To produce meaningful content, we need to know who we are talking to. At a minimum, a good description of the target groups is needed to craft relevant content, but it is even better if we make personas of the people who will most likely be involved in the buying process.
What Is a Persona?
The word persona comes from Latin. It was originally used for masks used in theater, and later, also in roles in plays or trials. In marketing, a persona is a popular tool for working systematically and purposefully on segments of a market as it defines various roles that affect a purchasing process. A persona is the personification of a target group and a very crucial aspect of any content strategy.
Personas in Marketing and Sales
A target group makes little sense when we are going to produce content. It is easier to relate to a fictional representation of this group, who has a name, a face, clear challenges, goals, and a story. A persona makes it easier for everyone involved in the company’s marketing to get to know the buyers and influencers. Personas make sure you produce content for the right people, who are perceived as relevant and valuable to your business.
Personas are also highly relevant to the sales department as if you work in the lead generation and inbound marketing teams. In the CRM system, salespeople can quickly prioritize which contacts to follow up (and which not to), and which questions and sales arguments they should focus on, based on the contact’s persona. In the CRM database, the persona is a separate field that updates itself when contacts fill out a form on your website, either to get in touch with you or to download or access exclusive content. Also, companies closely analyze their customers’ data to understand their behavior and personality traits and to update the personas on an ongoing basis.
How Many Personas Do You Need?
To answer this question, we need to nuance the concept of persona. So far, we have talked about the marketing personas, or the target group you want to reach and influence. But if you work with lead generation and inbound marketing, it is just as important to categorize those you do not want to include in your sales and marketing work.
Coming to the number of marketing personas you need; it is better to keep the number as low as possible, preferably 3-5. Working with personas is fun and it’s easy to make a bunch of them, but keep in mind that you should only have two personas if they are so different that separating them is necessary to:
1) produce unique and relevant content for them, and
2) that in the further sales work it is important to separate them.
How to Make a Persona?
Follow this recipe to create a persona for your business (there may be some that are not relevant to you, but most should be):
Give your persona a name
The name should describe the role, and feel free to allow yourself a letter rhyme, so it is easier to remember. The idea is to give a name to typify users. For example Marketing Head Maurice, or Marketing Manager Michael.
Such as age, gender, marital status, social background, etc. Here it’s very important to be specific and avoid quoting general information. If the information doesn’t give an added value, try to avoid it.
Social physical and technological environment
Think of a wide range of interactions, like in the case of software-related services; it is helpful to know the technological habit of the user to tailor the content accordingly and enhance user experience.
Find a picture that suits the persona
A picture breathes life into the persona. Shutterstock has many pictures for this purpose; your employees can pose, or you can use pictures of actual customers to make it even more realistic.
Job titles and areas of responsibility
What areas of responsibility does your persona have: marketing, sales, economy, production, or HR?
Your persona can have many different job titles. Include them in the description and make sure you use the ones that cover most of these in the drop-down menu in the contact form.
What industry do they work in?
If you are working towards the same role in several different industries, it may be appropriate to separate these into several personas. But avoid it for as long as you can, as having many personas is not a goal in itself.
How big is the business?
Are you talking to a CEO with thousands of employees or a general manager for a small business? They have the same role (top manager), but probably completely different information needs, challenges, and framework conditions.
Details such as annual turnover and number of employees must also be included wherever necessary.
Who do they report to?
In other words, who do they have to convince after you have convinced them? This can uncover other potential personas and give you insight into what arguments you should serve them, so they can sell you to their superiors and even appear competent and reflective.
What are their biggest challenges?
Here you can find the gold you need to create content that your persona finds valuable. Do they lack knowledge? Framework conditions? Implementation resources? Do they have too much to do or too little systematics? Do you need someone who can explain complex things to them in a simple way?
What tools do they use or need?
What tools do they need to get their jobs done? CRM systems? Reporting systems? CMS?
How to Get Started?
Hopefully, this article has given you a basis to get started on getting some personas down on the drawing board. Whether you choose to run the process internally, or you choose to have a process manager from a consulting company to facilitate, it makes sense to map persona candidates internally first. Whatever process you choose, it’s important to stay focused and assigned to ensure you end up with personas that are relevant to your goals.
If you need assistance with preparing personas, HubSpot has created a great tool for that. You can assess it here: MakeMyPersona.com
Good luck with the work, and feel free to leave a comment in the field below if you have any questions or suggestions.