Why personas matter: The essential qualities for effective analysis

– Jun 3, 2023
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Personas serve as an invaluable marketing tool to gain a deeper understanding of your audience and their needs. Many companies spend a large amount of time and money going down the rabbit hole to form incredibly detailed personas. They include characteristics of name, age, hobbies, geographical location and more.

We believe this level of depth isn’t always necessary as it can be time-consuming and expensive for a company to action. For a persona to be considered useful, it must have an impact on sales and improve targeting of an audience segment, but perhaps it doesn’t need to be as comprehensive as the ones we often encounter. So, we’re sharing our thoughts on the key attributes of a useful persona to guide you through a simpler and more cost-effective process of how to create one.

What is a useful persona?

There are three key attributes that a useful persona needs:

1. Who are the target markets?

To identify your ideal target market, most of the time you can look into positional roles (CEO, CFO, HR Director, Sales Director, Marketing Director) or functions within a business. The role should correlate with the type of product or service you’re selling.

For example, when selling HR technology, the key stakeholder is likely to be the HR Director. If you’re selling CRM software, like Salesforce, the CEO, Head of Sales, Head of Marketing, and Head of Customer Experience will likely have shared interests as key stakeholders.

2. What are their goals?

Different roles have different goals. A Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is interested in finance. They’ll consider business costs, budgets, and return on investment. Whereas a Sales Director is typically interested in revenue. They’ll consider the best systems for their team to measure and manage revenue.

When goals are clearly understood, you’ll have a clear insight into the best features and benefits to pitch. So, you’ll safely avoid a conversation with the CFO about the user experience of a particular system because, deep down, you know the CFO really cares about how much that system will cost.

3. What are the barriers to achieving these goals?

The next step, and perhaps the deepest layer of detail when forming a persona, is identifying the main barrier to achieving the goal. When you’re familiar with the barrier preventing a customer from moving forward, you can implement remedies into your campaign and messaging.

For example, let’s assume you have a Sales Director who wants their team to use the best system with leading automation and integrations with other systems. The barrier to achieving this goal may involve a team of salespeople who inherently don’t agree with change. They’re creatures of habit who resist any effort to implement a robust sales process that controls more of what they do. Knowing this information puts you in a position to form strong, solution-backed campaigns and messaging for your customer.

Who should develop personas?

Ideally, the sales and marketing teams should work together to develop personas. This will ensure that personas align with the defined sales processes and are detailed enough to be targeted with relevant campaigns through the right marketing channels.

How technology can help create personas

Rather than researching and pulling data from generic sources that are not company-specific, CRMs like Salesforce can help persona creation in the following ways:

Data can be pulled from CRMs to support persona creation

Gathering data from the sales process provides insight into the customer journey. This data can determine which customers are being sold to and which customers are the most profitable. Then, it’s a simple process of working backwards to create personas.

Use your CRM for mining lost opportunities

Seek out segments where you aren’t closing or hitting the mark, then try to accommodate by creating personas that match those segments.

If you don’t have a CRM capturing information about people in the first place, you’re missing an opportunity to gather useful data. Sales and marketing should work together to develop a process that ensures the right persona data is being captured against sales opportunities from the beginning.

What are the benefits of creating personas?

Once personas are established, a business can benefit from data that:

  • Helps to identify who to target and provides information on how to target them successfully.
  • Provides a clearer understanding of the benefits and features to pitch to your target market to meet their needs and goals and overcome barriers to purchase.
  • Prevents generic blanket messaging be enabling a targeted sales and marketing customer journey, including persona-specific messaging, sales pitches, automation and advertising.

For example, if a business selling a diploma is targeting a school leaver, they know there are certain elements a school leaver is likely to be interested in based on their persona. This includes the on-site campus experience, awesome facilities, local pubs, clubs and bars around campus, and the cool, young lecturers who guarantee a hands-on experience.

If this same business is promoting a diploma to a middle-aged mother with plans to return to the workforce, the marketing conversation will sound very different. This target market is likely to be interested in work-life balance, including the flexibility to study online and attend campus for practical work only. This persona‘s priorities are to schedule study 12 months in advance to plan childcare support and schooling. There is little interest in nearby pubs, restaurants, and clubs because this persona’s daily priorities are very different.

How often should personas be revised?

When persona creation is executed well, they only need to be revised every 1-2 years. If left longer than two years, personas will risk outdating. Of course, if your service or product offering changes, then you should review your personas to ensure your marketing targeting is still relevant.

At Fluent Group, we’re here to help. Contact us for help in creating or revising useful personas that have your business goals in mind.

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