User Personas for Associations: Benefits & Best Practices — Lidia Varesco Design

Lidia Varesco Design
5 min readMay 23

Originally published in Association Forum’s FORUM Magazine, April, 2023

Associations often struggle to tell their story in a way that people can easily understand what they do and why it matters. Many nonprofits face the same challenge, but there’s a solution: user personas.

User personas are a representation of your association’s top-priority audiences, based on research, data, and conversations. They give you a clear picture of your audiences’ demographics, behaviors, goals, and pain points, as well as how these audiences engage with the association. This knowledge can help you communicate with each segment effectively, create relevant and meaningful content, attract new audiences, and improve member retention rate.

Why Is It Important for Associations to Have User Personas?

For starters, personas allow you to connect with your audiences on a personal level and understand their needs and pain points, Kristian Alomá, Founder and CEO of Threadline, an organization that uses narrative psychology to develop association personas, points out: “It’s often an empathy exercise: Who are these folks and why do we care about them?”

Personas also help you see your association from different perspectives. Hilary Marsh, Chief Strategist at Content Company Inc., suggests associations go beyond the obvious audiences and “shift their perspective from inside-out to outside-in.”

Brian Haney, Founder and CEO of The Haney Company, a financial services provider for associations, also sees user personas as a way to stand out in the digital economy: “The best marketing is about customization and hyper personalization.”-and user personas help you do just that.

He also points out that personas can create a better connection to your ideal member-the people you really want to reach-”by creating a meaningful two-way communication that you can build on, recognize and honor.”

How Data Plays into Developing User Personas

Data plays a crucial role in developing user personas. By gathering data from member profiles, surveys, website and social media…

Lidia Varesco Design

Empowering organizations and entrepreneurs to make a change through branding and creative marketing | Work-life champion | Founder of @bizmamas #BizMama