I don’t think I’m being dramatic when I say that successful marketing is one of the great secrets of the universe. Anyone who’s ever engaged in a marketing campaign knows that it can be as mysterious as black holes in space, the pyramids in Egypt, and my wife’s dating history (before me of course).
I personally really like to play up the difficulty and importance of solid marketing, because I have a sister who’s a nurse and a brother who was a police officer for 32 years. That’s a lot to live up to at family gatherings.
Solid marketing might not save lives but it does put expensive, gluten free crackers in the pantry. There are ways to market more effectively and today we’ll explore one that you may not know a lot about.
How do I maximize my marketing investment?
Well, that’s easy, right? You simply hire a full-service marketing agency in Phoenix whose name rhymes with tea drink. (I had so many better ones but the editors said no…) If you can’t do that let’s start with one of the more important steps many brands skip, especially when they buy directly from advertising vendors.
A critical early step to formulating an effective marketing campaign is creating customer personas. This is purposefully plural as for most brands, customers vary in age, gender, and more importantly, behaviors.
To keep this blog less than a 10-minute read, I’m going to assume that all of us recognize the value of relevance when it comes to brand messaging. It’s critical for your campaign to deliver relevant messages to relevant audiences.
Because the egg always follows the chicken, you must therefore spend time analyzing your audience.
Since I’ve practically confused myself at this point, I think it might be time for a real-life example as well as shameless self-promotion. Our sister sports agency (Line Drive Sports Marketing) handles the marketing efforts for the Peoria Sports Complex, which is the spring training home for the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres. The people who attend these games (as well as the people we want to attend these games) can be “generally” categorized as follows: local older people, out-of-state fans of both teams, local fans, millennials, local families and Peoria residents.
We then devise ads that would appeal to each one of these demographic groups and then serve them on platforms that make sense for each group. For instance, our millennial campaign emphasizes the social aspect of spring training and might include images of attractive people wearing flannel shirts and wispy tank tops drinking beer. Instagram is a good platform that would make the most sense to serve ads to this age group.
The result: more millennials attending games at Peoria Sports Complex, BOOM. We essentially do the same process for the remaining personas using images, messaging and platforms that are relevant to each. Make sense?
Marketing success was ultimately driven by the very critical step of creating customer personas as a guide for ad creation.
How can you create your own customer personas?
This is relatively easy but then again, so is changing the oil in your car and how many of you change your own oil?
That’s what I thought.
My best advice to you is to not overthink things. Analyze your product or service for what it provides and who would be most likely to purchase it. Careful not to create personas for your exceptions unless you really have something new and exciting to offer them. Outliers can be a way of growing a business and differentiating your brand (aka targeting men for a new day spa), but you must be sure to create an accurate customer persona to market to them effectively.
It’s also good to be very specific. You should literally individualize a customer persona in order to have a greater understanding of how you can better influence their consumer behaviors. This represents the bullseye you are aiming for with your marketing efforts. Anything in and around that can help you to grow your business.
We don’t typically name our personas but companies with in-house marketing staff oftentimes do. This helps non-marketing types (aka management) to better understand what you’re executing while also making any internal analysis a little more light-hearted.
Can your customer persona change?
I’m compelled to say something really smart here but the real answer is well, yes … kind of and candidly, that doesn’t sound so smart, does it?
A good marketer should always be aware of shifting audiences, consumer preferences, and other things like economic pressures that you can’t control. All these make us more important than nurses and policemen when it comes to making you safe. (Are you listening, mom?)
So yes, depending on your business, the type of customer you appeal to may change. When it does, having a well-defined customer persona will help make any pivots easier. Back to our spring training example, the lingering pandemic and the labor disruption forced us to put greater emphasis on everything local. We had to adapt our outreach quickly to respond to conditions out of our control. Customer personas made that process easier and ultimately, more effective for the client.
Personas are the secret to effective marketing.
Customer personas allow your brand to create and serve more effective marketing messages to your most valuable audiences. They represent the baseline step for the creation of all types of collateral assets from websites to brochures to TV ads and even business cards. If you haven’t taken the time to formulate customer personas for your business, doing so will make your marketing as well as your bottom line more prolific.