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How to Develop Effective Personas for Your Target Audience?

Promotions are expensive. A significant amount of advertising falls on stony ground – it ends up with people who are not relevant or who have no interest in our products and services. For this reason we need to focus on somebody when we communicate with our target audience rather than just anybody. And when we say “somebody” we really mean a person or a character who is a strong representation of our audience.

We call these "personas" and we need to build a picture of them before we launch our communications. A persona is a character with a personality and key characteristics which help us understand who we are talking to, designing a product for and doing business with. Persona creation nearly always focuses on the key buyer or main decision maker of a product or service

Creating different personas can have a number of benefits:

1. It gives us a better understanding of customers, allowing us to more effectively market to them.

2. It allows us to see if there are any personas we shouldn’t be selling to

3. It helps internal staff understand customers better

4. It helps us understand how different personas interact with us along the customer journey

5. It helps to guide decisions on the creation of new products and services

When creating a persona, it is important to think about and consider the following information:

· Demographics such as age, occupation and decision making responsibilities

What is the gender and age group of the persona? What is their level of seniority? What are their tastes - their likes and dislikes? This allows us to start to understand the characteristics of the person we are talking to.

· What is important to them when they are looking for suppliers?

What are the key attributes that drive their choice of supplier? Different personas might look for different qualities e.g. one might look for price, while another might look for one on one support.

· What are their needs?

What does our persona need to be able to succeed in their job and how can we support them with this? For example, our persona might need a supplier who has an easy ordering system so that they can quickly and efficiently get on with their job.

· What are their pain points?

Are there any areas where a supplier is not meeting our persona's needs? Are there any key challenges they are facing which we as their supplier can support them with?

· Which brands are they using?

Is our persona more likely to use any specific brands? Why are they likely to use these brands? How would our brand fit with their needs?

· How are they interacting with suppliers?

Does our persona prefer to be contacted digitally or would they prefer a face-to-face meeting? What do they want from the supply chain where they buy our product?

We should be mindful that there may well be a number of personas in our sights. Business to business buying decisions seldom involve just one person. This means we need to develop a number of personas and ensure that our promotional campaigns resonate with each one. We will want to use words and images that ensure the different values we express in the communications resonate with the targets - such as people in procurement, or those who have a technical or influential role.

The point of developing personas is to bring customers to life. Why not take a step further and take a leaf out of Molson Coors book? When the marketing team at Molson Coors have a discussion about their customers they bring in a large cardboard cutout of promoter Pat. Pat stands there in the meeting and from time to time someone will say “What do you think Pat?”. It has a serious point. It keeps the team absolutely focused, where it should be, on the customers they are talking about.


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