Repeat after me: “I am not my target market.”
Congratulations, you have taken one of the first and most important steps you can take in marketing. You have admitted that you are not your ideal customer. Sounds like a simple concept, but when making marketing and business decisions so often we gravitate towards what we personally like. And why not?
Our entire lives are driven by personal choices. What we wear, what career we choose, what car we drive – all these decisions are driven by personal preference. So naturally, why wouldn’t your customers love what you love? Unless you are the embodiment of the human condition (and if you are, we would love to meet you) chances are that there are strategic differences between your preferences and those of your customers.
Marketing strives to define those preferences through Marketing Personas.
To Be or not to be…. that is the persona?
As emotional human beings we demand our individuality – so why doesn’t marketing accurately reflect this? Marketing personas attempt to put a face and emotions to the facts of a target market group.
Marketing personas are method actors allowing us to step over and experience life in our buyer’s shoes at a much more intimate level. But before we get too emotional let’s review the foundation of Marketing Personas – Target Markets.
The Origin of the Persona:
You may or may not be more familiar with “target markets”, the predecessor of the marketing persona. Target markets have long held rein over marketing land and are best defined as groups of individuals that are separated by distinguishable and noticeable aspects. Target markets can be separated by the following aspects:
- geographic segmentations, addresses (their location climate region)
- demographic/socioeconomic segmentation (gender, age, income, occupation, education, household size, and stage in the family life cycle)
- psychographic segmentation (similar attitudes, values, and lifestyles)
- behavioral segmentation (occasions, degree of loyalty)
- product-related segmentation (relationship to a product)
In the good ol days marketers would make educated guesses about who their target market was based on available information, test that hypothesis and hope they got it right. Before the days of tell-all Google analytics, Facebook user data and hashtags, marketers poured over surveys, census data and Nielsen Ratings. The process stills holds value today but is faster and more accurate thanks to the technology available to the marketing and business industries.
Enter the Persona
Personas pick up where the target market ends. Diving deeply into psychographic and behavioral segmentation, Personas describe a target market group in the terms of an individual – who might define that group of consumers for the brand. When developing a persona, a simple questionnaire can get you started in the right direction:
What Personas can do for your Marketing?
Whether you are a small business or a Fortune 500 – every business can benefit from understanding its buyer personas. By being able to understand your buyers’ pain points, you can uncover ways your company can solve problems, enhance experiences and create brand loyalty.
By understanding your buyers’ habits – where they get information, how they spend their free time and what matters most – the marketer can spend time creating a marketing strategy that places messaging where their buyers will discover it.
Buyer personas help marketers create messaging strategies and purchasing funnels to help qualify leads for sales – spending time nurturing sales that lead to closings, not wasting time on leads that will not perform at this time. If any action in your integrated marketing strategy doesn’t lead back to a well-defined persona, something is amiss!!
Creating a Buyer Persona
Buyer personas are created through research, surveys, and interviews of your target audience. That includes a mix of customers – both “good” and “bad” — prospects, and those outside of your contact database who might align with your target audience.
Remember personas are both an art and a science based on fact and intuition. When creating personas its a good idea to look at the following sources:
- Customer Surveys
- Customer Lead or Source Reports (i.e. How did you hear of us)
- Your Email Statistics
- Tapestry Reports based on location
- Focus groups or customer interviews
Using the information you gathered, now all you need to do is fill in the blanks for each persona with the following:
- Basic details about persona’s role
- Key information about the persona’s company
- Relevant background info, like education or hobbies
- Age Range
- HH Income (Consider a spouse’s income, if relevant)
- Urbanicity (Is your persona urban, suburban, or rural?)
- Buzz words
- Persona’s primary goal
- Persona’s secondary goal
- Primary challenge to persona’s success
- Secondary challenge to persona’s success
How we can help
- How you solve your persona’s challenges
- How you help your persona achieve goals
Include a few real quotes – taken during your interviews – that represent your persona well. This will make it easier for others in your company to relate to and understand your persona.
Identify the most common objections your persona will raise during the sales process
How should you describe your solution to your persona?
Presenting A Persona
Once you have addressed each of the areas outlined in a marketing persona, you can create a one-page summary for that persona, give it a descriptive name and include a photo of what that person may look like.
Names can be fun like Small Business Sally, Dan the Daydreamer or Randy Real Estate Agent.
Each one should be descriptive enough that no one should have to guess as to what the persona is about. After completing your personas be sure to reference them often ensuring that your messaging is targeting one or more personas in a way that positions you to solve their pain points.