What Are Marketing Personas?
Marketing personas are a way of describing real customers who buy, or might buy, the products or services you sell. What’s more, marketing personas are built on information about real buyers who make decisions based on their behaviours and traits.
Why does this matter? First of all, the old style marketing treats people based on age, income, location, but we are all a bit more three dimensional than that.
In the first place, people don’t just buy on the facts you present them; it isn’t as logical as that. Furthermore, you need to dig deeper and understand what makes people tick. Marketing is about behaviours, feelings and beliefs.
What does your target audience like or dislike?
How do they spend their time? Marketing personas are an easy way of understanding your customers and prospects and can be used to guide marketing and content decisions.
Why Use Marketing Personas?
Marketing Personas help you understand what influences buying decisions. If you use this information, you can tailor your communications to speak directly to your target customer.
Entirely you will demonstrate that you understand them and will increase engagement and conversion rates. Take a look at this case study highlighted by David Meerman.
Some of the benefits of using marketing personas are detailed here:
- The better you are at creating marketing personas that reflect the real people who buy, the better you will compete for their business.
- Marketing personas simplify decisions on content, campaigns and overall marketing communications.
- Marketing personas help shape marketing messages based on what each marketing persona’s values
- Teams have a common framework and point of reference to develop marketing campaigns
- Reduces guesswork, speeds up and guides decision making
- Mapping marketing personas to a customer journey map improve conversions see our template below
Marketing personas stop the assumptions. I often find businesses that have no customer segmentation and no clear customer profile.
One of the most common problems enterprises face is that their customers are changing due to use of technology, time pressures, the tight economy, social media…lots of reasons; BUT they still have the old customer in their mind.
Marketing Personas – Your Get Started Checklist
Developing personas for each of your market segments requires some effort and research, but it does pay off.
Once you have established a clear Marketing Strategy segmenting your customers becomes easier.
Remember to focus on niche marketing rather than compete at a broader marketing level. Creating a working set of marketing personas needs to be built into your ongoing marketing practice.
This way you refine and make on your understanding of your customers, and this will strengthen your future marketing activities.
#1. Define Your Segments
Developing your marketing personas should be aligned with how you segment your customers base, e.g. you might sell in different market sectors and so need to build marketing personas based on these sectors.
The critical point is to focus on a problem or opportunity, e.g. if you have a segment that you are losing market share in the start there.
#2. Market Research
Start with what and who you know and build outwards. Whether it is BtoB or BtoC your existing customers hold the key to help you develop your understanding. Build out your profiles based on the information you already know.
Use existing real customers to develop your marketing personas then. Involve your teams and use your internal resources and knowledge – people that know your customers: salespeople, teachers, trainers, customer service team, installers, tech support, etc.
Identify what you know and what information is missing’ Once you have established this you can build your questionnaire and start on face to face interviews.
#3. Analyze Website & Product Data
Social media: where do your customers go online; What social networks do they use, e.g. Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest…
Review your website data, what content has seen the highest traffic, who has shared your content…
Some useful tools:
- Quantcast: What are the demographics of people visiting similar sites?
- Keyword data: Adwords (free), Keyword Discovery, WordTracker. The phrases people use are a great peek in their heads.
Key Action: Start off using existing information. Interview customers & get started to build some simple marketing personas that you can work with, refine and improve as you get more data.
#4. Create Your Personas
Marketing personas rely on patterns in the data gathered from the interviews and other sources.
Begin to look for common traits and themes in how people respond, how they buy, the information they look for, what concerns they have, what problems they have, when purchasing, what they value and don’t like.
Use these patterns to group into no more than five marketing personas – too many and it is hard to focus, too few and you are likely to profile people clearly.
Key Action: Keep It, Simple, To Start With – If you make it too complicated people in your business will get lost and not buy-in to using them. Get traction and focus on what will make a difference.
#5. Use Personas To Drive Content Quality
Use your marketing persona to drive your content. Create great content that speaks to their values, helps them solve problems and matches their style and tone of voice. If you look at our marketing personas template, you will see how you can do this.
#6. Map The Customer Journey
By using powerful targeted marketing communication that speaks directly to your target audiences needs, values, interests and needs you can increase your engagement.
People like to know that you understand them. Good marketing communication should speak to your target customer in a way that they know.
By aligning how your customers buy (the Customer Journey Map) with the Marketing Persona you put two powerful marketing methods together. These two marketing methods help you use the right content at each point of the customer buying process.
#7. Light The Digital Camp Fire
Have you noticed how the big brands use real stories to engage people? We are hard-wired to use stories to help understand the world. Social media creates the digital campfire around which we can tell stories. Use marketing personas to build out stories that others will connect with your targeted audience.
Create your marketing personas and use them to map against your customer journey.