Not Relying on Customer Personas

For those of you who aren’t knee deep in marketing jargon, when I use the term “Persona”, you might think I’m referring to an actor taking on an alter ego to deliver a performance (ala Chris Farley and his performance as Matt Foley, an over the top motivational speaker).  I’m not—and, as other marketing veterans will tell you—persona is all about your specific customers.

They’re hard to get right. I won’t be surprised if you’ve kicked around personas in your marketing meetings before, maybe even going as far as creating some yourself in an attempt to know your audience.  The problem I’ve noticed:  most brand persona profiles aren’t up-to-date and aren’t detailed enough.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a stock image of someone who is supposed to be your target audience followed by bullet points of general assumptions about who they might be such as:

Jane Doe:  Career Oriented Mom with 2 childrenFamily sitting on house steps

  • Mid-Level Manager at an Insurance Office
  • College Graduate
  • Income: $40,000 – 55,000
  • Lives in Suburbia
  • Constantly feels like there’s not enough time in the day

Get the picture? Not a lot of insight here…

So then, why bother?  Well, when done right, a persona is a marketer’s guiding light.  Beyond a guiding light, they perpetuate RELEVANCY– the goal of a marketer! Reaching customers when they want it, how they want it and where they want it!

Now, imagine sitting in a planning meeting where everyone knows exactly who you’re trying to target and engage.  Now you’re getting somewhere.

Good personas help us make the right recommendations and choose the right tactics and strategies in marketing. For me, as an example, a good persona profile allows me to:

  • Tailor messaging that’s relevant
  • Plan Media Buys and Placements where our persona congregates
  • Execute creative the customers can identify with
  • Influence Product/Service Offerings

After all, we live in a time where technology makes it possible that we’re all just one click away from making a good–or bad–first impression.  Everyone is using marketing messaging to communicate why such-and-such product or service is better, faster, stronger, smarter over the competition—all I really want to know(now that I’ve been thoroughly desensitized) is how are you going to make my life easier.  Talk to me in a way that lets me know you understand. Get there by using detailed, on-point personas. And if you don’t want to take my word for it: look at Droga5’s “Bring Me Your Challenges,” Prudential campaign and compare it to any other financial services campaign ever… You’ll see what I mean.