So you have at least heard of a marketing persona by now, but what the hell is it and why on earth would your business need one? I often hear this type of question from my clients at the beginning stages of their project, but not long after that they start to see the full power and usefulness of creating these buyer personas. Even more exciting, they really want to help and offer to make these themselves! Of course I don’t let my clients do all the work and then pay me for it, but the fact that they are getting that excited shows off the greatness these personas can have.
Consumer Targeting History 101
Let’s start with a little bit of history, but not too much. In the past, marketers didn’t have access to their customers and the hoards of data that we do today, so they had to rely on what they could measure. This usually meant age, sex, location, income level, and maybe ethnicity.
Well, as you have probably observed in your life, you can’t really predict a person’s actions very well based on that criteria. Things had to change. With the rise of large data farms, social networks (not much different than a data farm), analytics, and more in depth sociological and consumer studies, we now have way more information about consumer behavior than we ever did before.
So, what can we do with all of this access to consumers and their buying habits? We create marketing personas of course! But wait, what is a marketing persona?
What Is A Marketing Persona?
A marketing persona is essentially a fictional consumer profile based on who your company’s customers really are. We are beyond the days of targeting middle income Latina females between the ages of 30-50 or black men between the ages of 18-24. That was the old way. The new way allows us to dive deeper into who our customers are. We ask questions like what are their goals and values, where do they research before buying, what pain points do they come across during the buying process, and more. HubSpot has written a great post about the kinds of questions you can ask to make these profiles highly useful.
Asking and answering these kinds of questions allow us to really understand who our consumers are so that we can improve our products, buying experience, marketing materials, and web presence in a way that will attract and convert more of the customers we want. You do want more customers and lower customer acquisition costs, don’t you?
Why Do I Need A Marketing Persona?
When we create these marketing personas, we are painting a really clear picture of who our customers are. When we know who our customers are, we can offer them what they want and how they want it. When you offer what your customers want and give it to them the way they want it, you can increase your sales and profits. It is a win-win situation for consumers and marketers alike.
Creating these profiles is extremely useful for marketing. However, as I tell all of my clients, it is much more than that! These profiles should be the backbone of everything your business does. Without customers, you don’t have a business, so don’t overlook the weight these personas carry. Marketing personas should be implemented in everything your business does, including the products/services that you offer, your pricing, marketing, design style, customer service approach, and anything else that your business does.
Great, So Now What?
Awesome, you now understand that marketing personas are fictional consumer profiles based on your real customers. You also know that these profiles extend greatly beyond just your company’s marketing materials and they help form the backbone of your business. Well, now that you have the basics, I highly recomend checking out a marketing persona template so that you can wrap your head around what this might look like when it is finished. Also, feel free to see what others have done as well, some can be very simple while others get very complex and detailed.