Enter the marketing persona. Personas allow you to identify prototypes of people that might be interested in your service: they might be consumers, or as is often the case with professionals, a referral source. If the concept of marketing personas, often called buyer personas, is new to you, this definition by Wikipedia sums it up:
In marketing and user-centered design, personas are fictional characters created to represent the different user types within a targeted demographic, attitude and/or behavior set that might use a site, brand or product in a similar way.
Why Create Marketing Personas?
The main reason to create personas is to identify how to connect with your audience. It helps to know whom you’re selling to and what messages will connect with them. By understanding your target client and their habits, you have much better odds of getting in front of them and creating something that will capture their attention.
Imagine if you spent the time to model the following information about your clients: What gender are they? What’s a typical level of education? How do they consumer their news? Where do they hang out online? Where do they spend their time? What causes them pain?
By understanding these considerations, you can identify market segments. You can facilitate hyper-specialization and niche strategies, which are critical in a crowded marketplace. From there, you can create informed mechanisms to interact with your potential client base.
What Does a Marketing Persona Look Like?
Personas should have names. In the software industry, we’re used to using Alice and Bob. The BBC created Dave and Sue. Regardless of the moniker you choose, names make your personas seem more concrete.
An excellent example of persona creation I stumbled across is from marketing speaker Ernest Barbaric. In an article he wrote on the subject of advanced target marketing, he included the following graphic:
How Do I Get Started Creating Personas?
There’s a good chance you already know who your personas might be. If your organization has enough history, take a group of your employees to lunch and start identifying prototypical people from your existing client base. The trick is to identify folks that represent larger trends.
Next, aggregate information about the persona. Create a questionnaire that you fill out. There are forms already created that can give you a jump start, such as this buyer persona template. The inbound marketing firm Hubspot also has great information on personas and questions you should ask when fleshing out their profiles.