15 Dec 2015

The Role of A Marketing Persona in Your Success

Every successful marketing campaign starts with knowing your audience. You cannot craft a marketing project that reaches out to your chosen demographic and draws them in to your product or service without understanding who they are and why they buy. By creating a marketing persona you visualize the customer in a credible way and begin to understand not just who they are and why they buy, but also their pain points and, more importantly, how to relieve them. When you have a persona to relate to, every piece of information you produce along the journey is relevant to them and applicable to their situation.

It may be easy to underestimate the power of marketing personas, but consider this fact; many companies have limited marketing funds that have to be allocated to many marketing activities. Sadly budgets may have more persuasive power than the marketing campaigns do, but there is a way to help balance budgets and success, without compromising either.

Marketing or buying Personas greatly improve the return on investment (ROI) and refine the strategy of your marketing activities, making it a cost effective exercise as well as an empathetic one. By creating a persona then designing your campaign around the attributes of that persona, you are able to anticipate how your target customers think and react and be ready with strategies to combat them.

Creating a buying persona helps in making objective planning. Effective content is designed for a specific target audience so the need to understand how that segment is likely to respond is imperative. A buying persona provides the context of your content and shapes how the information is gathered and presented, providing all the information you need to make objective decisions in your marketing message.

As you cast your net as wide as possible to catch as many of you demographic as possible it is inevitable that message dilution will result. As the message loses its clarity it will reach fewer people. A persona helps to focus the campaign to develop a strong brand that tailors the message to the market, creating an idea that resonates with the audience and is not diluted as it reaches straight in to your demographic at every touch point of the buying cycle.

How do you create a marketing persona?

Questions to ask yourself, then think, about your Persona:

  • What is the person’s first and last name, age, gender, face (find a photo online) and personal information?
  • What are a few details about the person’s life—an interest or a habit—that makes each person unique and memorable? When you start here, the hypothetical constructs spring to life.
  • How does this person spend their day?—Sketch out a brief outline of their daily work day or day at home, including specific habits, likes and dislikes.
  • What is this person’s work environment (if you’re trying to reach professionals, rather than individuals) including length of time in the job, professional development habits (if marketing programs such as training for social workers on public benefits), information- seeking habits and favorite resources, personal and professional goals, colleagues with whom the persona works most closely, etc.
  • Who does this person trust?
  • Where (or from whom) else is this person getting information about your issue or similar programs or services?
  • What are the person’s personal and professional goals in relation to your organization’s programs?
  • Who else is encouraging them to “do the right thing” (e.g. follow through on your calls to action for this person/group)?
  • Where are they in the Stages of Change about doing the right thing (from “I don’t see it as a problem” to “I can/want to do this now.”)?

 

Organizing your persona

Write down and answer these questions to create a persona profile that is a ‘live’ person.

Name of the persona

Job title

  • Key information about their company (size, type, etc.)
  • Details about their role

Demographics

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Salary / household income
  • Location: urban / suburban / rural
  • Education
  • Family

Goals and challenges

  • Primary goal
  • Secondary goal
  • How you help achieve these goals
  • Primary challenge
  • Secondary challenge
  • How you help solve these problems

Values / fears

  • Primary values
  • Common objections during sales process

Marketing message

Elevator pitch

Every persona needs an elevator pitch. Essentially, an explanation of who they are and what they think in a 90 second package. The more thorough you are, the easier it will be to understand your market. Specifics are great in the construction of a customer you want to sell to.

Beyond the basics, you will find that your specific business might need specific information. Personas can vary from business to business and industry to industry. An Internet news company would require different customer information than a medical supply company, and a persona built for a buying funnel might look different than one built for a blog. Do not be afraid to create a persona for each project you are working on or be too detailed. This is the person you are going to sell to, the more you know, the more you can reach them.

With that in mind, here are some miscellaneous bits of information that you might consider adding to your personas. They help create a more rounded persona and stimulate ideas on what may reach them.

  • Hobbies
  • Real quotes from interviews with customers
  • Computer literacy
  • Where they get their news
  • Blogs they read

Save it, print it, then keep it in key places where those involved in the campaign can see it and remind themselves of the focus of the campaign. Just remember – this persona is for this campaign only, it will not translate to another project. You need to make a new marketing persona every time. Period.

After a persona is created it has to be applied to the buying cycle or sales funnel at each step of the journey. By knowing your demographic through the eyes of your persona you are able to detail each step in the journey and be prepared to overcome objections and relieve pain points before they happen. As you already have insight into their reactions you can be prepared with the activities that foster interaction and propel them through the journey skillfully and with confidence.

Personas are not only valuable in the sales/marketing cycle. They provide a blue print for all the resources needed to make a purchase decision and what the critical buying path will be. This puts the whole company on the same page which allows easy communications and expectations from all departments and a coordinated sales process that is efficient and relevant to your buyer.

One common reason that marketing campaigns fail is that they have not looked at the project from an outside perspective. You may think you have had a great idea, but your marketing persona may say something very different. Personas help you ask the right questions of your demographic, but also of yourself. It can be the short cut to success if used properly. Unless you have constructed a credible buying persona to focus your campaign right from the start you can very easily create something that is not relevant to your audience. That’s a very expensive mistake to make.

Knowing how to create an effective persona is just as important. Many personas fail because they are too superficial or are just a list of attributes and not a real person.

Personas are at their most useful when they bridge the gap between the customers anticipated experience on one side and your expectations of the customer on the other. If you fail to build that bridge, or neglect to use it, then you are in danger of alienating your audience before they have really got in far enough to the buying cycle to be fruitful, causing a steady bleed of leads out of the sales funnel.

Taking the time to create a persona for your product or service is critical to providing the valuable tools that result in successful sales. They provide a path for your projects and help you retain people in buying process by understanding them more fully. Whichever way you look at it, personas are a great ROI. They help you think better, plan better and help make and save you money. All the perfect attributes of an effective marketing campaign.