Many advertising insiders agree that good marketing is all about figuring out not just what to say to your audience, but also when and how to say it. You must understand your audience in order to craft the perfect message and communicate it effectively.

So how do marketers accomplish this? One key method is through marketing personas. Also called buyer personas, marketing personas create clear portraits of potential customers, literally putting a name to the often-vague concept of your “target audience.” Here, we’ll define marketing personas, explain why they are important and provide tips for developing personas for your own company.

What are personas, and why do you need them?

A marketing persona is a semi-fictional “sketch” of a key segment of your target market. This sketch helps you create a marketing strategy that is more relevant and valuable to the customers who are most important to your business. As already mentioned, the challenge of good marketing is all about figuring out what to say, and how and when to say it. By bringing faceless consumers to life with valid identifiers, not mere assumptions, marketing personas address that very challenge.

A marketing persona should include certain details about the fictional customer, including:

  • Demographics such as age, gender, salary and education
  • Career details
  • Personal goals and values

One final piece of the puzzle that many marketers may want to consider is the customer’s stage in the buyer’s journey. The buyer’s journey can be defined as the process through which all customers go when moving from discovery of your product/service to conversion. This process includes three stages:

  • Awareness (the customer becomes aware of a particular need)
  • Consideration (the customer researches solutions such as products and services)
  • Decision (the customer converts – purchases your product or service)

Let’s assume your company sells high-end running shoes. A persona for one ideal customer might describe Jennifer, a 30-year-old single Philadelphia resident. Jennifer works as an Executive Assistant in the entertainment industry making $70,000 per year. She has recently started an exercise routine and is interested in purchasing her first pair of running shoes. She likes her job, which requires her to present herself well and keep up with trends, so she values both quality and style in her purchase. Your message to Jennifer should communicate these values in a way that targets beginners who are still in the consideration phase of their shopping. Save the discussions of complex running shoe comparisons and updated features, on the other hand, for Tom, a loyal customer, seasoned competitor, and retiree looking to upgrade his go-to shoes as he prepares for his next half-marathon.

Why Are Marketing Personas Important?

Marketing is about meeting audiences’ needs profitably. As the examples above demonstrate, marketing personas help you meet customer needs by more fully defining who those customers are or could be. When you can put a name, age, and range of interests and experience to a customer, you get a clearer picture of their values and shed more light on what that person needs from your product, service or marketing strategy.

So why is it so important that personas help you define and understand your audience? Basically, if you don’t understand who your audience is, you can’t understand their needs. If you don’t understand their needs, you can’t meet them – let alone profitably. By defining your ideal customers’ needs, marketing personas help marketers use time and energy more efficiently and, ultimately, create better products and services.

Marketing personas are important in all of the following tasks:

  • Refining ad campaigns
  • Content creation (including email campaigns and blog posts)
  • Social media marketing (such as on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn)
  • General marketing problem-solving
  • Efficient and well-aligned product development

Here are a Couple Tips for Harnessing the Power of Personas in Your Marketing Strategy

  1. Include as much detail as possible. The more details you include, the clearer the picture of your ideal customer will be. A clearer sketch helps you both define and solve more problems and satisfy needs for this customer and refine your message to communicate how you can do so. Consider the customer’s stage in the buyer’s journey. As mentioned above, you should tailor your message to the buyer’s stage in engaging with your product or service. Someone who is still researching solutions needs a different message than someone who has already converted, or even someone who is just well-versed in industry terms and concepts.
  2. Use templates. While each buyer persona is a unique sketch, you should standardize your process for developing personas by using or creating persona templates. This helps ensure you always include the same level of detail across campaigns, products, and departments, ensuring a more profitable use of time and resources.
  3. Keep them updated. Once you have built your core personas, you’ll likely be referring to them often – for years to come. The problem with this, however, is that you may rely on the information long after it has lost its relevance. For this reason, you should revisit your personas on a regular basis and update them as needed to make sure they remain in alignment with your current business goals and general marketing strategy, as well as reflect any opportunities that have emerged.

Conclusion

Marketing works best when you understand and fill specific needs for the members of your audience. Thoroughly crafted buyer personas can help you identify their interests and motivations, communicate with them on their own terms, and keep them as a priority throughout every step of your product marketing process.

About the Author

Chris Galliera

Chris is one of our Graphic Designers. When he's not creating something visual, he's either playing guitar, riding his mountain bike or researching stocks for his next big (or small) investment.

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