People smilingTourism marketing organizations and businesses are keen to see positive ROI for their content marketing efforts. But, many variables are involved in achieving such a result.

One of them is using high-quality personas that can drive your brand and content directly to visitors.

The problem is, especially for smaller tourism organizations or businesses, sometimes creating personas cost too much or take too much time. Sometimes the idea hasn’t fully won over key decision makers, so any persona project might likely be underfunded or under-resourced.

So, what can you do? One solution is to create proto-personas.

What is a Proto-Persona?
The classic persona is created from primary research data in the context of a longer process. The end result is a simple, clean gathering of key descriptors that paint a portrait of a given customer type.

On the other hand, the proto-persona is a type of the classic persona that is different because it is based on organizational brainstorming sessions rather than primary research.

At these brainstorming sessions, organizational executives, staff and SMEs collaborate to summarize their beliefs, experiences, interactions, observations, intuitions and feelings about different visitor types, which are then shaped into a persona format.

When are Proto-Personas Useful?
Using proto-personas can be a solid solution when you . . .

Need to Persuade More
If you or other key stakeholders or decision makers aren’t fully persuaded to make the investment of time and money for a persona research project, a proto-person approach can help you persuade minds and hearts. There’s less risk involved.

Need to Save Money
Because you’re relying on second-hand data, organizational participants and SMEs, there’s usually no or little additional cost involved to develop workshop sessions.

Need to Save Time
Since you’re doing an internal workshop with executives, senior staff, team members and SME’s, getting participants together is typically easy and relatively efficient.

Need a Starting Point
Sometimes, we just need a starting point. Proto-personas will help start you on the road to sophisticating your tourism organization’s content marketing. These personas will change with time and additional insights!

Need Customer Awareness
When you need to inject or maintain visitor perspectives in marketing communications or creative strategy meetings, proto-personas will help you intelligently advocate.

Proto-Personas May Be An Option
When it comes to professional content marketing that achieves better than usual performance levels and ROI, visitor personas are vital in shaping and creating your content.

Classic personas may be currently out of reach for your tourism organization.

Using proto-personas instead may be just the solution for now.

Chris Ribaudo is a copywriter, brand developer and researcher based in Chicago working on creative messaging, storytelling, content marketing and user design in the digital tourism, technology, healthcare, manufacturing and nonprofit spaces. Get his Influence, follow him on Twitter, Google+, Linkedin or visit his website at