Building a marketing plan without knowing your audience is like building a house without blueprints. Who are you trying to reach, and with what message or goal in mind? Identifying these things is vital to an effective marketing plan. Whether you are a small business developing your first campaign, or a well-established large corporation, personas provide strategic insights into your target audience.
What is a Marketing Persona?
Marketing, or buyer, personas are a composite view of your target audience. They are based on market research, internal research, data and beliefs you may hold about your ideal customer. They are not modeled after one specific person, such as your highest-paying customer. Instead, they combine the data of many audience members to create a composite view. You may have one or two personas that represent your target market, or you may have ten. It depends on the size and unique needs of your organization.
How to Create a Buyer Persona
Creating accurate personas requires time, strategy, research and attention to detail. One of the best places to start is by reviewing the data you have about current customers and looking for opportunities to gather additional information. Opportunities could include:
- Analyzing customer journeys with your brand on social, your website, and your CRM system.
- Gathering additional information about customers through form fields on your website.
- Speaking with customers or prospects to get their thoughts on your brand.
- Internal brainstorming.
After you gather data, you can begin to identify commonalities and patterns among the different individuals and put the pieces together. You may discover their motivations, interests, buying habits and additional information that helps develop the outline of the persona.
Once the outline is started, you can incorporate information such as demographic information, hobbies or personality traits that are common themes from your research. You will continue including this information to establish one primary persona. If necessary, you can continue to create more personas to fully encompass your audience.
Why Should You Create Unique Customer Personas?
Building a marketing plan, like building a house, requires a plan and end goal before the ground is ever broken. Personas are a vital part of that plan. Establishing personas allows you to invest time and effort into strategies, messaging and tactics that are highly targeted and more effective.
Knowing who your target audience is makes it easier to develop content that piques their interest, or utilize mediums that they are most likely to use. Personas make it easier to keep the goal of a campaign or entire program in mind as you move through the day-to-day implementation.
Similar to a house, personas need updating even after they are established. Reviewing and refreshing them on a yearly or even campaign basis is important. Although they might have accurately represented your ideal customer at one time, you need to ensure that they still do. We recommend continuously keeping your personas in mind and making it a priority to review them on a routine basis. This ensures that you are operating based on accurate data and adapting to major changes as they happen.
How Personas Can Help You Navigate Challenges
Strong personas can help you navigate challenges, such as changes to social media platforms and privacy policies. For example, social media platforms are removing some targeting options due to privacy concerns. Although this is a challenge, knowing your personas can help you think of creative ways to continue reaching the ideal customer. It may require targeting different aspects of your ideal customer in separate ways, or it may require moving to a different platform. It is easier to navigate these challenges when you know the pieces that make up who are you trying to reach, not just the individual themselves.
Are you working through your marketing plan for next year? When was the last time you took a look at your existing personas or created new ones? If you are gearing up for your next campaign or fiscal year, keep your ideal customer in mind as you craft content and creative assets. If you are interested in additional resources for creating personas, contact our team. We’d be happy to help!