One effective method marketers use to strategize is building buyer personas. To build a buyer persona, you take the idea of “target market” and flip it on its head. Instead of thinking about your audience in generalities, you think about a specific PERSON. You just make them up! Loosely defined, a buyer persona is an archetypal representation of an individual potential buyer.
Give the persona a fake name and define their rough demographics, including things like disposable income, viewing habits, favorite apps, favorite brands, maybe what music they like, etc., etc. We like to put an actual picture of someone who could look like the persona…maybe the types of jobs they’d work at, or companies they’d want to work for. This naturally flows into the messages they like to hear, the channels they would likely populate, and therein lies the value of personas. This discipline helps you think about a HUMAN, and what they need — instead of just DATA to be analyzed.
At a previous company, we had a client so dedicated to their three core buyer personas, they designed physical offices for the pretend individuals in their marketing department! Marketing team members would go and sit in those personas’ fake offices to get inspiration for how to communicate with them. That’s commitment!
If you haven’t thought about your buyer personas — try it. It humanizes your “target market” and brings clarity.
Every organization likely talks to multiple personas — two to four is about right. Many more and you should combine them. For lots of non-profits, it’s sometimes 1) donors and 2) users/participants/
In a world of finite resources, the difficulty comes in prioritizing. You likely don’t have the budget and resources to blanket all of them fully. And what we’ve found is there is always a driver persona. There’s one persona that creates the most leverage amongst the others. In the above example, we found that the “parents” persona was the first domino — students and educators were secondary and contingent on our ability to communicate with parents.
WHAT PERSONA IS YOUR DRIVER?
Here are a few quick ways to determine which of your personas is the one of highest leverage.
1) Map out the relationships- Take your personas and do a chart showing each as the primary at the top. If this one is primary, what channels and strategies are used? How would you have to allocate budget and media spend? If you follow this path, what is the impact?
2) Pick one- If you could talk to just one, which one would it be? Put a simple outline together of a skeletal marketing plan as if you could only communicate with one persona. Which of these singular plans provides the most impact?
3) Get your data- If you have any internal metrics, you can likely identify segments of highest ROI based on 1) cost of acquisition and 2) lifetime value of client/donor. And sometimes, your driver persona is quite easy to identify!
4) Find your personas in real life- Chances are you actually know a real human who matches the personas you’ve defined. Try out your message on your personas and listen with open ears to the responses.