The dos and don’ts of creating marketing personas

Trying to discover the most effective ways to market to your customers isn’t easy. Where do your audience spend time? What medium would they respond to best?

Creating marketing personas will help you to become more informed about the interests, challenges and motivations of your target audience. This will help you to refine your marketing efforts and avoid wasting time on campaigns that won’t work.

What is a marketing persona?

A marketing persona (also known as a buyer persona) is a representation of your most likely customer, based on market research and talking to customers. They reveal characteristics and interests that they may have in common. 

For example, imagine a startup is creating an app focused on cutting food waste from family homes. Through market research and customer interviews, the company knows that their app idea is popular with young parents who don’t have much time to cook and often rely on takeaways. These parents tend to be between 26-40 years old and keen to reduce their environmental impact.

From there, the company might create a marketing persona like “Dominic Dad”.

Why are marketing personas needed?

Marketing personas force you to get to the root of what motivates your customers and what keeps them up at night. Once you understand this, you’ll be able to create marketing campaigns that are better targeted and connect with customers’ real-life needs.

The best way to build a marketing persona is to collect information directly from your customers. This can be conducted via surveys, interviews and through the analysis of your audience data, such as what posts perform well on social media. 

It’s important not to confuse building marketing personas with learning the basics of your target demographic. A persona requires much more specificity, so including qualitative information is crucial.

For example, find out your customers’ hobbies and their motivations for doing them – and think about how they relate to your product. If they play tennis, do they do so for social or health reasons? If they like shopping, do they prefer high-end, budget or second-hand items?

Steps to creating a marketing persona

The first step in forming a marketing persona is to create an initial template of all the information you want to collect. You can start to fill in these gaps with data you already have. Don’t feel restricted by this template – continue to add and expand depending on your findings.

Check your website data and email platform for relevant customer information. This lets you see what type of person is likely to purchase from your business. For example, data can give you insight into a customer’s location, age or gender. You can also see where customers are most likely to engage with your marketing, allowing you to identify which social media platform is best to target.

Interview your customers to see why they enjoy your product. This will allow you to collect other important persona information, like their career prospects and the general challenges they face. Offering customers incentives to complete surveys or interviews can increase the chances of them taking part – this could be a free gift or discount.

From here, see what generalisations can be inferred about the customer. For example, if you know one type of customer is a university student, you could infer that they enjoy socialising, have limited finances and avidly use Twitter and Instagram. With this information, you can begin to build your own marketing personas and change the ways in which you market your product.

The dos and don’ts of creating personas

To make this process slightly easier, we’ve compiled a list of the dos and don’ts.

Don’t create too many personas 

Not only will this cause you to lose focus when marketing to a specific audience, but it will make updating your personas much more of a challenge. Make sure you aren’t creating a new persona with each new characteristic you discover. Instead, see how these characteristics fit with your current personas. 

Do communicate with your customers

Be wary of creating your personas based on assumptions about your target audience. As mentioned, there are some assumptions that can be inferred, like students having less disposable income. However, it’s important to communicate with customers and back up your personas with data and research.

Do make sure there’s enough detail

When building a persona, consider how your customer will complete their buyer journey. By understanding their motivations for buying your product, you’ll understand how to market to them.

Here are some points to consider:

  • Responsibilities (are they a parent?)
  • Preferred social media platforms
  • Goals and challenges 
  • Hobbies and interests (for example, certain TV shows or travelling)
  • Their key focus when shopping (do they look for the lowest price?)

Don’t let your personas become outdated

Customers’ interests, challenges and motivations change often. Allowing the personas to stagnate can lead to ineffective marketing strategies. To avoid this, review buyer personas regularly to make sure you’re working from the most relevant customer insights.

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Holly Sawyer
Holly is the Marketing Manager at Inkwell, the company behind The Pitch.

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