At THINK 15, strategy consultants Ivan Askwith and Jeanette Thebeau led a THINK Ahead planning workshop to help participants apply the latest consumer trends to their credit union planning for the year to come. In this video clip, Askwith and Thebeau explain the value of creating personas and invite participants to discuss some of the personas they developed as part of this exercise. Curious about personas? Read on.

Developing Personas

What makes your members tick? The question is simple, but the answers are likely to be complex. If you want to understand your members – and empathize with them in a way that helps you truly meet their needs – they should be more to you than a demographic. As Askwith notes: “You can’t actually have a conversation with Suburban Male 18-49 because he just doesn’t exist. [Demographics are] great in describing a business objective but terrible in describing what would make somebody happy.”

To make your members real, Askwith and Thebeau suggest creating personas. These symbolic members represent real people who might populate your credit union. To start, envision two modern consumers, a man and a woman, who might exist in your market. How would they answer the following questions?

  1. What’s my name?
  2. How old am I?
  3. What is my relationship status?
  4. What’s my highest level of education?
  5. Who and what inspire me?
  6. What motivates me?
  7. What are my goals in life?
  8. What is my personal motto?
  9. Where do I live?
  10. Where do I work, and what do I do?
  11. What do I do in my spare time? With whom and where?
  12. What can your credit union do to help me?
  13. Why should I believe you?

Developing a pair of target personas can help you fine-tune your efforts in everything from marketing to product development and member service by helping you envision what your target members want. Is your membership diverse? Create multiple personas.

Your members are not simple or statistical. They’re people with unique life stories, habits, motivations and beliefs. The better you understand them, the better equipped you’ll be to serve them.

Download the complete THINK 15 Planning Canvas and create your roadmap for 2016 strategic planning. Find tools for developing personas and for a variety of future topics covered in our THINK Ahead Planning series on