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The Dos & Don’ts of Persona-Based Marketing

You’ve heard it before. To be successful with inbound marketing, your content must be relevant to the customer. The content must also be ruthlessly consistent with both your Story and what your company is trying to achieve. More specifically, to get buyers to read your content you need to speak to their pain points and…

You’ve heard it before. To be successful with inbound marketing, your content must be relevant to the customer. The content must also be ruthlessly consistent with both your Story and what your company is trying to achieve. More specifically, to get buyers to read your content you need to speak to their pain points and the challenges they face in their role as they progress throughout their buyer’s journey.

In a recent webinar from the American Marketing Association called “The Power of Persona-based Marketing,” Alice Palmer, Director of Product Marketing at Monotype, demonstrates of the importance of speaking directly to your buyer personas. According to Palmer, companies that use persona-based marketing will see a 25% increase in marketing revenue over organizations that don’t use buyer personas.


The Power of Persona Based Marketing


Simply making a list of your customer demographics and psychographics (“Who” we want to talk with e.g. title, level & function, size, value, geography) isn’t enough. How do you integrate persona messaging into your marketing strategy with simplicity, clarity and alignment? It’s all about knowing your customers as actual people in the context of their role within their business and understanding with specificity “What” their needs are, and rolling up these shared attributes (e.g. Interests, pains, point-of-view, role & stage in buying cycle). Has the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) outlined new strategic objectives and priorities? What are the day to day pains they are faced as they try to achieve this new goal? How are they envisioning what success it looks like once they’ve achieved these goals?
Only after you have solid personas can you judge whether your Story is in alignment and engage in the context of how they want to interact with your brand, and then continue to optimize that experience based on both real-life experience and real-time behavioral data – thus continually optimizing your engagement?

To get started with buyer personas, make sure you’re following these helpful DOs and DON’Ts of persona-based marketing.

DO get to know your target buyers as people.  

Make sure your buyer personas reflect your real, and “ideal” customers of today – not 2 years ago. Interview real people- including your customers, actual buyers, and even your sales people who interact with your customers every day. And don’t ignore the market research sitting on the shelf. Incorporate that market research and an understanding of competitors approaches to get a more holistic perspective on the “Who” and their “What”. Use this information to make your personas feel as real as possible by giving them a name and a face. Instead of “Persona #1,” you might use “Enterprise Tool-Jockey.”

DON’T create your personas without qualitative research to back it up.

Just because people at your company think that “Enterprise Tool-Jockey” is your ideal customer, your data might tell you he’s really a champion to the “Exec Decision Maker” …or vice-versa. Make sure doing comprehensive buyer research before investing in marketing initiatives to personas who might not be the most profitable target.

DO develop detailed journey maps for each persona.

When you’re ready to develop your personas, brainstorm some characteristics of your customers, but remember to not be too limited when making your selections. Always consider how each persona advances through his or her buyer journey. Where does she search for your product (watering holes)? who does she trust? and what are the criteria she judges you by before she buys? Here are some things to consider when choosing your personas:

• Responsibilities (new and traditional)
• Pains, Fears and Anxieties. What are their life-role stresses?
• Attitudes
• Point-of-view
• Motivations, Interests
• Goals/Needs
• Role: title/function/job? Who are they? What do they do?
• Stage in buying cycle – the above changes as they advance and become more educated

DO focus, but DON’T force it.

Be sure to learn the voice of the customer persona. Is it casual, professional, corporate? How detailed do you really need to go? How will they best understand what you’re trying to say? How will they react to your marketing? Understand and get into the mind of your persona. At the same time, be honest and realistic about who your actual buyers are. Don’t force your buyer personas to fit your products.

DO educate and embrace your personas throughout the organization – educate the entire team.

Once your personas are created, be sure to communicate with other departments so that everyone is on the same page. Buyer personas put a face to your customer. This delivers valuable far beyond just the marketing department. Set up a lunch and learn session to review your personas, their role and what the value is to each audience you introduce them to (there are personas within your organization too!) and distribute buyer persona playbooks for quick reference.

DO continually optimize them.

Your personas will change over time because your market does. It’s important that you are regularly analyzing, testing and updating your buyer personas. Are your customers responding to your marketing efforts? Has your target customer’s priorities, pains, attitudes, budgets and/or income level changed? Are you laser-focused on the highest profitable persona?

Marketers that use persona-based marketing are more successful and achieve better results in their inbound and outbound marketing techniques – and so do your sales teams. It’s crucial for companies to identify real, research-driven personas in order to develop simple, aligned marketing strategies. We’ve seen, time and time again, that organizations truly understand their customer’s priorities, wants and needs, they better meet their strategic objectives through brand engagement.

What other key tactics are missing from your marketing strategy? Check out our blog post, 3 Marketing Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make, and see what else your company might need to fix for 2018.

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