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A business model for improving the focus of marketing messages

In the 1990s advertising agencies started to talk about “a day in the life of your customer”. In doing so they created fictional characters which represented the customer segments they were targeting. Advertising agencies are still the major users of personas today.

A persona is a character. It is a description of somebody, not just anybody. It is the image, the face and personality of a (made up) person. If you can characterise a persona within a group of customers, it becomes easier to target them. Persona development is important in advertising to give a focus to promotions. With the persona in mind you know who you are talking to, who you are designing for and who you want to do business with.  You can develop personas for different decision makers and influencers. For example, it may be helpful to build a persona of someone who is an influencer rather than a customer or even a “negative” persona – someone you want excluding from targeted communications.

Developing personas requires a qualitative and creative approach. Insights on the personas can be obtained from many sources – sales teams, market research reports, the internet, LinkedIn etc.


Decide which personas you want to develop. It could be the key decision maker within the decision-making unit, a lost customer, a promoter, a detractor, a potential customer etc. Use a profile such as the one for "Promoter Paul" to build a picture of your persona. Include intelligence or biographical details that will be helpful in making marketing communications most effective.

Promoter Paul.JPG

When developing persona, make it personal. Give the person a name. Imagine what sort of person it is – their age, where they live, their family background, their aspirations at work, the type of car they drive etc. This person should be as close as possible to the bull’s eye in the range of people you target.

Once the persona has been developed, the real work begins of developing the communication messages. The persona will show:

  • Messages and images that grab attention.

  • Messages that resonate and mean something.

  • Words that indicate you speak the same language.

  • Compelling arguments that make someone want to do business with you.

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