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How to Sharpen Your Marketing Message by Creating Personas

how_to_create_personas

We see and hear as many as 5,000 marketing and advertisement messages a day. From what we read in magazines to what we hear on the radio, we are bombarded with advertisements. But how many of those do you think we pay attention to? Probably very few. We’re so overwhelmed with marketing messages we tune most of them out. 

How Personas Get Your Message Heard

Unfortunately, the large majority of your marketing messages get tuned out too.

To cut through this message clutter and reach your prospective customers, you need to create marketing personas. "Personas" may sound odd if you’ve never heard about them, but they're easy and fun to create.

A persona is a thorough and detailed description of your ideal buyer or customer. Personas tell the story of your customers' behaviors, needs, and concerns. They help you understand your prospects better so you can speak to them clearly and directly in your advertising messages.

dilbert_on_marketing_personas.gif Source: Dilbert.com

While creating personas might seem like an unnecessary step, the work is invaluable. Without them, your marketing messages will be less effective at cutting through the clutter, and less effective means fewer new members at a higher cost to acquire them.

So now that you know why you need personas, you’re probably starting to wonder how to create them. Well, just read on.

Steps For Creating Personas 

Do Research: Your goal is to thoroughly understand your prospective customers. To do this, you need to do some research. You can conduct interviews with your customers, send surveys to your community, or talk to people in your network. 

Go into the research process methodically and with an open mind. It’s easy to think you know your people, but you’ll be a bit surprised with what else you can learn. You should also start with a set of basic questions or a template for what you want to find out. But be sure to ask open-ended questions to generate conversations.

Here are some common things you’ll want to find out:

  • Personal details like age, gender, goals, motivation, challenges, education, spouses/children
  • Professional or career background, skills needed for their work, approximate household income (if willing to share)
  • Where and how they like to find information (ex: social media, books, magazines, the news, etc.)
  • Where and how they like to shop, and where they buy nutrition items and supplements
  • Things specific to your business (ex: what programs they like, how far would they drive to get to you, ideal hours of operation, etc.)
  • Why (and how) they were attracted to your business. 


Identify the Traits of Your Ideal Customer: 
Now you’ll need to take the information you collected and start to make sense of it. You’ll want to look for patterns and common characteristics to tell the story, or stories, of your prospects and members.

For instance, do you have a customer base that’s mostly female and professionally-minded? Or is your community young men who are family-focused? Try to find the commonalities in the stories you’ve collected. It’s normal to have a couple of different stories emerge, and you can have as many personas as you need to account for the generalities in your community.

Document Your Persona(s): Here’s where you can be creative. There’s no right way to document your personas. You can use poster board, PowerPoint, a whiteboard, or any other medium that captures the nuances of your personas. Some people like to name their personas so they are easy to remember, and assigning an image to your persona is also helpful. You will want to keep and use your personas for the foreseeable future, so be sure they will be savable.

After you’ve created your personas, share them with your team. Ask for their feedback on what you’ve created. Your team will have ideas to help you refine your personas. 

Using Your Personas to Reach Prospects

Now it’s time to be heard above all the marketing noise, or cut through it with a well-sharpened knife, if you will. You can use your personas to create targeted advertisements and marketing messages, using words and ideas that will resonate with your ideal prospect. For instance, let’s use the examples we gave above. 

An advertisement for working professional females building their career will differ significantly from an advertisement for ex-corporate, entrepreneurial males.  Not only will the words you’d want to use be different, but the colors, images, and the main point of your message will be as well. Your personas will also give you insight for promotions and seasonal attendance drivers, as well as clarity on where to post your advertisements. 

Another thing that makes personas helpful is the ability to address a person's reasons for wanting your product, or conversely, not wanting your product. If you speak to these issues in your marketing messages, they will be compelling and powerful.

Personas Are a Powerful (And Necessary) Tool

Personas must be a part of your marketing strategy, and they're essential for building a strong brand. They will make your marketing messages targeted, specific, and effective for your intended audience. Although they take a little time to create, they are invaluable and will help you grow your business. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Rougeux

John is co-founder and CMO at Causely. When he's not trying to build the most philanthropic company in the world, he's probably hanging out with his wife and three daughters in Lexington, KY. You can also find John on Twitter and LinkedIn.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matthew Watson

Matt is Customer Success Manager at Causely, where he does everything in his power to help our customers succeed. He loves sports, his wife, his dog, and the great outdoors, but not in that order. He may love his dog more than sports. You can find Matt on Facebook and Twitter.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Werner

Sarah is a writer, marketer, and brand specialist. She has experience in both non-profit marketing and financial development as well as for-profit content marketing and social media. She holds degrees in English and Art from Asbury University. When she’s not writing content for Causely, you’ll find her outside with a book or camera enjoying the company of trees. You can also find Sarah on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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