Here is a quick guide to uncovering who your customers REALLY are, what they desire, and clear insight into how to speak their language.
Photo by @bwatuwant
Meet Claire Hobbs. She is 28 years old and a marketing manager at Mattel. Claire is married to Ray Hobbs who is a real estate attorney. They met in college and were together six years prior to getting married last year.
Claire is high-functioning and wakes up around 6:30am to attend a fitness class at least four times a week. Health and fitness are super important to her. She’s very particular about what she puts in her body and reads a lot of health and wellness blogs.
When it comes to her beauty routine, she is not brand loyal, however, skincare is more important to her than makeup. She has her favorites but will try new brands and/or products here and there through recommendations from her friends or influencers she trust. And if she feels particular products are superior to what she is already using, she will switch over. Price is not really a factor when it comes to buying beauty. She won’t spend $100 for a face cream, but she will pay for a quality cream that gives her the results she’s looking for. Claire prefers her products be sold on Amazon, as that is where she does the bulk of her shopping, but she takes advantage of offers from her favorite brands no matter where it is being sold.
Claire is mostly on Instagram and Facebook and typically hops on these platforms in the evenings, as she is too busy at work during the day. She also likes to Snapchat her adventures on the weekends.
You are probably wondering who the heck is Claire, and why am I learning about her? Claire is a fictional customer or buyer persona narrative for X skincare company. This will help X skincare company properly reach this type of customer at the right time, in the right place with the right content. Pretty cool, huh?
What is a persona?
Let’s define a buyer persona (also referred to as a marketing persona). According to Hubspot.com,
these are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. personas help us all -- in marketing, sales, product, and services -- to internalize the ideal customer we're trying to attract, and relate to our customers as real humans.
There are two types of personas. simple personas and robust personas. Simple personas include decision-making styles, buying stages and some basic segmentation. Robust personas get more into Myers-Briggs and psychographic profiles, market research, competitive analysis and detailed segmentation. Depending on the size and how complex your business is, will determine which type you should be creating.
Now, let’s identify the categories of personas. I promise this isn’t as complex as it seems.
- Competitive - These peeps tend to be business-like, power oriented and you need to provide them with options.
- Methodical - These guys are detail-oriented and like to become their own experts.
- Spontaneous - These folks are probably what you would expect: personal activity oriented, fast paced, and not very disciplined.
- Humanistic - This group tends to be deliberate and gets emotionally involved in things. They value transparency.
Now, you are probably thinking, “We all fall a little under each of the categories! How in the world can we use these types of personas in our targeting?” Well, each one of us is more dominate in only one of these personas. I tend to fall in either competitive or methodical when it comes to big purchases like a new sofa or finding the right dermatologist. But, when I am buying clothes, shoes or accessories I’m either spontaneous or humanistic. Depending on the type of beauty, fashion or lifestyle business, you most likely will find that you resonate with two or three personas.
Why are personas important?
You need to know your customers like you know your family. Just like you know that your uncle who drinks a little too much will say something inappropriate during Thanksgiving dinner. Or, like how you can predict that within 2.5 seconds of stepping foot in the door of your parents’ house, your mom will ask, “When will you and Tom be getting married?” You feel me?
personas help you to identify the needs, desires and behaviors of your customers, and to better target each persona along the sales funnel. And these should drive your goals and objectives when putting together your marketing strategy and campaigns.
Another great exercise to do with your personas is the Johari Window exercise, below. It will allow you to see what the company knows versus the customer and vice versa. Your goal for this exercise is to minimize blindness and expose the hidden to better reach your customers and build trust.
Another important factor to mention is that personas also help you identify customers you DO NOT want --also known as “negative personas.” Didn’t think about this one, did you? ;)
An example of a negative persona would be a first-year college student window shopping your fine jewelry ecom, but will never buy. Or according to Hubspot, could be “potential customers who are just too expensive to acquire (because of a low average sale price, their propensity to churn, or their unlikeliness to purchase again from your company).”
Benefits of personas
Here are just a few benefits you get for taking the time to create your buyer personas:
- Helps you segment and target your customers for content and paid ads
- Helps you personalize your messaging to different customer groups
- Learn who your new vs returning customers
- Learn about your Local vs international customers
- Know who your early bird vs lunchtime vs late night browsers
- Learn about those specifically searching for an item or product vs broad category
- Makes creating all marketing assets and your life a lot easier, providing clear direction to know whether you can use “slay” or not.
- Ultimately helps you achieve your business goals
- Help improve conversion
- Help improve customer acquisition and retention
How to start creating personas
This is where the fun begins. Where you can connect with your customer on a deeper level, get excited about data (which is rare, I know), and use your imagination to create fictional characters that will be the foundation of any and all marketing efforts.
The strongest personas are taken from market research as well as feedback from your customers through surveys (Go surveymonkey.com!), interviews (most important), Google Analytics and paid ad campaigns. Also, speak to your sales team and get feedback from their most responsive leads; It will help you make some generalizations about different categories of your customers. And don’t forget to tap your communities on social media.
Try sending out a survey to those who have purchased and those who have not (only email opt-in). For the last question in the survey, have a text box where respondents can input their phone numbers, and kindly ask if you can give them a call to get more information. Be sure to incentivize! Maybe offer a 30% off coupon code, or even better, something free!
Starting with two personas is a great start, and you can develop more later if needed. So, let’s say upon reviewing surveys and insights, you quickly figure out your two personas are humanistic and spontaneous. Now, it’s time to interview. Three to five interviews per persona is recommended.
One thing to mention is to be careful how you bucket your personas. You don’t want to stereotype or have biases, so be as objective as you can to get accurate insights.
Your interview questions should dive deep into how shoppers consume media, their buying habits, lifestyle, goals, challenges, etc. Get beyond the “what” and get to the “why” to reach the core of their purchasing decisions.
How to use these personas and interviews
Once you have compiled your data and feedback from your various sources, it’s time to create narratives from your interviews for both the humanistic and the spontaneous personas.
After you have created your narratives and really feel like you have a good grasp on your customer (better than ever before), the next exercise is to describe your business value in 3-minutes (about 75 words) for each persona.
Lastly, you want to consolidate and describe your business value in way that will satisfy both personas at once, in an 8-minute (50 words) elevator pitch.
Now you can use personas to create content, which is awesome because you are no longer pulling content ideas from the sky or copying your competitors. This gives you a chance to be both an innovator and a better problem solver. YAY!!
Remember that Johari Window exercise I mentioned earlier? This is where it comes in handy using your personas. If you do the following, you can generate three to six months worth of content.
- List 16 things from Johari you need to flesh out for customers to understand. (6 min)
- Restate these 16 things as problems, searches, etc. (9 min)
- List three bullet points that need to be answered for each of these 16 topics. (10 min)
- For each topic decide the POV, based on your personas, in which you will answer.
- HINT: What are the persona related questions to these topics? (25 min)
- Review your findings and plan out the types of content that need to be created/executed and how it will be distributed. Marketing copy and content should reach the extremes of personas. This is where copy can be most powerful.
Another thing to think about is the forms on your website. Be sure that when you run contests or ask for email sign-ups, you think of other questions you can ask that can capture important persona information. For example, if you own a hair salon and need to know which specialties you need more of from your stylists, you can request this info from clients in your booking form: balayage hair color, cuts or blowouts?
So, there you have it! personas in a nutshell. As you can see these are not hard at all. It’s not rocket science or some complicated formula to figure out. It is about taking the time out to get feedback from your customers and potential customers, organize the insights, and begin putting the pieces of the puzzle together to create content and marketing copy that will generate more leads than you have ever seen before.
Have questions or feedback? Slide in my comments!
Images from Market Motive/Brian Eisenberg and Hubspot