A beginner’s guide to persona marketing: how to create personas
Marketing personas: what are they & how do we define them?
Watch guide: 4-minute video
What is persona marketing?
What is a persona? Well, according to the Oxford Dictionary, a persona is “the aspect of someone’s character that is presented to or perceived by others”. In the context of marketing, the process of creating a persona involves analysing the behaviour and attributes of your customers, then segmenting them into target groups.
By identifying the various characteristics, interests, goals and habits of a customer, you give yourself the best chance of marketing your business in a way that suits their needs, and enticing them to purchase your products or services.
Typically, companies create or design marketing personas by looking at the following attributes and activities:
- Demographics (age, gender, ethnicity, education, career etc)
- Shopping habits
- Motivations/barriers to purchase
Personas can be used for a vast range of marketing purposes, because they offer a unique and highly effective way of achieving both short and long-term goals. By knowing more about your ideal customers, you can begin to market yourself in an appealing way that makes it easy for them to convert with you.
Persona definition is the first crucial step in establishing an efficient marketing funnel — find out more about marketing funnels in our comprehensive guide!
Why invest in persona marketing?
Personas are crucial to the success of a service or product because they heavily influence marketing and sales decisions. By focusing on customer needs and utilising what you know about each target group, you can craft an approach that massively increases your chances of converting those prospects into customers or clients. Think about it this way – if you have no clue who your ideal customer is, how can you create marketing strategies that attract people like them?
Persona marketing should be a cornerstone of your strategy to help you make better decisions and invest your time as efficiently as possible.
By creating a fictional representation of your business’s ideal customer, based on real market research and data, you can gain a deep understanding of how to meet your customers’ needs and ensure your marketing activity is appropriate for their demographic, goals and motivations.
Without personas in place and clear target groups assigned to each marketing campaign, you will never be able to offer anything other than generic “one size fits all” messaging that is likely to fall on deaf ears.
You can find out more about the benefits of persona marketing in this fantastic article by Hubspot.
Do persona marketing techniques differ between businesses and sectors?
They do indeed! Persona marketing is used across a wide range of industries, for B2B and B2C marketing initiatives alike. It makes sense that your specific persona structures should depend on your sector, target audience and marketing goals – how your business tracks and stores data will also influence the design of your personas, as it’s this data that will act as a blueprint for the creation of each character profile.
Considering the buyer’s journey
When creating your personas, it’s always crucial to consider the buyer’s journey so that you can truly tap into the mindset and thought processes of a customer. We get into this and a lot of other vital lead generation guidance in our Leads on Tap Blueprint, which is well worth a download!
The buyer’s journey consists of three critical stages — awareness, consideration and decision. Creating personas that accurately represent your prospects will be fruitful when guiding prospects through each stage of the buyer’s journey, and it will also teach you a thing or two about your business processes for future campaigns.
Think of the buyer’s journey as a funnel:
Awareness is the starting point, where a prospect “enters” the marketing funnel. A prospect has a problem that needs solving or is seeking an opportunity, and your product or service is the solution. Your job? Making prospects aware of your brand and the solutions you offer. Persona-targeted content is where the magic happens and allows you to speak directly to your target audience, with a little bit of charm sprinkled in there of course! Most prospects will linger at the top of the funnel, at the awareness stage, and the use of clever content and automations is what drives them through to the next stage.
Consideration is the middle-ground where a prospect weighs up their options and will require some convincing that what you are offering is right for them. This stage is vital and where your persona research truly demonstrates its value. What are their needs? What style of marketing do they react positively to? All of your research up to this point will define the type of approach you take.
Decision time! Your prospect is aware of your brand, what you offer and how your product/service can help to solve their problem. But they will have undoubtedly checked out a few of your competitors too. So what makes you different? Persona marketing gives you insight and a personal touch that your rivals cannot match. By focusing your marketing strategy on addressing the specific needs and personality of your prospect, you instantly attract and maintain their attention while installing a sense of trust that’s hard to come by. You don’t want people to like your brand. You want them to love it. So much so that they tell their friends about it and rant and rave about how you have saved the day!
It all starts with the buyer’s journey.
Want to know more about Personas and what it takes to achieve unlimited growth?
How to create personas for your customers
Creating personas requires data analysis, interviews, surveys as well as internal breakdowns from your sales team. It sounds a little bit complex and daunting, doesn’t it? Don’t worry. It really doesn’t have to be! The purpose of doing this work is to essentially cover all bases and develop a clear idea of who your target audience is, so that you can segment them into user groups.
From here, you can then begin to create content such as e-books and whitepapers that are irresistible to prospects and targets their needs. Think of yourself as a problem solver. If you can offer them a solution and make them fall in love with your brand, it’s safe to say you have a piping hot lead on your hands.
Ready to get started with persona marketing?
The following practical methods will provide you with the vital information needed to develop customer personas you can integrate into your marketing funnel:
Delve into your customer database: Your customer database is a goldmine of information that’s vital to persona creation. Although some company databases are more detailed than others, at the very least, you will be able to narrow down the basics such as a customer’s location, purchasing history and hopefully some highly valuable additional targeting information such as their age, gender, interests and past interactions with your company.
Use website forms to gather additional persona data: A simple and effective way to gather additional customer information that can be used to inform your personas is to adjust your current website forms. If you want to know something specific — such as a person’s profession or industry — simply add the question to your contact form, and use the resulting information to add value to your personas. It’s important to balance information gathering with conversion optimisation – don’t add too much complexity to your forms if it’s likely to hamper sales; a couple of additional questions around a prospect’s intentions or targeting information will suffice.
Speak to your sales team: Your sales team deals with customers and potential customers more than anyone else at your company. They are the people that continue to pile coal into the fire and fuel your business, so it’s safe to say they know a thing or two about who your most common or likely customers are. What patterns have they noticed about people who are more likely to purchase? Is there a “type” of person who purchases your products/services most frequently? Have they got a sense of what the majority of your customers are trying to achieve? Any nuggets of information, no matter how small, can be the game-changer needed to take you to the next level.
Interview customers: You can only find out so much from data alone. Conversations with your customers will give you valuable insights into their goals and objectives, which specific aspects of your brand attracted their attention and what appeals to them about you – helping to hone your marketing messages moving forward. A brand that cares about what their customers think will always be more appealing than one that doesn’t.
Start creating your first personas
Now that you have a better understanding of persona marketing and what’s required to create personas for your business, you’re ready to get started with creating your first persona designs! It’s crucial to collaborate with your sales and marketing teams as you go about designing the templates, and for everyone to understand what you are trying to achieve, as they will be instrumental in helping you to achieve your persona marketing goals.
Quick tips for creating your own personas:
- Don’t segment for the sake of it. You can use the same personas for different markets or geographies if the target groups have enough similarities. This saves time and effort while bolstering your marketing efforts.
- Keep the number of personas you’re using manageable – we usually recommend 2-4 per marketing campaign.
- Don’t segment by industry just because that feels like a “neat” way to do it. For example, while creating personas for a recent client, we discovered that HR directors had the same concerns in a wide range of sectors — meaning there was no need to segment further.
- Continually review your personas as your business grows, to ensure they’re still relevant.
Remember, if you have any questions about the information in this post or persona marketing in general,our team here at The Brains are always happy to help. All you need to do to get started is request a FREE initial consultation!