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What is a Marketing Persona?

A marketing persona (also called buyer’s persona) is a developed, research-based representation of a target audience and their purchasing habits and motivations. This behavior might include an audience's goals, how they think and what drives them to choose one brand over another.


Take this example of a marketing persona:


Mark needs a new car that will suit his family’s needs as his kids grow and become more involved in competitive sports. He is influenced by his social circle and online reviews, wants a car that’s good on gas, spacious and has smart features.


From this persona, we know how Mark spends his free time, what he is looking for in a car and how he’s influenced. Personas are developed from real data offered by real customers to help business owners understand and relate to their buyer. This will lead to a well positioned marketing message and will help companies acquire and serve their customers.


A marketing persona is more than just a stereotype or a customer profile. The goal is to develop a deeper understanding of who belongs to your target audience. This will lead to insight into their behavior and actions that relates to your product.



Factors of a Persona

Each customer varies just a bit and many businesses service many different types of general customers. To understand how a persona can help you relate to and target your audience, we need to look at representation and segments.


Representation

A persona should reflect the majority of your audience, as opposed to one specific person.

For most businesses, their sales will come from a certain archetype.


For example, Aritizia, a women's clothing brand, taps into the female teenage market for a large percentage of its sales. Their marketing persona and message revolves around attracting and acquiring people from that audience.


It is important to identify the kind of customer your business attracts. Using an outlier customer to tailor your persona will need to marketing messages that alienates the majority of your audience.


Segmentation

Most businesses are robust enough that they appeal to many different audiences. These different audiences are called segments. Segments are broken up based on differentiating and unique factors that only that group possesses. Creating a persona for each segment leads to a multifaceted marketing approach and a deeper understanding of your different audiences.


Audiences can be segmented based on their gender, where they live or level of income. The important thing to remember is that there needs to be enough differentiation between the different audience for segmentation to work.


For example, Starbucks serves a wide audience from teenagers to retirees. They may develop different personas for on-the-go businesswomen and retirees who enjoy view Starbucks as a place to socialize and meet up with friends. The distinction in their demographics and buying behaviors allows for different personas.



How to build a persona?

Creating a persona involves collecting and analyzing information to develop a deeper understanding of your customers and what drives them to use your products.

The information, both qualitative and quantitative will help you develop insights to build a persona and ultimately a marketing plan to acquire likeminded customers.


Information Gathering and Analysis

Information gathering can be done through many mechanisms. A customer database is a great start and an efficient way to identify relevant information for your persona. This could include gender, average amount spent per customer and the inventory they are purchasing frequently.


Other information sources include market research reports of about your product and industry and interviewing customers.


Interviewing customers is a great way to acquire qualitative and behavioral information that could be absent in quantitative databases. This includes motivations for purchasing, learning about how they use your product and what influences their purchases.


The goal is to identify trends in the data to build the persona. These trends will allow your company to build a persona that captures the majority of your audience and leads to better targeted marketing.



Faith is a mock persona for a shoe company whose audience is female college aged shoe shoppers. From a mix a qualitative and quantitative analysis, the company was able to identify the age of most of their shoppers, motivations for their purchases, their sensitivity to price points and influences in their life.


This persona will help them craft a plan to target Faith and understand who has input into the purchasing decision and why a shoe is purchased.


Importance of a Persona

Personas compose the foundation of a solid marketing plan. Gathering accurate information and drawing the right conclusions about your audience will lead to tailored messaging and ultimately acquiring and servicing your audience.


The goal of a persona is to develop a deeper understanding of who you are trying to capture and view your product offering from their perspective. When done properly, the persona can act as a road map – leading to better messaging and ultimately, materializing as sales down the road.

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