Personas are a way to understand your market segment. I’ll bet you think you know all about personas. But do you have them? Are you using them to define your market segment or are they sitting in a notebook somewhere totally forgotten? I thought so. I am going to breathe some life back into those market segments, known as personas, by bringing you the traditional persona criteria and another way to look at your market segments.
One of the most engaging definitions of personas I found comes from Sean Sweeney in his article Buyer Personas—The Key to Small Business Website Success where he says, “If you have ever watched a police investigation show like CSI, you’ve probably heard the term “criminal profiling“. Investigators profile offenders so they can understand their behaviours, what makes them tick, why they do the things they do and to forecast what they will do in the future. It’s the same thing in business except we call it building buyer personas and it’s all part of persona marketing.” That is another phrase for market segment.
Why go to the trouble?
When you know the personas in your market segment you can relate to people on their level. You aren’t just sending marketing as a general concept out into the ether hoping someone somewhere finds it. You have a concrete idea of this market segment.
- With a buyer persona you don’t have to guess who you are marketing to.
- Your buyer persona helps you learn to focus on their needs and bring them to your business as the solution to their needs.
- Having personas humanized for your abstract data putting a face on all the demographic details.
- Using your personas you can help your marketing team understand your real customers.
- Buyer personas can guide you into knowing if a marketing idea is on target.
What do you need to know to develop a persona?
HubSpot created a free slide show A Marketer’s Template for Creating Buyer Personas that we are going to use to get past more lists. The four visuals below demonstrate the information you need to find out in order to market to your segment.
Another way to look at personas?
That’s the long and short of this way of determining the persona in any marketing segment. But that is not the only way to look at personas. During my research I came upon an eBook by John Bonini called The Ultimate Guide for Creating Profitable Buyer Personas. What interested me most was a graph John showed as another way to look at the questions HubSpot showed us above. What surprised me was that John didn’t talk about this chart at all in the eBook. Let’s look at it and talk about this as another way to view your persona marketing segment.
In this interesting chart, the personas are seen in the different buying stages from unaware to invested. Each of these stages has different needs, types of content, content tone and practical examples of the content. Instead of looking at a certain kind of person with information about sex, age, income, number of children, cars or dogs, this chart talks about the buyer as a buyer. Novel.
In a recent heartburn commercial the spokesman says, “This is the land of America where we not only sell people what they need, but we sell them things they don’t even know they need.” That certainly fits the person who is unaware of his own needs. He may be in pain, but he isn’t sure what to do about it. Like heartburn medicine, the person might think he needs to see the doctor and then finds out that there is an over-the-counter medicine to cure his pain with just one pill in the morning.
The hesitant buyer is the one who discovers when he goes to the store to get the heartburn medicine that there are several claiming to do the same thing as the one he saw on the television. Another television ad compares two cold remedies giving the consumer education in order to help them make the decision. The investigative persona seeks to be able analyze the subject and so seeks to see which cold medicine has the ingredient the other doesn’t.
In the terms of a target segment, the person who is almost ready to take the plunge may need reassurance that he is making the best choice. While not so important in buying cold medicine or heartburn medicine, this becomes a serious factor for the person buying a car. He will need to get relief from his pains of risk and doubt. He needs to feel his decision is valid.
Validation is also an issue for the committed buyer and the invested one although their needs are different. Looking at the content tone of the marketing plan for the buyer who is committed, but not yet invested, we see that he will need to look at the car brochures to see what is under the hood and what the mileage is. While the person who has invested his money in a car will want to know the best times to replace the oil, what the tire pressure should be and what is the cheapest gas he can use. He will be the one who will appreciate “Insider” Tips since he has become one.
But does this do away with what went on before?
In this graph, the target segment person can be anyone. And this can be a problem since you wouldn’t use the same advertisement style with an 8-year-old girl as you would for her 50-year-old grandmother. In order to know what the best way to target your specific market is, you still need to know who your ideal buyer is according to the information on the HubSpot charts. Then you can fit this persona into these different stages and see exactly what sort of content type and tone to use.
Have you decided to dig that old persona out of the notebook, dust it off and apply it to John’s chart? Please tell us why you would do that or why not in the box below.
Jaco Grobbelaar is the owner of BroadVision Marketing. BroadVision Marketing works with business owners to put in place inbound and outbound marketing strategies that consistently secure new clients. The BroadVision Marketing Training Center is located in Petaluma, CA and primarily serves companies in the San Francisco Bay area.