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What are Marketing Personas?

11.29.2016 / Posted in Strategy

Personas are composite creations—aggregates designed to approximate the predominant archetypes of people in a target group. As with every aggregate, there are outliers in each group that will not fit within the group’s persona.

Say what?

When to Create a Persona

Developing personas makes sense when you are analyzing the research of a population or group and discover that there is more than one subgroup within the research pool.

For example, FrogDog needed to market a client’s product to small, independent dental practices. To effectively convince the practices to switch venders for this type of product, our research found that we needed to engage with each practice’s office manager and its dentists. Unless these two audiences bought in, they would not make the switch.

Office managers, who run the business side of a dental practice, and dentists, who run the clinical side of a practice, have very different responsibilities and, therefore, very different areas of interest and focus. In this case, creating personas to help us capture a shorthand visualization of each target audience helped us design a marketing approach.

Personas have value beyond just product marketing, however. FrogDog recently wrapped a project assessing the employee population of a company with four hundred staff members across three offices with a variety of job titles. You can bet that this broad an audience had a variety of archetypes—and, therefore, personas. Developing personas for this group helped FrogDog and the client company design engagement activities and benefit packages that addressed each of the predominant employee types.

What’s in a Persona?

Personas can include the average demographics of the aggregate—age, income level, education level, and so forth—but not always. Personas can even include a photo and a name to help the company quickly reference and visualize the archetype the persona embodies (it is far easier for a team to call “Bill” to mind than it is for the team to conjure “Persona C”).

You can go into granular detail, but your persona might get too complex if you do. Aim to include only the details your persona needs to help you plan. For example, income level matters in some situations more than others, as does education level and the number of people in the persona’s household.

For example, for the employee-engagement research project mentioned earlier in this article, we didn’t feel that salary level or household income mattered much to the research objectives. The company’s goal was to better understand its employee population so that it could develop benefits and engagement programs to increase satisfaction and retention. Yet, for product marketing, income level can matter significantly.

How to Use a Persona

Use your personas to represent your distinct target audiences. Doing so will help you understand the viewpoints and lifestyles of your key stakeholders so that you can keep their interests and perspectives in mind when developing messages, activities, products and services, and more. Personas have many important uses in marketing, customer relations, employee relations, product and service development, and overall business strategy and planning.

When you ensure you develop messages, materials, and activities tailored to each persona, you help to ensure you cover all your important bases.

Need Persona Help?

Need help with target audience research? After all, you can’t market if you don’t know who you’re marketing to. FrogDog to the rescue!

 

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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