Get to know your customers.
A phrase that means so much, but yet very few companies use fully.
This post is specifically addressed to Mary, David, John and Zao.
All these people are “marketing personas”, working in various nutraceutical manufacturing and retail companies in the USA, Europe and Asia. Their names are fictional – however their positions are real, and the blog posts that we write in this blog are all addressed to them.
These people are our readers. For example, David could be working as a Marketing Manager for a major nutraceutical manufacturing company in Germany. Zao may be working as an Comms Manager for XYZ NutraIngredients in China, and similarly, Mary could be a Marketing Executive for a US-based online supplements retailer.
All these fictional characters are part of what we call, personas. You may have heard them by other terms, like avatars, or buying personas or ideal clients. The names don’t really matter.
What matters is that your business, whether your are a nutraceutical manufacturer or a supplements/vitamins retailer, needs to put a name to a range of people that read your blog posts.
Building marketing personas for the audience you address to can help improve the way you solve challenges for your customers. The process of creating personas is well worth the time.
Here is a blueprint and beginner’s guide to getting started.
Starting With The Basics: Creating A Personal Sheet & What It Must Contain
As with every “war” plan, everything should (according to a weird, 80’s mentality) start with pen and paper. So, all you have to do is jot down all the information that you think a persona may “need” to be created. However, before we continue, there is a question going on in your mind, and that is “but wait! I have more than one buyer!”
To which I respond, yes, that’s true.
So, how many of these buying personas do you need to create? What I always recommend is that, in order not to waste your time in creating several personas that may have different characteristics, sum up everything into three to five personas the most (unless your marketing department can waste their time in creating more than five, which is totally fine). Over the years, I have found that this number is just the right size to represent your buyer’s characteristics and at the same time, be as specific as possible.
Start with basic information. Ideally, what you need to know is who the person is, what they care about, and how you think you must “speak” to them. Here is a list on what you should include in your marketing persona template:
Persona Name, i.e. Jennifer Higgins
- Provide information of the ideal company you would like them to work in (size, type, etc.)
- Details about their role
- What is their salary and how much do they take home?
- Where are they located? Is it a big city? A suburban area? At the countryside?
Goals and challenges
- What are their primary goals? What is they are trying to achieve within the scope of their role? Remember, your business exists to make your ideal client’s job easier. For example, if you are a manufacturer producing private label supplements, your persona’s goal may be to find and work with a factory that offers bespoke designs.
- Secondary goal
- How you help achieve these goals
- Primary challenge
- Secondary challenge
- How you help solve these problems
Values / fears
- Primary values
- Common objections during sales process
In addition, you should write what would your core marketing message must be that encompases all the above. And that is the hard part.
Elevator pitch: Last but not least, when you approach them, what do you say that is memorable, stands out and makes an impression, leaving your competition that simple says “we are the leading blah, blah, blah”
If the above are unclear or overwhelming, no worries, we have examples below. For the moment, please keep reading.
Step 2: What additional persona information can you think of?
As Dan Kennedy points out, all businesses are the same. However, deep down, you and I agree that each business appeals to different buyers, that have different characteristics. In my 18+ years in marketing, I never came across creating the same personas for different businesses in the same industry, so take my word when I say that personas can vary from business to business and industry to industry.
With that in mind, you might consider adding some additional, more specific bits of information that you may know or suspect that are appealing or used by your personas.
- Where they get their news
- Blogs they read
- Influencers they follow
Step 3: Obtain the information for creating your persona
Having said the above, I assume that you created your sheet of paper with all these titles and you have possibly added a few info there. What about the rest? Where do you get all the information you need to “formulate” a persona? There are too many sources where you can get vital information for your audience, maybe too many to count – these range from data logged in your site statistics to even talking with real-life prospects or customers.
Lets explore three for now (the most important ones):
A. Start by analysing your website statistics
Your nr. one source of free, unbiased marketing information is, and probably will always be, Google Analytics. Log in to your dashboard and from there:
- Scroll over to the audience insight tab
- You will see subcategories where you can gather interests, locations, demographics and anything else you may find relevant to your research.
B. Continue with social media research
Social media provides an excellent resource of what exactly your audience thinks, speaks about and feels. Buffer, the popular social media management tool, has a very extensive post on how to use social media to understand buyer’s conversations.
Therefore, you can also use social media listening to find your potential customers asking questions in real time. Centis Digital offers this service as well using Awario, a social media listening tool. You get the comment in a streamline fashion and all you have to do is respond or take it under consideration.
For example, this is a screenshot from our dashboard, monitoring conversations all around the web (including Twitter, Facebook, Googleplus, YouTube, Reddit, Blogs and News sites) for Vitafoods Europe 2019:
And this is how mentions are forming during the month:
C. The obvious: Ask your audience questions.
No one knows better about what your customer wants than your customers themselves. To understand your audience better, there are three ways: pick up the phone, and talk to them, or create a feedback (in God’s name, do not call it a survey!) or email them directly.
However, we have found that performing actual customer interviews were the most helpful in determining what your prospects or customers, like, what their problems are and how we can solve them. If you do not know what to ask, try these questions that will help you start:
- What’s important to them in their current role?
- What would they like to change?
- Who do they turn to for advice or information?
- How do they make decisions? Who else is involved?
- Do they assign any values when they obtain the necessary results?
Unfortunately, this is a very large subject to go into detail and there are a lot of moving pieces to elaborate. However, if you are stuck or unsure, simply connect with me on LinkedIn and I would be happy to answer any questions you have.
Step 4: Suppress your inner self challenging creating personas!
While making personas, you may go into a whole new trouble of identifying, qualifying and connecting with people – investing time that you may not have. At some point, either your inner self, or someone else from your team may question the entire process, and you start wondering if all this trouble may produce something tangible to help your business go forward.
Well, It might seem like fluff, but details like this do serve an important purpose:
- First, creating personas will force you to go deeply into your audience shoes. You will start experiencing customers and prospects differently and you will begin to understand the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of your customers.
- Second, by going to all this trouble, you will unearth tactical opportunities for your product or business that you may never have paid attention to before. See these opportunities as a way to improve your customer’s lives. If you know what Jane cares about, and your product solves this what she cares about, then you just discovered ways to provide solution for Jane.
Putting it all together: Examples of marketing personas
As mentioned above, marketing personas will vary from company to company. There will, of course, be similarities that run throughout all personas. Hubspot, the online CRM company, has gotheres lots of amazing examples in one place where companies have shared one of their own marketing personas. Buyer Persona is also a platform where you can see examples and also create marketing personas.
Here are a few examples of persona sheets that are created via other companies:
Composely, a content writing firm:
A sample persona sheet from Xtensio:
Marketing personas will help you identify and connect with your ideal clients, enabling you to better solve their problems. When you solve your client’s problems, you are the go to person and no one can take that away from you – your competition is irrelevant.
One thing I haven’t mentioned so far, is that creating personas is, as everything with marketing, tough 🙂 So, if you have a team and co workers, make sure that they are on board and they get involved at every aspect of the creation process; each member team will bring a different perspective and different information to the table.
One you have your personas ready, its easier to communicate your marketing message and craft different elevator pitches for the sale, marketing and hiring teams.
Have you tried creating marketing personas? What elements of your persona template have been particularly helpful? I’d love to hear what’s worked for you in the past or what you’re excited to try for your next persona experiment. Make sure you connect with me on LinkedIn or post in the comments below.
– Sal Georgiou