Power to the Persona – Right On
Recently, I was introduced to the process of Pragmatic Marketing – a tenant of which is buyer personas. What, I asked myself, are buyer personas and why am I just now hearing about them? (If you’re interested in this topic, but not in reading this whole blog, just skip to the Bottom Line Takeaway.)
Not surprisingly, upon digging deeper, I discovered that essentially, developing a buyer persona is something that marketers and communicators have been doing since our modern-day professions came into existence, somewhere in the early 50s. (And no, I haven’t been doing this since the 50s!) Of course, we called it something else, like demographic market segmentation, or audience targeting. But, if you were doing it right, the message and the media were always driven by the anticipated response of the intended receiver.
What has brought about a sea change, and the emergence of the buyer persona, are all the many available channels for getting messages out now and the demand by modern day audiences to have messaging customized individually for them.
Face it, previous media and message targeting offered all the precision and refinement of a sledge hammer. Typical media targeting was primarily limited to gender and age (which was roughly broken out into 12-17 yo, 18-24 yo, 25-34 yo, 35-44 yo, 35-44 yo, 45-54 yo, 55-64 yo and 65+).
Buyer personas go a little deeper than that. They take into account “who,” “what,” “why” and “how” (If you’re a “J” major, you know this isn’t a new concept either!!!).
To simplify the process, personas are developed based on research, customer (and prospect) demographic and attitudinal profiling, and a good dose of gut. From this, you develop a fictitious profile of a persona. You give that persona a name, such as Marie Manager or Homeowner Harry – or you could just call him Dave. You can even assign a fictitious photo if that helps bring the persona to life for you.
Then you fill out the rest of the persona, which can include anything from how many children the persona has, to how many years they’ve worked in their profession, to actual quotes you’ve garnered from interviews with customers who fit this profile.
Once you’ve fleshed out these personas, you can effectively go about designing your strategies, developing messages that resonate and selecting the proper media, not only for reaching, but influencing each persona.
The other interesting thing about personas, it’s ok to have a negative or exclusionary persona – a representation of whom you don’t wish to engage. Radical concept!! But there really are personas who may be too expensive to acquire, may only buy from you once, may not care about your cause. And it is perfectly permissible to define this negative persona(s) as well, so that you, and your team, don’t waste precious resources on limited returns.
Bottom Line Takeaway
Buyer personas are not just for buyers. Personas are important for donor relations, for civic engagement, for membership development and retention and any other objective that requires effectively influencing others to take action that benefits them and helps your organization reach its goals.
Hopefully, this topic stimulates your interest and research into using personas to advance your mission. For a free 30-minute consultation on developing brand personas for your organization, contact us.
In case you missed it, the headline of this post is an homage to the late, great John Lennon.