McKim provided several definitions of personas for the audience. “Fake real people” was my favorite. Buyer profiles are based on information gleaned from third-party sources. Audience personas use this information, but also go a step further by gathering buyer insights from conversations with your target audience, along with internal and external influencers. Personas truly help you get to know your audience. They represent a person you are actually marketing to rather than just general information.
“People buy from people they like. People like businesses they feel they can trust.” –Quinn Tempest
Consumers trust businesses that educate them. Personas can help you answer questions and educate your audience, because you know them on a deeper level.
- Clear understanding of your audience
- Consistency – personas guide your marketing messages
- Marketing ammunition – back up your strategies and tactics from persona research.
Now that we know what a persona is and why they are important, time to figure out how to build them correctly. First, find your persona builder. This person should be really great at interviewing. Then, start building!
4 steps to building audience personas:
- Identify and hone your segments – how many audiences do you have? Ideally, you should have a handful of personas.
- Gather the best data – who should you talk to? Internal teams including: sales, customer support, marketing, and others with key knowledge or direct contact with your customers. 3rd-party sources including: Pew Research or other trustworthy researchers and companies. Most importantly, your audience! Talk to about eight from each segment if possible.
- Ask the right questions – things to know about your audience: demographics, job function and responsibilities, what a typical day looks like, goals, challenges, motivations, what success looks like, alarm clock test (when they wake up in the morning, what’s the first thing they think about?), who influences them, where they find their information (blogs, podcasts, magazines, other media), their perceptions of your company and your competitors.
- Create persona document – comb through all of your interviews, sales data and any other important information. Look for data that is similar – those are the nuggets that will build your personas. Keep the document to one page and make it useful.
Here are some examples of personas that McKim shared:
Do a marketing communications audit. Make sure your strategies and tactics align with your personas and how customers digest information. As you go forward, make sure your messaging coordinates with your personas. Understand the buyer’s journey for each persona. Use them to determine which channels you should be using or quit using.
Finally, make sure to have your personas out and available for reference often. Stick it on your bulletin board so it’s always top of mind while you’re creating content for your audience.