The Importance of Personas to Real Estate Developers and Site Selection

real-estate-developers-personasWhat's a Persona?

A persona is a marketing tool that can help real estate developers understand the key players in any deal – and most importantly, can help identify the gatekeepers and key influencers, and identify their motivations and interests.

In traditional marketing, a persona is a fictional person that is invented to represent a group of customers who all share common traits. This persona is given a name, a profession, and stock photo (to give you something to visualize the person when creating content directed toward them), and a list of demographic and personality descriptors.

Instead, for our purposes, we will be talking about personas that represent key groups or individuals that will be involved in a real estate deal. These are the influencers – the people on the other end of your communications with whom you need to develop trusted and successful relationships - and knowing whom you’re speaking to ensures you’re saying the right things to the right people.

Who are the Key Players and Groups for Real Estate Developers?

The first step in developing real estate personas to help move a deal along is to identify who the key players and groups will be. Most often, these include the following:

  • Local (and State) Government Officials
  • Planning Board
  • Zoning Board
  • Local Economic Development Organization
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Infrastructure (Transportation/Utility Departments or Companies)
  • Fire Marshall
  • Neighbors / Abutters / Local Community

There may be other key players as well, but this list can serve as a starting point.

How to Create Personas

For each key influencer or group that is relevant to your upcoming project or deal, you will create a unique persona. These personas will look like profiles of individual people and will start with the basics:

  1. Name: How would you describe this person in one, all-encompassing word? Many use an adjective that describes their lead, like “Gatekeeper George” or “Conservative Cathy”.
  2. Face: Sometimes envisioning what a persona looks like helps to humanize the experience. Do a quick Google image search or search for stock photography, and pick a photo that reminds you of the persona you’re defining. (This exercise may seem silly, but having these personas defined and at-hand to share with your other team members truly helps streamline communications and ensures that your entire team presents itself to each influencer in a similar way.
  3. Role in the Project: What is this persona’s role in your project or deal? Are they a gatekeeper? A partner? An influencer? What are their responsibilities, and are they beholden to a specific organization or company?
  4. Demographics (if relevant): These come into play more for large groups, such as neighbors. Your demographics may include information such as: Where are they from, how much do they generally spend, how large are their families, and how much home-owning experience do they have?
  5. Story: This is where you can include all of the important personality and interest-related information you can dig up. What are this persona’s motivations? What are their political interests? What does their day-to-day schedule look like? What are their lifestyle preferences – what do they do on the weekends? What do they read? What does success mean to them?

The key to uncovering this kind of “story” is to do your research (find articles in which they are interviewed in their own words, find out if they are members of local organizations, include where they went to school), and to ask around. Try to understand the people you will be working with, and what makes them tick. Then document everything you uncover in your persona.

The end result should be a short list (three to five) of the most important personas for a real estate developer’s project or deal. By focusing your efforts on these key people and groups, you can make sure that you keep in mind each persona’s unique motivations and interests as you develop relationships and present your proposals. 

The Personas of Currituck County, N.C.

For real estate developers and agents doing work in Currituck County, N.C., we’ve gathered together a few of the key personas that will help you understand the local market in this rapidly growing center of development.

“Deal-Making Dan,” (The Currituck County Economic Development organization): “Dan” is the “Deal-Making Dan” who helps get real estate deals made. He helps real estate developers and agents understand the local political and approvals climate, provides guidance on regulatory challenges or site plan requirements, and builds relationships to help gain support for projects.

“Conservative Charlie,” (Currituck’s Board of Commissioners): “Charlie” is a gatekeeper that can help get projects moving – if you have his support. Politically conservative, Charlie has a background in commercial real estate and is favorable towards development and business. He wants to see Currituck County continue to grow - in the right way.

“Supportive Sally,” (Chamber of Commerce): Sally is a partner in real estate deals here, but not a gatekeeper. She offers some support tools, but is beholden to the interests of her members and may occasionally contribute controversy.

“Not-In-My-Backyard Ned,” (Community and Neighborhood Groups): Ned has a defined image in his mind of the reasons that he moved to Currituck County – for its idyllic natural environment. He expects that nothing should change. He is upper middle class to middle class, and is very involved and vocal any time that a local real estate project is proposed.

To learn more about the other personas that real estate developers should expect to encounter while doing business in Currituck County, or for more information about why Currituck is experiencing such exciting growth, contact us today.


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