Bringing personas to life for City, University of London


By Vicky Green

It’s much easier to get someone on your side when you know a little about them. It’s even easier when you know a lot. This was at the heart of a persona project for City, University of London.

Around 51% of Postgraduate students accept an offer and City wanted to improve this. City wanted to develop their content marketing approach to increase this figure. A one-size-fits-all communications plan just wouldn’t do.

Meet Alessandro, Laura and Zainab

We knew that if we had a much fuller picture of the types of people applying and enrolling at City, the more tailored and effective their marketing communications could be.

We looked at a huge number of City PG students to determine the types of people who came here. Everything from their age, gender, likes and dislikes, to their influencers, drivers, social media preferences and even what they were looking for at each stage of the recruitment journey. From here, we were able to build twelve personas, each with their own name and personality. This way, we knew who we were talking to, what they wanted to hear, and where.

It was complex, to say the least. Which is why our education, copywriting and production experts all worked together across the four key stages of our persona development process to untangle, analyse and breathe life into our new personas.

– Stage one was a unique online survey sent to current first year students around their motivations, behaviours and drivers for choosing City.

– Stage two was cluster analysis on this huge amount of data.

– Stage three involved crafting this into usable personas.

– And finally, we created a microsite that showed each finished persona clearly. It included research findings, multimedia content, descriptive copy and even examples of how to use the personas for marketing communications.

We also delivered a workshop and user guide to make sure everyone at City could use them to influence and inform communications in a much more tailored and targeted way. We didn’t think our client could be happier… until we were asked to do it all again for their undergraduate audience. We followed the same process. We enjoyed the same success. And our client was even happier.