That feeling when you don’t know who they are or what they need.
The other day I had a client ask me about personas.
“Shouldn’t we create some?”
I am not exactly sure what precipitated the question, but I assumed he heard or read about the idea of creating personas for his marketing.
We talked a little bit about who his audience types were. I asked him about the profile of his typical client: What role do these people have? What are they typically responsible for? Are they decision makers? What are their goals, needs? What challenges are keeping them up at night?
Somewhat sheepishly, he said he didn’t know. All he could tell me were the basics. Name, typical title, and typical size of business.
I could tell he felt embarrassed he couldn’t tell me more. As if he missed a major step in setting up his marketing efforts. Then, a fear crept in when he asked, “HOW DO I FIND ALL OF THIS OUT!?”
Don’t Overthink It
I have created personas many times for clients both big and small. Sometimes for internal audiences, sometimes for external. Nearly every time, I uncovered major details about their audiences that the clients either didn’t know or didn’t realize were impacting how they communicated.
But how is it possible that I was able to understand their target audiences better than they did?
Easy. I asked the questions. What role do you have? What are you typically responsible for? Are you a decision maker? And so on and so on. I asked the questions until I had a more detailed idea of who they are and what they needed.
But what are personas, and why do they matter?
The More You Know…
Personas, or buyer-types, are archetypes. Profiles of your typical audience member that help uncover the gaps in your marketing and communications planning and implementation.
Details that may seem mundane can make big impact with audience messaging and can determine
whether you are reaching them with the right message at the right time.
You have a better idea what makes your audience tick, now what? Let’s take a quick look by using myself as an example of a buyer-type.
I am a workout person. I focus on staying healthy through diet and exercise. BUT, I am unwilling to spend a lot of money on workout classes, food prep and gear. I buy good running shoes and have a hodge-podge set of barbells I use at home. But occasionally, it would be nice to mix up my running, crunches, and bicep curl routine.
I just provided nearly every workout/fitness company with enough information about me to determine whether I am the right audience member for them to market to.
1. I am already active, but I seek good and different content.
2. I am not spending a lot of money. It’s pretty cheap to be a casual runner.
3. I tend to workout at home, so flexibility is a plus.
Put That Information to Work
Who am I not a target for? Probably companies like Peloton, Lululemon, and luxury gyms with all the amenities. Nothing against these companies, but my priority gear is a great pair of shoes to use at the park and the too big 5k t-shirt is good enough for me to sweat in.
I am, however, a good candidate for workout apps. Convenient, on-demand and I can be naked if I wanted, and no one on my apps knows or cares. Just don’t select the video, join the class feature.
Bonus: I am experienced enough to know when I get a good workout. I am a huge fan of the Fiton app, which has more quality, free content than I have ever experienced. Even though there is a paid component, and I am not a target there, I have told four of my closest friends who might be better candidates for paid content.
Word of mouth marketing is still a powerful tool for your arsenal, and with the right messaging combined with a top-notch customer experience, Fiton captured me and four potential referrals who could convert to paying customers.
Moral of the Story
By having a few details about one person, a company can shape how they communicate. Imagine having a few details about three different targets?
It doesn’t take a lot of effort to find out more about your buyer types, and you can do it on a shoestring. Ask a group of customers if they would be willing to take partinf a focus group, or survey. Set-up some LinkedIn questions or a quick landing page with a 5-minute questionnaire. You can even learn by just
doing some good old-fashioned Internet research.
No matter how you choose to go about it, the more information you know about your audience, the more strategic your marketing will be.
About the Author:
Branding and marketing are storytelling, and the gift of gab comes naturally to Stacey Piefer. For more than 20 years, Stacey has worked in the world of brand, marketing and internal communications helping companies share their unique story with their most prized audiences. Her clients have ranged from multinational oil and gas companies, to small start-ups in HR and recruiting. After working her entire career in the agency world, she went out on her own starting a consultancy called Follow The Words. Stacey is based in Houston, TX where she lives with two high maintenance but sweet rescue terriers who think this work thing is a distraction from her real job - making their lives as comfortable as “humanly” possible.