How often do you hear someone talk about marketing personas? If you’re in the marketing world, probably a lot. You’ve likely heard people say something like “Katherine is a 23-year-old, single woman who lives in London and works as a freelance writer for online publications.” In other words, this is a classic example of a target market. But are these personas really all that helpful? And what do they mean for your business or your career? This post will explore those questions and give you some practical tips for using personas to attract customers to your business.
This might sound a bit harsh, but it’s true: personas are not real people. Yes, they might have names that make you cringe (like “The Hipster” or “The Millennial”), but these are made-up characters to help companies understand their customers better. Although there can be value in using personas as a starting point for thinking about your target audience and how they behave, they don’t consider the nuances of actual human beings.
Personas can also be very complex—not everyone is like those neatly divided into categories on Wikipedia pages! Some people may fit into more than one category; others might not fit any at all because their behaviour is so unique that no one has encountered anyone like them before (or if anyone has encountered them before, there’s not enough information available about those individuals). It’s important to remember that there are no rules when it comes to creating effective marketing campaigns—the only thing you need to do is think about what makes sense for your brand’s goals and objectives.
Some people think that personas are stupid, but they’re not. When you understand your customers, you can tailor your marketing message to them better and get better results.
Personas help us understand who our customers are, what problems they have and what solutions we can offer them. They give us a roadmap to creating an effective marketing strategy that resonates with real people – the kind of people who might become loyal customers for life.
Ask yourself the following questions about your marketing personas:
- Does your persona align with your business?
- Is it relevant to your product or service?
- Is it a good representation of who you are and what you do?
Does Your Marketing Persona Reflect Your Actual Customers?
So, your marketing persona is a key component of your overall marketing strategy. It’s an understanding of who you think your target audience is, what they want and how they behave. If it doesn’t reflect the actual people in your business’s market, then it might be a waste of time.
If you have done thorough research into the personas that make up your target audience, made sure that it really does represent them well and used this information to inform all other aspects of your marketing strategy (like where to advertise), then yes: having a marketing persona can be extremely beneficial.
Number of Personas vs. Persona Types.
Some people are under the impression that you can only have one persona. That’s not true. You can have several personas, and each can have different types.
Let’s say you’re selling dog food online. Your target market could be people who own dogs, people who want to own dogs, or both! In order to get them to buy your brand of dog food, you need to understand their goals and motivations as well as any other relevant factors such as age or income level.
Now let’s say you’re selling suits online too—but this time with a focus on power dressing for executives in finance positions at banks or hedge funds (ahem). The types of suit-buyers will still fall into two categories: those who already have offices but need something new for meetings with clients; and those who work from home but want something stylish for going out after work (think bankers).
Buyer Personas May Be ‘Impossible’ to Create.
If you want to create buyer personas, maybe it’s best to stop thinking about them as “buyer personas.”
In most of what we read about and hear about marketing persona creation, there is a focus on the external attributes of your customers—what they look like, where they live and what their income level is. These are all important things to know. But when you put yourself in the shoes of your customers (and I mean really dig deep into those shoes), it’s easy to forget that there are other ways that they’re different from one another beyond just these basic demographic details.
Even if we manage to collect a lot of information about our potential customers—demographics, job titles, purchase history—we still haven’t captured everything there is to know about them: Who are these people who will use my product or service? What do they want out of life? What keeps them up at night? How do they feel on any given day? Do they have any weird habits or preferences that might affect how I should go about reaching them with my message or marketing strategy?
You must be clear on who you’re targeting, but it doesn’t have to be sophisticated and time-consuming.
You don’t need to spend a lot of time on creating your personas; it can be as simple as answering these questions:
- Who am I trying to reach?
- Why do they care about what we have to offer them?
- What are their goals and dreams, their current situation and their life stage?
They are if you make them that way. In this post, I’ve tried to show you where personas can go wrong and how to avoid those pitfalls. But as we have seen, there is lots of value in personas when they are done right. So rather than asking if personas are stupid, instead consider how you can use them best in your marketing efforts.