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If you’re in marketing or sales, you might think that you know your customers pretty well.

Maybe you work with them every day and you’ve done so for years. Although you might find familiarity comes with time, this familiarity may also come with assumptions.

Assuming you understand your customers’ problems and their motivations can hurt your business. Not really knowing your customers can deteriorate your qualified leads, create unhappy customers, and make your company lose sight of who your ideal customer is.

The solution? Marketing personas.
A marketing persona is a semi-fictional figure that captures the needs, goals, and behavior patterns of your real (and potential) ideal customers.

Personas 101

A persona is a story. You write up a persona using information about the general behavior of a subset of your customers. With a persona, you give a name, face, and relatable story to these common attributes. (Don’t skip the step of naming your personas and giving them faces using stock photography—Really!) 

Personas make hard-to-digest customer data understandable. You can use them to easily incorporate this specific information into your day-to-day work. It’s one thing to know “a lot of our patients are kids with sports-related injuries,” but it’s a much more powerful to have a detailed plan for how to meet the needs of a specific type of customer based on research about their unique point of view.

When you create personas, consider this information:

Demographic and biographic details: Collect standard information relevant to your customer base. If your organization is B2C, family information might be useful to collect; but, if your company is a B2B, then you may not find much value in collecting information about your customer’s three kids and a cat named Fred.

Goals: What problem does your persona have? What do they want to achieve, and what would make them successful?

Motivation: Why are they trying to solve this problem? Is it a personal problem or a professional one?

Pain points and challenges: What are the biggest challenges your persona faces in solving this problem? What are their most frequent complaints?

Search habits: If you’re trying to attract new customers online, you need to get a better idea of how they use the Internet and how they search for information.

Analyze all of this information collected by surveying and interviewing actual customers to create your persona stories.

Personas can transform your business

Personas are a core aspect of inbound marketing. Outbound marketing is when you actively seek out new customers, whereas inbound marketing is all about creating content that attracts new customers to you. To create content that customers want, you need to figure out what they want. Personas are a useful tool to help you do plan content because you create them using information from your real customers.

Avoid the temptation to create personas for every customer you could sell to. Instead, focus only on the customers you want to sell to—those are your ideal customers. Consider where your organization is, and what your goals are for the future. What kinds of customers will get you there? Do you have any customers that look like that right now? Study them to learn how you can attract similar customers.

A real-life persona: Soccer Mom Stacie

We recently developed personas for OrthoIndy. Through phone and digital interviewing, we narrowed in on OrthoIndy’s three target audiences as a part of a larger inbound marketing campaign to help them create content that speaks directly to their patients and build lasting relationships with them.
Soccer Mom Stacie

One of those personas is Soccer Mom Stacie. These are her stats:
  • She’s the mom of a 10–18-year-old athlete
  • Her child experiences frequent sports-related injuries
  • She typically needs an appointment quickly
  • She’s a heavy social media user and is active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
  • Her research process begins with recommendations from her friends, family, and insurance website. She confirms what she’s been told with internet research.
  • Her primary motivation is getting quality care for her child’s injury
Using real patient feedback, we learned that one of OrthoIndy’s largest audiences (and one they wanted to focus on) was “soccer moms”—parents of kids that play sports. Now, OrthoIndy knows what this client looks like, what problem they have, what resources they need to solve it, and where the best place to advertise to them is.

Creating marketing personas is an investment of time and money, but the results—and the understanding of your business—are well worth it. Knowing your ideal customers and the way they want to buy means stronger marketing campaigns for you.
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