The Ultimate Playbook for Marketing Personas

For brands, it’s easy to get carried away trying to target as many people as possible.

After all, the bigger your audience, the more people there likely are to purchase. Right?

Not necessarily.

By targeting as many people as possible, your marketing won’t be targeting anyone at all. It will become too generic, not appealing to anyone’s goals or challenges, wants or needs.

Instead, it is better to spend your time, resource, and budget on targeting those that are most likely to engage with you and buy.

And a great place to start is with personas.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about personas. From benefits and how to create a persona, to why you need to keep them up to date.

For targeting, better starts here.

What are personas?

Personas offer a simplified representation of a group of customers or users and their goals and challenges. Their main purpose is to help brands to understand and target specific customer segments better. But they also offer lots of other benefits, which we will cover shortly.

Personas are usually presented in documents that incorporate both visuals and copy to bring the persona to life.

This document should include demographics, goals, and challenges at a minimum. But can be expanded upon to include behavioural patterns, attitudes, political leanings, home life, hobbies and interests, and even brands they engage with.

Many marketers will also choose to add a photo or avatar to the persona, to make it more relatable as a real customer or user.

And personas should not just be created for one group. They should be created for each group of key customers or users, so that each segment can be understood and targeted effectively.

Image Source – Dribble

Benefits of personas

Ok, so you understand what personas are. But why put the time and effort into creating them?

Understand your audience

Buyer personas enable businesses to develop a deep understanding of their audience base. Both in terms of prospects and customers.

This insight is invaluable for so many aspects of business. From marketing to sales. Strategy to tactics. And can be shared with the wider business to be utilised throughout every department.

Positioning and branding

Personas are key when establishing positioning and branding for a business. Everything from the tagline through to the images and graphics should be decided upon with personas in mind.

Otherwise, you risk wasting important real estate on your website and communications.

Targeted marketing

Similar to positioning and branding, marketing can be fine-tuned to target exactly what your personas need from your business. From challenges and pain points, to preferred products and services.

Even the language and channels you use in your marketing communications should be personalised to reflect who your personas are, and where they engage.

Sales support

And of course, understanding prospective customers’ pain points is essential for sales teams to get to the root of their problem.

Personas offer sales teams insight into their audience before they even pick up the phone, send that email, or attend that meeting.

This supports the sales team from preparation stage through to closing the deal.

Less time-wasting

With the help of buyer personas, all of the above activity can be executed in a highly efficient way. Less time will be wasted predicting and testing copy, images, ads, and campaigns.

Instead, each department can get their strategy and execution right the first time. Saving significant time and money.

Identify negative personas

A negative persona is an audience that you do not want to target.

By defining what this audience looks like, you can ensure that your sales and marketing teams avoid them as prospective customers. And do not spend time, effort, and money on targeting them.

These negative personas may also be the customers that you don’t want to put too much effort into keeping, especially if they are demanding, but do not fit your ideal customer persona.

How to build a persona

Hopefully we have convinced you as to why personas are so beneficial to your business. Now let’s get started creating them.

Start researching

The very first thing you should begin to do when building a persona is collecting key information about your target audience.

And there are so many ways to do exactly that:

Use your customer database or CRM

Your database or CRM will hold key information regarding your audience. Which customers are bringing in the most revenue? What do they look like? What industry are they in?

Speak to your customer-facing teams

Sales, account management, support, finance. These are all of the teams that deal with your customers and prospects on a daily basis. Get as much information from them as possible, both quantitative and qualitative, about your target audience.

Use analytics and reports

Whether that be Google analytics, your email service provider, or stats from your social media pages. Any kind of analytics and reports will give you insight into your audience, their demographics, and how they behave. For instance, what country do most of your website visitors come from? What gender and age of recipients are most likely to open your emails?

Interview current customers

Interviews and surveys of current customers and your audience can really delve into information that would be otherwise inaccessible. Don’t be afraid to ask the difficult questions, such as what the customer doesn’t like about your offering. Or what competitors they would consider buying from. This is a great opportunity to find out what they really think.

Set demographics

Now you have collected all of this information, it’s time to start putting your persona together.

The most sensible place to begin is with demographics. This should include basic elements such as name, age, job title, and location. You can stretch this to also include marital status, family, hobbies, and a photo or avatar of your persona.

Another great demographic element to include is a type of personality. Whether that be by using a well-known system such as Myers Briggs. Or using your own terminology, for example “Perfectionist”, “Introvert” or “Leader”.

If you want a more in-depth persona, you can also delve into the background of your audience. For instance, how they were educated, what they studied, and what their career looks like. This section could reference family background too. But only if it feels necessary.

Image Source – Dribble

Goals and pain points

Defining goals and pain points is important as it allows you to understand what is motivating and what is frustrating your audience. So that you can better meet their needs.

Also consider including solutions to these goals and needs. So that you can pinpoint exactly how your business can support your audience.

All of this messaging is key for your brand positioning. Ensure to pepper these goals and pain points throughout your website, emails, social media posts, and collateral. Every piece of activity you do should come back to these goals and pain points. Else you risk not speaking the same language as your audience.

Image Source – Venngage

Add some extras

At this stage, you have created the core of your persona. Congratulations!

But there is always room for improvement. To make your persona as relatable for everyone in the business, include as much relevant information as possible.

You could add some personality to your persona by including favourite music, movies, food, and holiday destinations.

Or expand on the brands that they engage with to help you compare your own business. This could include their favourite clothing brand, make of car, or online influencer.

Try to get creative and have some fun with this stage of the persona creation. It is a great team exercise. And really helps embed the persona in everyone’s minds.

Image Source – Dribble

Rethinking your personas

So you’ve created your personas, and you’ve charged ahead with targeted sales and marketing activity off the back of them.

But now isn’t the time to get complacent.

Personas aren’t set in stone. Audiences change. Businesses change. And so do personas.

That’s why it’s important to rethink your personas on a regular basis.

Here are 5 more reasons why:

You’ve learned more about your customers

As your business grows and you have more interactions with your customers. You learn more about them.

Early customer personas may have limited data available, which means that they may be based on assumptions and opinions.

However, over time you may find some gaps or inaccuracies in your personas as you learn more about your audience.

This could include the type of content that they consume, the messaging that engages them, or the imagery that catches their eye.

Or, it may be that as you have more discussions with your audience, you realise some of your assumptions on goals and pain points need tweaking.

Change in priorities

The world has changed significantly over the past year. And so have consumers.

Buying habits have shifted drastically, with many consumers craving experiences over ‘things’.

It is essential that you reflect this shift in behaviour in your personas. Essentially, it could mean a significant change in your messaging, positioning, your product promotions, and your general marketing strategy and campaigns.

At the very least, brands should be making a nod to the experiences that their audiences have been through recently. And keep a check of their tone of voice.

Change in budgets

Similarly, as the world has changed, so have budgets.

For obvious reasons, many audiences are more money-conscious. With consumer spending in February 2021 being down more than 16% year on year.

Now is the time to identify what your big spenders look like. And who in your audience is more budget-conscious.

This will help you to tailor your promotions and communications, so that they are more suitable, sensitive, and generate the highest ROI where possible.

Change in business objectives

If your business objectives change, so may your target audience. This in turn could open up new opportunities. But similarly, may open up the need to change your business positioning and messaging.

Or, it may be the case that your personas only need a few tweaks to mirror your business objectives.

Either way, make sure that every time your objectives are reviewed. So are your personas.

Too many personas

With all of these changes, it can be easy for personas to start stacking up.

There is no set number of personas that businesses should use. However, the more personas you create, the more complicated things start to become.

By creating more personas, the lines between each of them become blurred. Making it difficult to identify which persona to target with which campaign or messaging.

We would recommend starting with three personas, and building out over time. Either as you gain more understanding of your audience, as your team becomes more adept at using personas, or your business grows, and you have more resource.

What next?

Congratulations, you have set up your personas and you’re ready to keep on top of them. The next step is putting your new audience understanding into action.

And our all-in-one AI marketing platform and a Customer Success Team can help you do just that.

Get in touch with our experts to find out more.

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