How to Create Marketing Personas
In marketing, the audience you target is just as important as the product or service itself. You need to send the right message to the right person to get sales. Creating marketing personas that represent the people in your target audience is one of the best ways to align your messaging, content and channels. You may be wondering, “what exactly is a persona?” Simply put, it’s a representation of a significant part of your target audience that gives insight on how to approach marketing to that specific group. Personas include demographics, topics of interest, challenges, goals, and much more. Its purpose is to help you understand each segment’s unique needs. I can’t tell you how many times businesses give me a broad range of customers as their target audience. For example, they’ll say something like: Women, ages 18-65 who live 30 miles from me. I can assure you that 20-year-old women do not respond to the same messages as 60-year-old women. There are two types of marketing personas that I use: Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C). While most of the information categories are the same, there are significant differences that we’ll cover next.
Elements of a Marketing Persona
Every persona has multiple elements that help you to envision your ideal customer. Here are the ones I use most often to create experiences that they would engage with: Persona Name & Image When you assign your persona a name, you will see them as a real person. This is important because these personas represent real life people. Admittedly, I can be a little cheesy when creating mine. I’ve had names such as, Marketing Manager Megan, Business Owner Bailey and Personal Trainer Pete. In addition to having a name, personas should also have a photo. You can use websites like Pexels to find free images to go with each profile. Whenever you are creating a campaign that targets a specific audience, you’ll be able to visualize the person you are marketing to. Demographic Profile Next we want to understand more about where the personal is geographically and where they are in their stage of life. Here are some characteristics that may benefit your targeting:
- Location (Country, State, or City)
- Marital Status
- Family Size
This list of demographics may expanded based on your business’ product or services. For example if your business performs maintenance on cars, you may want to know if they own a car. Additionally, you may want to know if they live in a bigger city with public transportation, where a car is not necessary.
Challenges Good marketing campaigns show how your product or service helps solve problems. So, we want to be sure to include the challenges a persona has in their everyday life. For example, if you are a personal trainer, one persona may struggle with winning bodybuilding competitions, while another may have trouble with weight loss. Your service is similar for both, but the message to each group is completely different.
Goals Every persona has things they want to achieve or overcome. There will be times where the challenge can feed into your goal. For example, if you have a travel agency, one persona may have goals of travelling but being able to afford it is a challenge. On the other hand, another persona may have a goal to spend more quality time together, in which travel would be a great solution.
Topics of Interest One of the biggest questions around content marketing is, “What should we write about?” This section of your persona will make content creation so much easier. Consumers directly ask questions in search engines and other forums. This means that the topics your marketing personas need answers to are accessible. Knowing these queries will be a game-changer for your content strategy.
Day-to-Day Insights To get a good understanding of how these elements may work together, take the time to write a few paragraphs about your persona’s day-to-day responsibilities. You want to think about how they experience their challenges, what their buying process is, and when the best time to deliver your message would be. For example, if you sell financial software, the person who would be using it may not be the person who can make the decision to purchase it. However, they may be the best person to present it for approval. So, your marketing to them should include ways to easily help them sell their boss.
In addition to the above marketing persona information, there are other elements that you’d typically include when targeting businesses:
Company Information Creating a profile of the business itself helps you to understand which stage they are in, what their current needs are and what additional challenges they may face. A company that has been in business for 3 months would have very different needs than one that has been around for 3 years. Some information that may help you in targeting includes: company revenue, number of employees, number of locations, and the job titles of the person using/buying your product/service. When you know more about the company, you can also add more challenges and goals to your lists. For example, if a company is fairly new, they likely have staff members that wear multiple hats and handling the responsibilities of more than one position. They are on a lean budget but will invest in necessary solutions. If a company is established, they likely have extra money in their budget for products or services that will make their staff/processes more efficient. They may also have a longer process for purchasing. Each company will have its own set of challenges at each stage of business, so the more you can learn, the better your marketing will be.
Purchasing Processes One other set of information you may find useful is the chain of command for purchasing. I briefly mentioned this above but it’s important to know, so I want to be thorough. In many organizations there is a process when a staff member wants to buy something for their department. There are situations where someone has to submit it to their department head and they have the authority to simply approve it. Other times, these requests have to be approved by the finance department and require a purchase order. These processes can take anywhere from a few days to over a week. And in some cases, they have to wait for a new quarter to start before their funds refresh. This information is key when deciding when and how to deliver your message to your marketing personas.
B2C personas also have additional information that can be added to your profile to give you more insight.
Lifestyle There are times when someone’s lifestyle can come into play in marketing. Some details include:
- Living Situation (lives alone, with significant other, with family/kids, in retirement home, etc.)
- Activities & Hobbies (play/watch sports, enjoys fine dining, entertains at home, likes fitness activities, likes to travel, volunteers often, close with family, etc.)
- Assets (Owns home, car, boat, income property, etc.)
The key to success when creating marketing personas is gather as much information as you can and always keep them updated. Things change very quickly in our world and there are new challenges all the time. Gain a competitive edge by continuously re-evaluating your audiences.
Where to Find Information for Your Marketing Persona Elements
Now that you know what information you should include in your personas, let’s look at the places to find all the information.
Creating surveys to get information from your actual customers is the best way to find the answers you seek. You’re getting first-hand insights that tend to give you even more inspiration for crafting the best messaging. If you have a client base that you can offer a survey to, start there.
If you have analytics set up on your website, (if not, set up Google Analytics) you can view basic demographic information about customers. Under the audience tab, you can view demographics, interests, location, the device they used to access your site and more.
When customers leave a review, they typically give you great insight to what the product or service did for the and why they are happy—or unhappy. Read through your reviews and your competitors reviews. Essentially, you can find out what problems you can solve and what wording they are using for when it’s time to write your copy.
We can learn a lot about what topics people are looking for using keyword research. One of my favorite free tools is Keywords Everywhere. They have a great Chrome browser extension that allows you to see how many people are searching for specific terms and variations of them with every search.
This online forum has questions from individuals on just about any topic you can think of. Simply type in a subject and it will show you a list of questions. You can also ask questions in Quora, too. In the example below, I typed in catering and here are some of the questions that came up.
Answer the Public
This site is different from others that you see all the time. There’s an angry guy that “greets” you when the page loads. However, it has great insight into questions surrounding various topics. In the example below, I typed in life insurance and it gave me this list of questions that people have searched for around the keyword.
As you can see, Answer the Public displays their info a bit differently. You’ll see each section has a different type of question. This is a great tool for finding topics to write about.
How to Use Your Marketing Personas
Now that you have all the detailed information about your customers in the form of a marketing persona, what can you do with it? Actually, quite a bit! Any time you are planning a campaign, writing a blog post, crafting a social media post, composing ad copy, or any other form of marketing communication, use your personas. With each promotion, you should know who you are speaking to and where they are in the buying process. You should always have content for each persona in each stage of your sales funnel. So, use your personas to guide you to sending the right message at the right times.
Until next time…