What Are Personas and How Do They Fit in the Customer Journey?
What Are Personas?
Before answering that question, we must ask another one. Why do some marketing messages fall flat while others break through and make an impact that leads to new sales opportunities?
The Answer is Customer Personas.
Customer personas, or simply personas, are a critical part of the customer journey. In this post, we show you what personas are by introducing you to one of ours.
As the CEO of a financial institution, she shoulders the responsibility of the current and future success of the organization, its customers and employees. With customer service, IT, marketing, legal and human resources on her radar constantly, to say she’s busy is an understatement.
Cindy’s day starts early and runs fast.
Any time not booked with meetings is usually filled with announcements and speeches. At least three of Cindy’s lunches each week are working ones. Her email inbox is a mess, but her assistant keeps her focus pointed like a laser on large projects and initiatives critical to the company’s success.
She reports to the Board and has several directors that report to her. Chief among her priorities are:
- Building and maintaining a successful leadership team.
- Meeting and surpassing revenue and membership goals.
- Keeping the company progressive with the latest technology, customer care and identity theft/fraud prevention tools.
Cindy’s biggest pain points are staying out of details and on budget.
When this University of Nebraska-Lincoln grad is not in meetings or making presentations, she keeps herself up to date on her industry and community by attending conferences and networking events, as well as reading industry and national publications. While she is not active on social media, she does read the local paper a few times a week. In addition to her team, Cindy relies on word-of-mouth recommendations from colleagues she trusts.
If her competitors have something, she wants to know about it.
All of that information is enough to get to know Cindy as a professional, but not a person. Cindy juggles the daily demands of work and nurturing her children — one is a graduating high school senior and the other a new professional. While she doesn’t spend a ton of time in her modern townhome, she does enjoy planning family vacations, especially to their lake home. She makes fitness a personal priority and recently joined an upscale gym to pursue her personal goals.
So, What Are Personas?
Hopefully, now that you’ve met Cindy, you know the answer, but do you know how to use personas or why you should?
How and Why You Need to Use Customer Personas
After asking what are personas, the next logical question to ask is how to use them.
As we mentioned earlier, Cindy is one of our customer personas. We have several, all of which are designed to guide our content marketing efforts. We use personas to shorten the buyer’s journey and identify customers that fit into our sweet spot of services and capabilities. Cindy isn’t a real person (which you probably figured out by now).
She is a representation of one of our target audiences that we created based on research and interviews.
We use our customer personas to speak most effectively to our ideal clients. That includes understanding their pain points and keeping them top of mind when we write blog posts, emails, white papers, presentations and other types of content.
We use them to understand why our customers search for new solutions and how to provide timely, relevant information to help them through that process.
How to Create Your Own Personas
Having answered the question of what are personas, it’s time to start creating one.
Creating customer personas for your brand is an early step in taking your brand through the inbound marketing process and it’s critical for long-term success. Making personas takes time, but isn’t rocket science. You can start now by asking questions like the following about your brand’s ideal audiences:
- What is the typical job title of this person?
- Their demographics?
- What is a day in his or her life like?
- Where does he/she go for information?
- What are his/her pain points?
- What are his/her most common objections?
- How much ROI does this customer need to justify a purchase?
You can easily gain answers to some of these questions from your sales team. Other answers can come from doing research on your customers or if you don’t have that, research on the industry your customers occupy.
If you’re at a loss as to where to begin your research, start on social media.
Channels like LinkedIn and Facebook can provide a window into your ideal customers’ professional and personal interests. Use groups and profiles to determine which publications and other sources professionals turn to in order to stay up to date on industry happenings.
The point is to make sure you know to whom you are marketing. Armed with accurate knowledge of your audience, you will find your marketing efforts are more successful because you will be one giant step closer to sending the right messages to the right people at the right time.