Does a marketing plan need buyer personas?
I am working on our marketing plan for the next 8 months. I have a good understanding of who our target market is. Is it necessary to come up with buyer personas still? I heard it was a good exercise to do when creating a detailed marketing plan. If necessary, how many different buyer personas do I need to come up with?
8 months? I suggest that unless you are in a very stagnant market what is appropriate now may be totally different in 8 months time! Of course you need to know your market so you should have time t get to know them all very well! Good luck
Already you have so many great responses. So I will try to add to the mix, by looking at it from another perspective.
Personas are very important from many aspects.
Each market segment will have different pressure points, and thus different responses.
Personas help you understand what makes them tick, which will help you develop the skill set and language that they will understand.
There are a couple of underlying aspects to consider, which are outside your brand.
1) People buy from people they like.
2) People always want to know " what's in it for me. (how will this make my life easier? ) they may not ask it, but it's something that you should be answer from the buyers perspective.
3) You need to understand the buyer's process., and how best to help them to make their process regarding your product / service easier for them to purchase and justify.
So personas become a valuable tool to use in regard to marketing preparation. It's part of knowing your audience.
When doing this you should also expand your personas to include the buyer, decision maker, CEO , CFO and anyone else who may be exposed to the possibility of your business. In some cases you are saying the same thing using different language, or you may even be saying or highlighting various different aspects and benefits.
Hope this helps,
You will need max 4 personas and min 2 because "One Size Fits All" is no longer possible. Here is the best template I have seen so far
Wishing you nothing but success
There are 32 personas which come from my personal informal research. Each are linked to the other as in: boss-you-minion
Here is the list:
a. fp - good sport, fair player
b. ch - innocent churchgoer
c. ob - obedient
d. in - maverick inventors
e. hr - heritage, patriarchy
f. ga - gaia earth mother atuned
g. cl - clan aligned
h. fd - fuddy mom and pop
i. rc - understanding, caring
j. op - operators / moonlighters
k. ec - economic / sociologists
l. ar - spiritual soldier
m. oh - misﬁt
n. po - politicker
o. bk - oppressed in money
p. bo - body smart
q yh - spiritual
r mo - good businessman
s ii - watched over by high
t tm - easily tempted
u xt - blessed teacher
v st - superstitious teacher
w ez - teach and taught easily
x mm - mastermind
y pl - pleasure seeker
z qq - many questions
α hh - hot headed
β sp - not academic / spiritual
γ iq - genius
δ lo - lost, on and off
ε jl - heart in jail
ζ pg - a prodigal
... cycles to "government" then to top: a.
This should help you come up with some buyer personas or imagine how they would behave.
Yes, the more you know about your consumers entering the purchase process and making buying decisions the better your able to set up points of engagement opportunities to help complete the sales cycle.
Why are you guessing re the buyer personas? A little research upfrone and you will know your target audiences, what they care about and then, without guessing, know how to approach them so for their reasons, not yours, they buy.
Here are 2 articles that can help you do that so your process yields valid personas, which markets make sense to approach, why, how: http://bit.ly/findcustomersbeforetheygooglesearch
Hopefully these iseas and tracks can work for you. Neil Licht
You already have a lot of good answers here. Here's my take...
The better you define your target prospect the easier marketing becomes. It becomes easier to find out where they are, what their "hot buttons" are, and what the message needs to be. There are many marketing gurus that will urge you to come up with one single avatar, representing the perfect/ideal client -- and then if you can determine how to market to them, you have nailed it.
In terms of how many target prospects you should have -- only one, if you can. If you truly market to entirely different prospects, segregate them, define them separately, and develop separate marketing. A lot of marketing fails because it is trying to hit too broad of a range of prospects.
The step that is often forgotten is, once you have defined your target prospects, what are their hot buttons. What do they need? What are they worried about? What do they desire? What is their biggest problem? etc. The reason for this is that most marketing fails because of the lack of a powerful marketing message. You MUST get your prospect's attention (by referring to a hot button), you must engage them (keep them interested by letting them know you have the answers), educating them to help them make a good decision, and then provide a low risk offer.
If you should have an interest, I just did an online training event on "How to Create KILLER Marketing Messages!". You can watch the recording by going to this link: https://yourbizsuccess.leadpages.co/webinar-3-22-recording-optin/
It's free and will provide easy, useful information for small businesses, which you will not have seen before. All the best...
You seem to have achieved a high degree of consensus - you do need personas. Good. They will help you convert your marketing into sales by properly targeting it.
But you knew this before you posted your question, I thin. I suspect you feel some resistance though, and were kind of hoping people would say 'no, it's okay. Go ahead without them.'
Don't think of the personas as a stand-alone exercise that adds to your workload. Instead, think of it as part of the process for drafting your marketing and sales copy and designing your advertising. It will make it trivially simple to craft your copy once you know who your personas are and what concerns they have. And then, if you have your personas right (see comments about validation), your copy will convert well too.
Not so many people answered your question: 'how many?' My answer to this is: how many marketing/advertising campaigns are you prepared to run? Everything from your ad to your landing page to your enticing offer to your sales copy needs to be targeted on your persona. You need to be able to track metrics for each campaign so you can test it against the real people out there. so you can make your personas more and more like your best buyers.
So, if you want to start light, start with one or maybe two personas, representing your very best potential customers. But be aware, that there are very few products and services that will sell well to twenty different personas. If you need that many, you are either selling a commodity, or your aren't being realistic about your targeting.
Launching OnlinePMCourses in June, targeting it on one primary persona, and two secondary personas.
Absolutely need to create a buyer personas. Even before you speak to quality must know the demand. How does one acquire this demand knowledge? You may call it buyer personas I call it Branding Survey. Every company, whether they realize or not, has a brand that must resonate with your present and potential customer base. Use metrics like surveys to determine the buyer personas or demand. Think of some company brands that identify the company as opposed to the other way around such as Oreo's or Coca Cola. We automatically without thinking associate those products to their companies. That is what a buyer persona or branding survey will do for your company.
Plenty here to help: Easy anser with complexity is "Super important." The most important research right after your product or service and how it fits in the marketplace.
I add more on these segments or segmentation or targeting. They need to be: Measurable; Substantial; Accessible; Differential/Different; Actionable.
Look and research: Demographics; Geographics; Psychographics; Behavior; and now add the significance of Technographics or technographical characteristics.
As Management guru Peter F. Drucker once said: “The aim of Marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him (her/it) and sells itself. Custoemr or potential customers are "people" in the 9P's as a framework to help you understand complexities of Marketing and targeting.
And this is one of the reasons I created and copyrighted the Nine P’s . “People” or Targeting was slightly forgotten in the Marketing Mix, and is a major, significant part of the 9P’s of Marketing.
Companies do not get potential users or customers to try a product by convincing them to love their brand. You get them to love a brand by convincing them to try and use the product or service.
Developing a strong brand is a byproduct. It comes by executing and doing the elements/parts/things/variables/ingredients/components in the Nine P’s of Marketing... right. Make sure the Product or Service is excellent. Research and Planning excellent.
Be sure your company is taking good care of their customers (People), and having the right Planning and targeting (People), the right Product or Service, right Place or distribution, right Price, right Promotion, right Partners, and the right Presentation, with the right amount of Passion in the 9P’s of Marketing.
Make sure there is differentiation. Unique Selling Proposition or Point,
shortened to U.S.P., falls here too. Differentiate based on the needs and
wants of the potential consumers (People again under 9P's of Marketing) and businesses.
Customer differentiation and satisfaction are what build brands.
o A product focusing on a specific target market contrasts sharply with one following the marketing strategy of mass marketing. In my book, a target audience would be a media term; target market is a marketing term.
o Defining a target market requires market segmentation; the process of segmenting the entire market as a whole and separating it into manageable units based on:
Technographics or technographical characteristics.
o Segmentation is an important Marketing concept; the market segmentation process includes: Targeting these segments in the market based on those characteristics. Don't forget to check to see whether any of these market segments are large enough to support the organization's product.
Hope this helps.
Know your target. Clarity is important. Your buyer persona is a must and will stand out. Your target market is your niche. Find THAT one and you have it. You can stretch your market later.
Yes, yes, yes.... but think past the tradition of Jennifer, aged 45, married with 2 children in college.
Depending on your product or service, you need to think interests, hobbies, and personalities. We're seeing a lot of changes in segmentation and it's clear that age and economic segments change.
Understand who wants to by your product or service -- but to truly be effective, you need to know their motives, interests and, most importantly, why they choose you. Writing it down is important. Sketching it is a great way to get a good picture of your audience. Too often we are myopic when we define our target and we get it wrong.
Using charts and marketing tools is an excellent way to help you define your specific target market. The more specific they better. When a company gets it right, they attract many more people beyond that specific target -- that's because your value proposition, creative and personality sticks. When you know who you are talking to, others listen in.
Buyer personas are a tool. It's not the persona per se that's important, it's the thinking and formalizing what your key messages and value propositions are to your key customers. There is value in the exercise of formalizing the thinking. If nothing else, you will document your assumptions and in the next 8 months you might realize that what you thought today is incorrect. It can also help you to see relationships between different parts of your product/service offering; for example one buyer persona might have mulitiple needs for your product whereas another might only have a few. If you choose to target both of those, you can see that there may be options for a full-featured offering for one group and a reduced-feature option for the second.
So, to answer your question, do you need a buyer persona, no, you can build a marketing plan without one of course, but you will lose out on a lot of valuable thinking about who your customers are (beyond just their demographics) and how to sell to them most effectively. It's an exercise you can do in a rough form in a couple of hours if needed. So the question isn't do you need one, but why wouldn't you do one?
Yes. In my experience, the deeper the dive into buyer persona the better. First, define your target audience and look at the data; it may surprise you. I’ve seen many business owners think one thing about who comprises their target audience only to be surprised by the reality of who are their top buyers.
Define by age, sex, location, relationship status (it matters), income, when, where and how they use your product. What’s their daily life like; future plans (dreams), what keeps them up at night or motivates them to work harder. All of this information helps build a well-rounded buyer persona so you can create messaging that is relevant to your target audience.
Build as many different personas as your data tells you is necessary. Use the data and the buying trends to see if the target audience shifts. You said you’re planning on going 8 months out. So, that’s summer, back-to-school and the holidays. I can already see spending shifts, but without knowing your business product or service it’s hard to say whether it impacts you.
To identify your target market, yes. Buyer personas will help you drill down to the details of your audience and your marketing plan may be different for different personas, i.e., male vs. female, age brackets, etc. If you have different sales funnels for each it will make tracking what works and what doesn't work that much easier. Check out HubSpot - they have some templates that are very handy.
An effective marketing plan can certainly benefit from the exercise, but they're not absolutely necessary.
"Personas" are a concept in user-centric design that allow you to imagine customers before you have any.
Typically, they represent an imaginary person and image, based on your ideal target audience (who are defined by demographics, psychographics, geography and behaviors). It's a way of bringing all the ideas together to help you create materials that will resonate with each segment of your audience. They're also useful if you work in a team and need to have everyone aligned on who you're marketing to -- you're creating a more concrete idea of who you're going after, so everyone "imagines" the same thing.
They're very beneficial for creating websites, for example, helping you think through the behaviors of each type of visitor segment as they experience your website. You may even want to think of them as first time visitors, repeat visitors, journalists, investors, etc. This also demonstrates how important it is to understand user behavior *in context* -- that is, while they're at their desk -- which prompts the thought about how they may experience your website via mobile while they're out shopping. You see, the whole idea is that you imagine an actual customer, so you don't miss any opportunities and everyone is on the same page.
There are 2 issues hidden in your question or in my answer to it!
Firstly, I have no doubt about your professionalism and your belief in understanding the market segment you are trying to address (you know there is a BUT coming!). But, if I had $ every time a potential customer told me this, I would not need to work again. Here is why.
Clients mostly say “I know exactly the profile of the clients I am targeting”, however, when they actually are forced to define it in writing, they realise they are either looking for a non-existent sector or the man from Mars.
Market segmentation is defined as grouping of the target audience that can be defined, measured, with a proven demand that can be reached whilst the segment must be significant enough to generate sufficient revenues to meet your business plan. This is known as the Addressable Market.
Yes you can cut, dice & slice the market any which way you like, but it does not make it an Addressable Market.
This because not only you have be able to define them, but also know how many there are, and measure the demand, price point, etc. For example what age group, how many people, what price and what demand is there for a Pink Rolls Royce! I am sure there are people who want a Pink Rolls Royce but is there enough demand to justify setting up a paint-workshop within the manufacturing process of an automobile production facility? The answer clearly was “No” hence you can buy one from a Rolls Royce dealer and take it to your local paint workshop and they will paint it any colour you want.
So the question here is “Is the niche too niche to make money?”
Secondly, how do you get to these people? If the Addressable Market is broad enough then how can you differentiate your offer. If it is a niche, how do you market to them? So defining your customer is the most basic element of marketing, which really should have been done during your product or service development.
Once you have defined the potential Customer Profile, you can then study the Addressable Market, which should then demonstrate to you the value, the channels, their habits, their desires, their decision making process, price point, etc.
These should help you avoid “Fire and Pray” marketing or product development. Far too often companies (and individuals) create a product, launch it and then look for a customer profile to fit it!How often have you heard of “This is a product waiting for a market!”. What this really means, it is a great product only if there was anyone who was willing to pay for it.
As to how many profiles, that depends how many product/service variants you have and what value proposition you can create for different products targeting different profiles. On this point you are asking the wrong question. You should ask “What is my value proposition?” but remember Value Proposition could be different for different Customer Profile. What kind of people buy SUVs? Many different types. Farmers, hunters, families, executives, rangers, rescue teams, military, etc. Each group buys it for a different reason, so your value proposition is different for each of them but your product is the same.
Yes. You need to understand your target market and define your ideal client. By define, you should know the demographics, sex, age, married or not, income, etc. You also need to know their problems like what keeps them awake at night, what will force them to solve the problem, how does your solution solve it and what results your clients will receive.
The reason for this exercise is so that you can build your marketing message so that it resonates with your prospects and sets you apart from all the others who are marketing them.
Yes, absolutely, 100%!!! Do not pass go, do not collect $200 without creating well-researched and validated (yes, you need to talk to your customers and prospective customers to get their feedback on your hypotheses!) personas.
The foundation of your marketing plan should be built upon your personas and I can't imagine a scenario where you could effectively develop a plan without them. Without fully understanding who you're going after, how can you decide where to allocate your time and budget? And then after you've executed your plan, without knowing who you were trying to convert, you'd be unable to quantify your own success.
I tell my clients to try and limit to no more than three personas, ideally 1-2 only initially. Any more than that and you'll overcomplicate your plans and strain your resources. They don't need to be complicated profiles either.
The crux of what you're trying to accomplish with each persona is to understand who that target audience is (jobs, personalities, motivating factors), how you can capture their attention (paid search keywords, content marketing, sales prospecting, etc.) and what you should do (and how!) to educate and convert them to customers once you have their attention.
These three elements are likely to be a different "mix" for each persona and by targeting your marketing efforts to each of your personas' mixes you'll see much better results in terms of ROI vs. the one-size-fits-all approach to marketing which is a huge waste of time and resources.
Hope this helps!!
It is a good idea to do so. You should come up with at least one persona per marketing segment. Hubspot has helpful and useful info on how to do this at the link below, as well as an excellent buyer persona template that you can download and fill in yourself: