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How to Create a Marketing Persona (Marketing Basics)

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When trying to get the attention of your crush, what kind of approach do you take? And did you know that the same philosophy people use towards romance can be applied to corporate strategy as well? 

The following truths apply to both romance and business:
 You can’t come on too strong in the beginning - you have to build up the relationship little by little first
 You have to try to fully understand the person you’re interested in
 You can’t approach everyone the same way and expect the same response

In the earlier days of traditional marketing, businesses used to be able to purchase an ad in the newspaper, appealing to the masses, and the masses would respond. However, in the modern Information Age, we’ve become accustomed to getting attacked by ads on social media, Google, Amazon… every screen we look at. This is why people will simply ignore any advertising message that isn’t written specifically FOR THEM. 

Every company is trying to come up with a strategy to differentiate itself from its rivals by delivering their marketing message in an innovative way. But what’s most important here, is to make sure you know exactly what kind of person you’re trying to reach, so that you can present your message in a way that resonates with them. With this in mind, in this article, we’re going to go over a core concept in marketing - the persona - and how you can create your customer persona in a few simple steps.

1. What is a Marketing Persona?

Definition: A persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer, which is typically designed by the marketing team to narrow down and define their target audience. When you create a persona, you need to think about details like their age, gender, occupation and position at work, economic background, what area they live in, hobbies or interests they’re likely to have. You want to get down to the nitty-gritty details of what inherently motivates your customer, like what are their core values and long-term goals?

2. The Two Main Benefits of Creating Personas

・Create a truly customer-centric business

When taking the time to set a customer persona, you’re setting yourself up to be able to plan the product design, customer experience, marketing, and customer service all around what your real customer would want. You can build a deeper understanding of your customers’ lifestyle, socioeconomic situation, and ways of thinking, so that you can develop the perfect solution for them and the best marketing channels or methods to get their attention.

・Align your whole business around one specific audience

If you don’t have a defined persona, each employee’s idea of the target audience will differ depending on their own personal experiences with customers. However, by creating a persona and sharing it company-wide, you can align every department’s direction, from product design to sales. You can also create more personalized marketing campaigns, surrounding what you consider your most valuable customer segment, and get a more positive response from this group as a result.

3. How to Create a Persona (10 Essential Elements)

Even if you’ve already narrowed down your target to a specific demographic, each person in that demographic may have a different lifestyle and personality. Though some characteristics may be hard to assume, try to brainstorm what kind of people would sympathize with your product and potentially want to try it. Even if you try to design a product that works for everyone, you won’t be able to get that many people to feel a strong need for it as it doesn’t respond to their unique situation. 

In this section, I’ve listed the 10 essential items you want to consider when creating a persona. Look through while considering the kind of people that would most likely feel a need for your product.

10 essential items to set when creating a persona! 

① General information (age, gender, place of residence, etc.)

② Occupation (university, faculty, industry, position, last educational background)

③ Lifestyle (waking hours, commuting hours, working hours, bedtime, eating out or cooking for oneself, how to spend holidays)

④ Personality (sense of value, way of thinking about things), realities in life (problems, interests)

⑤ Relationships (presence or absence of girlfriend, spouse, children, family structure)

⑥ Income, money-spending habits

⑦ Hobbies and interests (indoor or outdoor, trends among friends, etc.)

⑧ Internet usage and time spent online

⑨ Devices owned

⑩ Sensitivity to trends

4. How to Create a Persona (The Creation Process)

In order to create a usable persona, it can’t totally be based on your subjective idea of your target audience. You need to incorporate actual data and analyze the characteristics and behaviors of real, existing customers. Here, I’ll go through a few basic methods of analysis to use when creating a persona. 

Interviews and surveys

Have your sales team, consultants, and customer support conduct interviews with your actual clients. The number of interviews you should conduct varies on how wide your target audience already is, but you’ll know you have enough data when you’ve done a decent number of interviews and you realize you’re not getting any fresh insights anymore. In the case that it’s difficult to have a one-to-one conversation with your clients, you could ask them to cooperate in a short survey for the sake of bettering your services, and distribute this through email or SNS.

Use of existing data

It is also effective to refer to existing surveys from market research that has been made accessible online. When doing so, remember to pay attention to the authenticity of the data and note when the survey was conducted (if it’s a few years back, it may not be a valid source of information anymore). Also make sure to critically analyze this data on your own before basing your persona off it.

Web access analysis

Another great source of data are web analytics, like Google Analytics or marketing automation, to review the past activity of your website visitors. Check what kind of people accessed what pages, and around what time, what pages they looked at, what they clicked, and what they bought. This will give you tons of valuable insights into their interests and needs.

5. Tips For Creating Personas in B2B

Setting a customer persona is as important in B2B marketing as it is in B2C. However, since the buying process is very different in B2B business, the process for designing a persona is slightly different.

When designing a persona in B2C, you typically zone in on the customer’s personal life, and look at things like their hobbies or family structure, but in B2B, you need to direct your focus to the type of company they belong to. For example, you need to look into the common business goals and challenges of your target customers. In addition, consider factors like the type of industry, main business activities, number of employees, capital, annual sales, and management philosophies. Lastly, B2B sales are more complex and often involve several people in the buying decision, from the first PoC (point of contact), their manager, and the top executive. Since you will be marketing to all of these levels of customers, you have to design a persona for each of these people.

6. Summary

Setting up marketing personas requires a lot of work in terms of research, analysis, and design, but this is a critical step in developing a successful marketing strategy. You can also cut down on advertising costs if you’re able to narrow down and define your target. Why not take your marketing to the next level by designing a persona?

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