Know Thy Customer! 5 Steps to Creating Killer Marketing Personas

Louise Armstrong
by Louise Armstrong on January 30, 2014 in Strategy
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The principle behind inbound marketing is to get your customers to come looking for you. To do that successfully, you need to give them a reason to believe you can help resolve the needs or wants they experience. Considering these differ from one person to the next, targeting your content requires you to have a precise definition of an ideal customer. This helps you to deliver information that directly answers your prospect’s questions. It’s necessary to create the very best marketing personas you can for this purpose, if you want to get it right. Persona

Step #1: Determine the Categories

Make a list of the products or services you sell and group them into categories based on sales data. If you only sell one service this probably isn’t necessary, but for companies that offer a wide range of products it’s essential that you identify the groupings adequately.

For example, a plumbing contractor might offer:

  • Water pipe installations for new homes
  • Drain repairs
  • Hot water heater replacements
  • Inspections

This company may be able to group inspections and drain repairs into a single category, or it may prefer to keep them separate depending on the customer profile for each service.

Step #2: Conduct Research

Research your target market to identify the size of your potential market share. Find out how many homes exist in the area you serve and what the demographics are of the larger groups. Establish whether they mostly own or rent their homes, what their income levels are, and analyze the touch points or methods of communication they consume. Ask questions about your prospective clients, such as:

  1. What sort of job title do they hold?
  2. What reasons might they have to buy your product or service?
  3. Where would they start looking for answers to their problems?
  4. What phase of the buying cycle are they likely to be in when they find your company’s online presence?

Investigate psychographic factors such as their priorities, their pain points or the things that bother them, values and aspirations, and determine how your product or service plays into these. In the plumbing analogy, you should end with a picture of the number of homes in your geographical area, the value and age of the property and its plumbing system, and the financial status of the majority of the home owners.

Step #3: Test the Theories

All good research depends on testing to confirm its validity. Before you rush out and start marketing new water pipe installations to all young couples who are looking at new homes, get input from the various stakeholders in your company:

  • Ask the sales team to confirm whether your personas fit the profile of their most active customers.
  • Consult with your installation team to ascertain your categories are an accurate reflection of the work the company does.
  • Survey a sample of your customers to find out whether your assumptions are correct regarding the way they research and buy.

Offer incentives for the various parties to participate in your testing, otherwise you may struggle to get responses. You can conduct the tests through online surveys, face-to-face interviews or focus groups, to get a sense of whether you’re on the right track.

Step #4: Describe Your Customers

Often, once marketers have the information listed above they stop short of actually creating a proper marketing persona. This doesn’t help you to customize your marketing quite as tightly as you would if you were speaking to an individual, so you lose some of the personalization and, by extension, the effectiveness.

Work through your market research and the product or service categories you listed, and identify which group or segment of customers in your target market would be most likely to purchase each one. Compare the data you gathered to identify a specific picture of your customer for each category.

Use your customer insights gained during research to create between 3 and 5 personas to flesh out. Give each one a name, a gender, a personality, a job and a background, and visualize them as real people. This will give you a reference point for the message you want to deliver to each specific market segment, and you’ll be able to see any areas of overlap where you can use a similar promotional approach for more than one persona.

Step #5: Making it Work

Once you have fully-functional marketing personas set up, it’s a simple process to customize your inbound marketing campaigns specifically for each one. You’ll be able to deliver targeted, specific messages that attract the right prospects, answer their questions before they ask them and provide you with qualified leads to pass on to your sales team for closing. It takes time and effort to set up the best personas, but the rewards will be worthwhile.

*Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

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Louise Armstrong

Louise Armstrong

Louise is a Senior Digital Strategist at Bonafide. A pop-culture addict with a passion for all things digital. She's Scottish by birth, but don't ask if she likes haggis...