Using Personas to Your Marketing Advantage

There are a lot of ways to market your products and services. The best, though, is to develop a marketing persona. Marketing personas help you hone your vision and message so that it will reach the audience for which it is intended. They are a fantastic tool and the sooner you learn how to build them, the better.

What is a Marketing Persona

Before we go any further, let’s get one thing straight: a marketing persona is not a brand personality or character you make up to better advertise your company. Flo from Progressive is not a marketing persona. Neither was Jared from Subway. These are characters made up to act as a human face of your brand. They are projecting your message out.

A marketing persona, on the other hand, is, to put it simply, your vision of your ideal customer. The marketing persona is meant to project your audience inward so that you can tailor your message to it. They are sometimes called “buying personas.”

How Do You Create a Marketing Persona

In many ways, creating marketing personas is sort of like putting together a character sketch. You look at your market research data and base the persona on your most prominent demographics. You give the persona a name, an occupation, hobbies, etc. If you never had to write a character sketch or do a character study in school, that’s okay. There are some great templates out there from companies like Primary Intelligence that will help you with the building process.

What’s the Difference?

There are some who argue that you can tailor your content and marketing based solely on what you learn through marketing research and data. This might be fine if you are trying to sell to a corporation or are involved in another B2B endeavor. If your business is B2C based, however, you need to be able to see your audience as actual people. Marketing directly to a person–even one you made up–is always easier than marketing to a number. It helps your message sound like it was meant to help people solve their problems whereas data-based marketing sounds more like a hollow sales pitch.

Does it Make a Difference?

Companies that employ marketing personas in their campaigns see a marked improvement in their conversions and sales numbers. Here are some statistics you need to know:

  • Emails sent with marketing personas in mind drove 18 times more revenue than general email blasts.
  • One case study proved that using marketing personas improved sales leads by more than 124%.
  • Companies who use marketing personas even saw a 50%+ increase in organic search engine traffic.

Tips for Creating Marketing Personas

Okay, so the numbers are good. All you have to do is invent a fictional character and you’re off to the races, right? Not so fast. There are a few things to keep in mind as you begin to incorporate marketing personas into your campaigns.

Don’t limit yourself to one persona. Yes, having an ideal customer is a good thing. However, only developing a single persona will dramatically limit your campaign’s reach. It is much better to develop 4-5 subtly different personas to embody the different subsets of your ideal audience.

Names and faces are important. Never allow yourself to refer to your personas as numbers or letters. This reduces their humanity, which is antithetical to your goal. Always name each persona and, for good measure, figure out what they look like. You might even want to find someone who matches that description on a stock photo site to help you better imagine each persona.

Build some negative, or exclusionary, personas. These are personas that you invent who are based on customers you don’t want to purchase your products or services. These are the buyers who are likely to return the item or demand a refund and who will leave negative feedback because they don’t understand the product properly. Knowing how to avoid these buyers is just as important as knowing how to attract your ideal buyers.

The basic point is this: it is always better to market to people than it is to market to data. Creating marketing personas helps you humanize both your company and your message.

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