A few years ago, before Kale added sour cream to its products, I was looking for sour cream. I asked several supermarkets and none of them not only had sour cream, they didn’t even know what sour cream was. I still remember the answer of one of the sellers. In answer to my question, he said with a look: Do we have sour cream? Creams are sweet, lady!
Still, Kale offers this product and some of its other products in a very limited way and in supermarkets of some regions and some restaurants and coffee shops. But why? Because he knows the customers of this product very well. Every product or service is exactly the same. Every product or service has its customers.
Sites, applications, digital goods and services are no exception to this rule. Not all sites or applications are designed for all age, gender, occupation and education groups, in fact all people. For example, you have an advertising agency. Your business is digital marketing, which is very specialized for small businesses and startups. Your potential customer group is defined and you know them, their characteristics, their needs and their challenges very well.
If you have a website that introduces applications, products and digital and online services related to the field of mental health, you still cannot expect that everyone will be the audience for your content. Those who have specific questions, needs and problems and are looking for their answers are the main audience of your website. The fact that a business knows exactly for whom it produces a product means that that business knows to whom it should sell its product.
So the wisest thing for that business or startup to do is to primarily advertise to that group to get the message that “I’m in the market too and I have a product for you!” Wasting resources on advertising that does not benefit the business and does not attract customers, especially for startups that need growth hacking, is a matter of life and death for that business. What prevents businesses from wasting resources on advertising is the marketing strategy.
Among marketing strategies, Persona Marketing (Persona-based Marketing) is the main pillar and foundation of all advertising and digital marketing activities of businesses. What makes this strategy so important? What is persona marketing anyway? And what does persona mean? This article has tried to give correct, accurate and clear answers to these questions and several other related questions.
Table of Contents
What is persona marketing or persona-based marketing?
Two types of marketing strategies are opposed to each other in digital marketing: Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing. In inbound marketing, the business puts itself in front of the user’s eyes and directs (pulls) him into its website. In inbound marketing, content has a special place. Several different methods (strategies) may be used to organize content and other activities in this marketing. Two of the most important of them are Product-led Marketing & Persona-based Marketing. In the first one, the focus is on the product and introducing it and its features and technologies, and in the second one, the focus is on the customer and his needs, features and problems.
Persona marketing starts with these questions:
- For whom am I designing this product (service, product, and website) with what characteristics (physical, financial, social, geographical, and cultural)?
- Why should he buy my product or visit my website?
- How does he think and live?
- What factors or people influence his decisions?
- What are his tendencies and preferences?
- Exactly what problem or problems (Pain Points) does my product solve for consumers with similar goods and services?
- My product is the answer to which of his needs in life or market?
Based on the answers to these questions, a picture is formed of those who may be customers/buyers/addressees of your product, those who have common features, characteristics, needs and problems. This image is the persona of your business buyer/addressee. The person for whom the product should be designed, advertised, and content written.
All product design and marketing activities should be adjusted and directed according to this image (persona). For example, the buyer personas of that advertising agency, which we talked about in the introduction of this article, are fledgling startups with a certain number of employees and a limited budget.
What are marketing personas?
In persona marketing, in addition to the persona of the buyer, other personas should also be considered. Although the buyer persona is central, other people are also effective on the buyer’s decision and, as a result, on the process and result of marketing and advertising. In general, personas can be divided and defined as follows:
- Lead Persona (initial persona or guide): the initial image that is drawn during product design and before deep and extensive research of the potential buyer of the product. This persona is very general.
For example, the primary personas of that website introducing online psychology and psychotherapy services are those who have problems or questions and for any reason (financial or time constraints or fear) cannot or do not want to refer to a psychotherapist.
Details such as age, gender, living area, income, education, marital status, etc. are not included in this persona.
- Buyer/Customer Persona: Semi-fictional, complete and accurate picture of the ideal buyer/customer group for your business and product. Those who will definitely buy from you and remain loyal to you.
In this type of persona, details play a very important role. This persona should be as close to reality as possible. This persona represents a group of buyers in the market who will likely become customers of your business 95% of the time.
According to Ardath Albee, a famous marketing strategist, the buyer/customer persona is defined as:
A marketing persona is a composite plan of a major part of your audience (market).
- Anti-persona or Negative Persona: The image of those who will most likely never buy your product. They are not your customers, for various reasons. Therefore, they are not the ones you are advertising to.
For example, when your buyer personas are startups with specific characteristics, brands like Mercedes-Benz or Amazon will not come to you for digital marketing. You are not looking for them either. So they are the negative persona of your business.
- Detractor Persona: This persona is a detractor. A representative of someone who might dissuade your buyer persona from buying for a thousand reasons or encourage them to buy something from your competitor.
For example, some examples of opposing personas for that website introducing online psychology and psychotherapy services might be:
Those who believe that psychologists themselves have mental problems and cannot be trusted;
Or those who basically consider reading psychology books to be pointless and useless and have an alternative such as doing yoga for depression and solving mental and emotional problems.
- Influencer Persona: We are in the era of influencers. Those who use different platforms to influence people’s decisions.
It is not necessary for these people to have an Instagram account and advertise for you or your competitor. Do you remember how long ago Ronaldo did to Coca-Cola by moving the Coca-Cola bottle in that press conference??
For this reason, knowing the persona of influencers in any field (for example, soccer stars like Ronaldo and Messi) complements other personas in your business marketing strategies.
What is the benefit of personas in digital marketing?
If we pay close attention to the above definitions and the examples we mentioned, the importance and benefit of designing personas for any business becomes clear and clear.
Whether you have a B2B or B2C business, knowing more and better your customers/buyers and the various factors influencing their choices and decisions means guaranteeing your profit in this competitive market.
The design of personas gives direction to all business activities from the very beginning, from product design to digital marketing and content creation to saving costs and management decisions and adapting and moving forward with the market to organizing after-sales services and training human resources.
When the buyer/audience persona is well designed, every ad is designed based on that specific audience and every content is targeted and written to attract the attention of that persona.
When the anti-persona is well known, there is no waste of time and money in email marketing and SMS marketing to advertise to someone who has no interest or need for your product.
When the opposing persona is well known, the product design team and the marketing team know how to equip themselves against the opposing claims and what responses to have ready.
When a business identifies influencers in its niche, the digital marketing team knows exactly who to reach out to.
Of course, the importance and role of each of the mentioned personas may be slightly different based on the type of business, product and market of that product.
For example, when your business customers are real people and not an intermediary or other business, the right design of buyer/audience personas is a priority for you.
How to design marketing personas?
We have said so much about the importance of personas, but how to find and design them. The answer can be given in two very brief and useful words: research (quantitative and qualitative) and interview.
No persona can be designed without knowing the real customers and those who interact with your business. The starting point for designing any persona is research and collecting quantitative and qualitative data.
There are different methods for research and data collection and analysis. There are also user recognition software and programs that do some of this research and analysis for businesses.
But usually, the design of these personas begins with the collection and analysis of quantitative data (site visitor statistics or sales statistics). In fact, the starting point is to get to know the current customers more and more deeply, find their common points and characteristics and categorize them. The next step is to collect qualitative data (interests, needs, problems, goals in life, challenges and expectations, etc.) about each category. It is at this stage that the interview plays a key role. You should get to know that customer closely and communicate with him.
Of course, online question and answer forms, surveys and user comments on the website and social networks should not be ignored either. After collecting all this data and analyzing it, we design the personas. In the last step, which is a very, very important step, we need to share the personas with all the teams and people working in that business.
An example for each persona
Business: Introduction site for psychology and psychotherapy services (a site for the supply of psychology books as well as the introduction and recognition of psychologists and psychotherapists, which receives an amount from publishers and psychologists for increasing book sales or increasing clients.)
Persona of the audience/customer/buyer/reviewer: married working women with children living in big cities who have problems with their children or husbands.
(After researching and collecting website visit statistics and reviewing user comments, it was found that most of those who became buyers or visitors after reading the introductions and contents were women.)
Anti-persona: children, teenagers, elderly, working men and housewives.
Influencer persona: married female actors and athletes with children who are preferably also active in virtual networks.
(An example was already mentioned for the primary and opposite persona of this business.)