What is a Persona?
A persona is a fictional character created to help identify potential consumers for a product or service. Each persona is a unique individual that is likely to have an interest in at least one aspect of the product or service that is being sold. For example, the seller of a home gym might have a persona of a middle-aged woman with three kids, who works as a communication manager and is motivated to lose some weight and get shape. Since every persona should have a name we will name her Mary Sullivan. A second persona for this at home gym may be a 16-year-old male who is currently in high school playing football and lacrosse and is motivated to build lean muscle mass. His name will be Greg Johnson. Each of these personas represent a large group of people in similar circumstances.
Why Personas are Essential to Marketing
Personas help marketing efforts in several ways. Right off the bat it forces the marketing team to clearly identify specific targets for their products and services. This is essential to any marketing strategy. Without it there would be significant waste in any marketing effort.
The heart of marketing is to identify a problem or need and highlight the benefit of a product to resolve the problem or satisfy the need. Having a persona-based approach lays out the roadmap to do just that. Take for example our second persona, Greg Johnson. Greg is a teenager who’s motivated to build lean muscle mass. To target Greg a good approach would be highlighting the features of the home gym that build muscle. You can use a muscular male for imagery or you could show studies on how the home gym grows lean muscle mass. You could even show how the home gym improves athletic performance, since we know Greg is an athlete.
Marketing has evolved to a place where we can now target very specifically. Essentially today’s marketing platforms have all adopted the persona-based approach. This is because performance is much better on all metrics (sales, ROI, leads etc). As an example in Facebook Ads you can target by age, gender and interest along with several other characteristics. As you can see the example personas we created you can see we have those fields identified.
That leaves us with an identified prospect, a list of features and benefits that may appeal to that prospect, and a marketing channel designed specifically to get your ads in front of that prospect.
What to do if your Persona-Based Approach is Not Working.
There can be several reasons why your persona-based approach is not working and almost all of them are fixable. It is very possible that the persona is the ideal consumer, but the visuals and messaging in the creative may just be missing the mark. In this situation try updating the creative to see if that helps. We recommend always having multiple versions of creative to test and see what works best.
Another reason could be your persona is built around the user of the product, but they are not typically the one who purchases that product. For example, a maker of cologne may think all their personas must be males. However, according to this article in Science Daily females tend to buy cologne for their male significant others more than males buy it for themselves. Based on this data the cologne maker should have more female personas than it does males.
Finally, it may just be that the persona created is not the right target for the product. If you have tried different creative and nothing seems to be working for a particular persona then the product or service might not be a good fit for that persona. In these situations that persona should be excluded from future marketing strategies and new personas should be created.
As you can see personas are a very effective way to narrow down the focus of any marketing campaign. The persona-based approach is used to identify consumers of your service or product. It then matches features and benefits of your service or product to that consumer and maps out the targeting that should be used on all marketing channels.
Not only is this extremely beneficial to your marketing efforts but it’s pretty fun creating these fictional characters. Give it a try and let us know how it works for you in the comment section below.