Why and How to Use Persona Marketing

You wouldn’t be in business without a clear understanding of your target audience. Persona marketing can help you draw a finer bead on prospective customers and become a more successful marketer.

Persona marketing entails creating fictional yet fact-based profiles of your customers so you can market to them more effectively. The strategy makes particularly good sense for businesses whose products or services require careful or lengthy consideration before purchasing and whose target audience comprises a diverse array of customers.

Developing personas is a lot like creating characters in a story. You want to know a lot about each one — age, gender, occupation, ethnicity, marital status, income bracket, personal background, likes, dislikes, online and offline habits, and more — to draw the most realistic picture possible.

According to Tony Zambito, an expert in B2B buyer persona development, you must follow these six steps for persona marketing to work. The first step is to do your homework: You need to conduct both qualitative and quantitative research.

A common way to develop buyer personas is to create qualitative personas that are validated by quantitative research. Quantitative data includes clickstream and other metrics from your company’s website, including SEO data. If you run a bricks-and-mortar retail store, you can also integrate point-of-sale and traffic pattern analyses. Qualitative data is extremely important as well: To gather it, you can observe your customers’ behavior and conduct interviews to learn more about them.

“Sustainable persona-based marketing is not an overnight proposition,” Zambito cautions, adding that B2B organizations in particular should take a long-term view, monitoring and updating buyer research and personas periodically.

Once you have the raw material that will go into creating your personas, you should describe each one in writing and include the following details:

  • demographics
  • personal and professional goals
  • what keeps them up at night
  • how they spend their time and money
  • what they do online (content they consume, social media channels they use, etc.)
  • three questions they must get answered before purchasing from you or a competitor
  • what you must do to earn their business
  • what you must do to earn their loyalty

Yes, this is a lot of information. But developing buyer personas is a lot like choosing a spouse: The more you know, the more likely you are to forge a lasting union, Zambito says.

Once you have created your personas, be sure to share them with others in the company — particularly those outside marketing — to ensure that you haven’t overlooked any key details.

Armed with these personas, you can devise email marketing campaigns and in-store offers that achieve better customer engagement, allow you to gain a deeper understanding of your customers, and even help you hone your product or service lineup.

If several people at a company need to sign off before purchasing your product, it may make sense to target each of those personas with content or offers appropriate to specific stages of the buyer’s journey. By the same token, if you sell a consumer product that caters to a variety of personas, you can increase customer loyalty by tailoring offers to each one.

You’ll find additional tools for developing buyer personas at the Buyer Persona Institute and TonyZambito.com.

About Leslie Ayers

Leslie Ayers is a veteran technology and business writer. She has held lead editorial roles at Ziff-Davis and Future US.
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