not! Most of this information is readily available (If however you find you really don’t have access to some of the resources below, it might be time to review your market and customer intelligence systems).


A very good tool to help you with defining your digital persona’s is Social Bakers. This tool provides artificial intelligence software which can analyse your social media and website audience to provide you with some very accurate insights.

Put your knowledge and information to use and determine the best ways to meet the needs of each type of customer.

Your Website

Your web developer is likely to have set up google analytics when your website went live; if not, this is something to ask them to do immediately. Google Analytics is a free tool, and provides a wealth of information about your customers across a wide spectrum of variables. Key information that Google Analytics will tell you includes your digital customer’s age, gender, affinity and technology (and loads more besides).


These statistics will give you a fantastic start on developing your personas – you can see where your visitors came from, what keywords they used to find you, and how long they spent once they arrived. You will also be able to discern the key reason your audience visited your site as well as the tools they used to get there.

Social media Channels

You can also find out a lot about your various customer groups on your social media channels. Use social media listening to find your potential customers asking questions or airing problems your product can solve on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram.

Involve your Team in Creating Profiles

Get your entire team together — all disciplines should feed into this process. Anyone with interactions with customers and customer data should be involved in sharing their perspective on what makes your customers tick.

Use social media listening to find your potential customers

Ask your Audience Questions

While this can be time-consuming, there is nothing better than asking your customers direct questions when developing their personas! Who knows your customers better than they know themselves? Surveys and interviews are often a critical component to building a useful marketing persona. In particular, interviews can reveal deep insight into your customers since you can really dig into their answers and follow up with the goals, values, and pain points that will resonate the most with them.


So get started on defining your target market personas this week – it will take some time to master, but keeping the ‘reason why’ close to your process will allow for a really effective outcome.


We’d love to hear your thoughts on personas and any experience you have had developing them; any queries you have, we’d be delighted to have a chat with you.

Contact Sheila

What first impression is your business making online?

What first impression is your business making online?

First impressions last

We have all heard the old expression “first impressions last”. This statement should be ringing in the ears of every business owner and Managing Director when it comes to their business. This old expression still rings true but the times have definitely changed for businesses. Now there are many more opportunities for a business to make an impression with their market than ever before!

If you own or run a business where you meet and sell to customers face to face then you are fully aware of the importance of the interactions that your business has with your customers. You wouldn’t show up to a meeting with a client with a ripped shirt and you wouldn’t have your shop untidy and dirty when the doors are open to the public. Would you?

Every interaction a potential customer has with your business should be a positive experience, especially if it forms their first impression of your businesses. There are many other businesses out there competing for the same customer spend as you are. It is extremely difficult to change a potential customers perception of your business, especially if it is a negative perception.

The majority of businesses are very good when it comes to the traditional ways that customers interact with businesses. However, many businesses don’t place enough importance on the impression they leave with their market online.

Nowadays, a large proportion of customers do their research online before making a purchase through a company website or visiting a shop or office and making a physical transaction. Customers also receive recommendations by friends on social media when their friends share company posts and like business pages. What impression does your website or Facebook page give about your business?

Make your website presence a positive experience

If you have a website for your business then you need to look at it through the eyes of your target market. You need to ask yourself what your website says about your business. Websites that are outdated and difficult to navigate will not paint a very good picture with website visitors. Businesses need to capture attention fast, never more so than online where patience is a rare commodity and a competitors website is only a Google search query away.

Always make sure that your website reflects the values of your business. Seemingly small oversights such as spelling errors and grammar mistakes can seriously impact a potential customers perception of your business. Also, it is important to post blogs regularly to highlight the expertise that your business offers and more importantly to emphasis that your website is continuously updated.

If the last blog you posted on your website is a couple of years ago, you may be giving the wrong message to website visitors. Potential customers may assume that your website has outdated content and that your business is not currently operating. Keep your blog posts regular and don’t leave massive time gaps between posts.

Don’t forget about social media accounts

Social media channels often provide the first point of contact that a potential customer has with your business. People are a lot more likely to purchase from a business if they receive recommendations from a friend or their network on social media. This is why it is so important to keep your social media accounts like Facebook up to date with eye catching imagery as these pages can be shared and are easily accessible on social media and search engines.

When it comes to social media you must always be vigilant

When it comes to social media you must always be vigilant when it comes to your actual social media page and when you are posting content on these pages. On the social media page, you should strive to have nice imagery for the profile picture and banner as they usually form the first impression a visitor has when they land on a social media page. Other elements are extremely important too such as having Facebook Reviews set up on your Facebook page and putting your strongest reviews to the top.

It goes without saying (which I will anyway), you should always keep your business profile on social media updated regularly. Your description should highlight what makes your business different and it should always have the correct link to your website and contact details. It is also essential that you post content on social media regularly. If your last post has been a few months ago then it looks like you have abandoned the page!

When it comes to social media posts, you should be extremely aware of the reach these posts have the potential of receiving. Your primary objective when posting on social media should be to share content that you would like your audience to like, share and comment on. When your audience interacts with your post they increase the potential of a new customer finding out about your business for the first time. This will be their first impression of your business!

Your primary objective when posting on social media should be to share content that you would like your audience to like, share and comment on.

As with all first impressions, you want to give off the right impression. This is why it is essential that your profile image that accompanies your posts has your branding (and it looks well). The content of the post should never have spelling errors. If you upload an image with your post (especially a picture you have taken of your staff or products), the image should be clear and not blurry.

Always make sure that the image you include with your post reflects positively for your business and you should be very aware of what is captured in the background of a picture. It is worth double checking a picture as there may be something in the background that you may not want your audience to see such as customer details on a staff members computer screen.

Get the right advice

It is highly recommended to carry out regular reviews of your offline and online presence every few months through secret shoppers or an online audit. If you are not sure of how your business is being perceived by your target market, it may be worth seeking some professional advice.

We hope you found this blog interesting and please let us know if you have any questions or feedback.

Contact Jonathan

IDI Mind Over Matter 2018

Mind Over Matter

Mind Over Matter | Marla Communications

Márla Communications at IDI Mind Over Matter 2018

A day to draw awareness to mental health supported by local design agencies

Mental Health

A national day of design in aid of mental health, Mind Over Matter, took place on 10th October 2018 in locations across Ireland. The initiative, in association with Aware, enabled business owners to donate a fee in return for 1 hour of design consultation.

Design Experience

With the wealth of design knowledge on offer throughout the country, this fee for a good cause was a win win. Members of the Márla Design team Lee Grace (Creative Director) and Paul Whelan (Graphic Designer) were at hand to share their design skills and expertise to their donating companies.

Márla Communications Bookings

Lee’s first booking was with John Halley of John Fogarty RE/MAX Waterford. Within just an hour they had discussed brand tactics, SEO implementation basics and an overall web review. Lee’s other booking was with Barry Kerrigan of Kerrigans Craft Butchers who kindly donated but could not attend on the day. Paul’s booking was with James O’Brien of Incrowd Wedding Music. James and Paul fleshed out branding ideas and discussed web visuals and layout.

Giving Back

Both Paul and I really enjoyed being part of this initiative again this year; coming from a design background, we understand how critically important your company image is. We were delighted to have the opportunity to help businesses on the day, while contributing to much needed support for mental health programmes.As businesses, it is vital that we all are conscious of our own social responsibility, and be aware of the potential support we can give to the wider community, through the provision of what we do best. We look forward to taking part in this very worthwhile initiative again next year!

Contact Our Design Team

Márla Communications Banner - Successful Team

Keep your Team Motivated!

Márla Communications Banner - Motivated Team

Keep your Team Motivated!

Success won’t happen if your team are not part of it!

As a business owner and employer, I’ve no doubt I join millions of businesses worldwide in the quest to understand how to maximise employee team motivation and productivity…so I thought it might be useful to share my own experience in this month’s blog. In order to provide a totally transparent and representative viewpoint, I’ve written this with input from my team, so I’ve nowhere to hide! When you’ve had a chance to ponder the content, we’d love to hear your thoughts and your own experience in this area.

The simple fact is that happy employees make motivated, productive employees – this fact is universally accepted as one of the basic tenants of a successful business. But what does a happy employee mean? We would be forgiven for jumping to the conclusion that financial remuneration is the primary factor to consider here; my own experience, and indeed the experience of our team, indicates that employee team motivation goes much deeper than this.

To add some context to this article, I’ve selected what I feel are the most important factors to consider, starting with the physical work environment.

The Physical Work Environment

The physical workspace includes everything – it’s the art that hangs on the walls, the office floor plan, the demographics of the people we work with, and any physical perks we might get such as wonderful coffee, or a lounge area that employees can use to unwind a bit.

When we moved into our existing offices some four years ago, we quickly assembled our desks, set up all our IT requirements, put some artwork on the walls, and got straight back to work. We were all quite happy with our new surroundings, but agreed we needed to add ‘something more’ to the studio at some point; however with a (thankfully) hefty workload, the studio environment became less of a priority list… until a few months ago.

We came to work one morning, looked around and thought – this needs to change! Within a few short weeks, we had a vision of a workspace that was bright, energetic, positive, creative – all the core values of our own business. Floors came up, new electronic desks were deemed a must have, paint colours were consulted, plants were discussed, and before long, we could see our new world coming together.

Motivated Team - New Studio Picture

And the difference is..?

Visually, we are delighted with our new surroundings – however the benefits of our new surroundings go much deeper than this…which is the main purpose of this blog. The following are just some of the immediate benefits we all agreed on:

• Pride in our surroundings – increased immeasurably!
• Spring in our step on the way to work
• Health & Wellness – our investment in electronic desks, bright colours and new lighting provides a much softer and inviting work environment
• And a nice and not to be dismissed addition for our return on investment – increased activity, motivation and monthly billing

Visually, we are delighted with our new surroundings

Other important factors include…

I will come to financial rewards later, but first want to touch on some of the softer measures that have created immense loyalty in our team; I think the caveat for all of these is that trust is key – and that this goes both ways.

Flexibility – Coming to work Monday to Friday, sitting at the same desk, drinking from the same cup, looking out the same window becomes monotonous very quickly; create an environment that allows team members to work at home, meet clients in their offices, or go to a coffee shop to get their work done. Breaking up the day or the week not only makes for happier employees, it allows for enhanced creative thinking and outside influence. I firmly believe it doesn’t matter where the work is done, as long as it’s done.

Part-Time/Full-time – I’m a strong believer in getting the work-life balance right. If this means some employees work a set number of days per week, but absolutely deliver in those days, go for it! By providing a less than conventional approach to the working week yields a considerable long-term return.

Communication – If you are running a relatively small operation as I am, you may make the mistake of assuming you know what your team are thinking. Don’t Assume! While informal communication is great as part of the day to day running of the business, I would highly recommend that all businesses (no matter what size) have a formal communication process. This includes an annual appraisal process that allows for objective feedback and discussion in a structured environment.

Formalise all Processes – As an extension of the above point, we all work better if guided by a formal, structured process of weekly meetings and project management processes.

Financial Involvement & Ownership – Why have I left financial reward to the end when most employees would suggest this is their most important consideration? I am not disputing this for one minute – if the financial rewards are not attractive, no amount of free coffee or flexible working hours will compensate for that. So yes, financial rewards must reflect the position, contribution and overall performance of each team member.

However, I would caution that financial reward in itself is not enough – if the ‘softer’ elements are not present, if your team do not enjoy coming to work, they will move. There is nothing more certain.

I’m a strong believer in getting the work-life balance right.

I have added ownership to this final point, as there is such a strong link between ownership and performance. This is not about giving employees company ownership, more about ownership of the overall business performance (and the part they play in achieving this). If employees can directly impact on the business performance, and be rewarded accordingly, their motivation, loyalty and output will be considerable and sustainable.

In summary: Employees who enjoy and like the environments they are a part of will be more engaged, productive, happy, and healthy. So check out your workspace, look at your team in an objective manner, ask yourself ‘am I a motivating influence?’ Invest in your people and their work environment, it will absolutely deliver a expediential return on investment. I promise you!

I’d love to hear from you so leave me a comment below.

fuse:d | Marla Communications


Mission Statement

fuse:d – A design and business network

  • The ultimate aim of fuse:d is to establish a design and business network to raise awareness of the profile and value that design adds to differentiate, compete, grow and inspire innovation in our communities.
  • We have a goal to create a network of designers that nourish, collaborate, inspire and ignite change together. We want to introduce this energy and innovation to the wider business community.
  • The Policy Framework for Design in Enterprise in Ireland published in response to ID2015 identified opportunities where the design sector plays a significant role to the Irish economy. The policy framework sets out six key area for growth within the design sector and fuse:d has adopted the policy framework as the context for establishing a design and business network in Waterford and South East.
  • Advocate the role of design as an economic driver of innovation within the design community, and business sector, and the public domain.
  • Promote and encourage collaboration between designers of all disciplines to share, scale and maximise opportunities to achieve economies of scale.
  • Facilitate access to design training in the design community and the wider business community.
  • Collaborate with enterprises, authorities and other design networks to raise the profile of Waterford as the design and innovation centre of excellence in the South East.
  • Support, promote and encourage a vibrant and sustainable design culture and community in Waterford and the South East through engagement and improving design & business skills in the design sector.
  • Identify and support opportunities to develop design career path which will increase the participation of females in design roles.

  • Design Island 2015

    Design Island 2015

    Check out this excellently animated video about the impact Design Ireland 2015 has had this year, it’s quite impressive!

    They have exhibited over 300 nationwide, and over 160 internationally. Add to that over 180 products, and there’s been 20 million euro generated.

    h2>Design Island 2015 – the year when design took over Ireland! How has design impacted your daily life? Are you aware of the design world around you?

    Over 174,000 have seen Irish design at 12 international exhibitions, while 46 million people in Dublin Airport have seen the portraits of our designers, craftspeople, and artisans.

    200 projects and 40 companies have been funded, and the spin-offs of publications, events, conferences, and exhibitions have made this an exciting place to be. Of course, the Design Island app too.”

    Irish Design 2015 was about harnessing this power and working to support society; educators and students; designers; the public sector; and businesses.

    Through our year-long programme of events, we worked towards:

    raising the profile of Irish design, at home and abroad increasing awareness of the value of design in all aspects of life building on the international reputation of Irish design encouraging links between local and global Irish designers showcasing the importance of design to success in business and as a driver of economic growth

    Make DesignMatter 2015