Buyer Personas

Getting Personal: How to Use Buyer Personas for Marketing

Improve your communications by getting personal with your audience

Many social enterprises and nonprofits start with a clear goal of helping meet a need;  along the way other needs or opportunities arise that necessitate pivots. In other cases, a desire for growth leads to organizations trying to be the perfect solution for everyone. In both instances, a lack of clear boundaries on the “who and why” behind a brand can lead to snowballing of potential avenues that ultimately lead nowhere.

One escape route from this endless loop of carpe-ing every diem is the use of marketing personas. Adept marketers use personas to better define target audiences and offer clarity around how to communicate with them effectively. This in turn leads to more successful communications and campaigns, with clear messaging and strategies.

What is a Marketing Persona?

A marketing persona, also called a buyer persona, is a placeholder or caricature of your audience that you can use when developing a communications strategy. It serves as a tool to ensure your messaging and objectives are aligned with the people you’re seeking to reach.

Simply, a marketing persona describes significant attributes of a typical or ideal member of your target segment or audience. This can include some parameters using broad demographics, like age, gender, and income, and also unique information, like lists of hobbies, likes and dislikes, or social interests. The kinds of questions individual personas answer will vary significantly from organization to organization, and even occasionally from campaign to campaign. 

Pause: if you haven’t built a persona before, learn more about creating buyer personas here, then come back to learn more about how to implement them in your marketing! 

What to Do With Marketing Personas

A marketing persona contextualizes your communications and offers clues as to how you can best engage with your audience‍, both in terms of meeting their needs and in creating messaging that resonates with them.

If you have multiple personas, it can be challenging to meet all their needs all the time. Establishing marketing campaigns that approach each audience segment in a more thoughtful and targeted way can make your efforts both more effective and more efficient. For example, you can create a content calendar with a balanced mix of messaging for each persona that aligns with your organization’s goals.

Clearly identifying your personas allows you to ask more thoughtful questions and stay on track while creating and analyzing content and creative assets, as well asn help define your distribution strategy.

Questions to Consider When Using Personas to Create Marketing Content

Once you’ve laid out marketing personas, use them as a tool to guide your marketing message. When creating content, review the relevant persona(s) and ask yourself:

  • Whom am I trying to reach?
  • How are they different from other groups we reach through marketing?
  • What problems or concerns do they have that our organzation can solve?
  • How can we clearly communicate our ability to take care of those needs for them? (Another way to look at this is considering what value we provide -- and look at value propositions specific to each persona.)
  • What media are they most likely to respond to? If their demographic is not known for using email, for example, creating an email marketing campaign to connect with them is probably not your best option.

How Do I Test Marketing Personas?

Your marketing personas shouldn’t be written in stone – they should change as you learn more about your target segments and what their needs are. One way to test the accuracy of your personas is through market research. This can be as simple as interviewing people who fit the profile of each persona (check out this blog post from HubSpot with some great interview tips), or as involved as hiring a market research firm to conduct surveys or focus groups. Collecting demographic data from your marketing analytics platforms will also help you understand if you are reaching the personas you are trying to reach.

Let's Talk

We love helping social enterprises and nonprofits craft buyer personas that increase the effectiveness of their marketing. Contact us to set up a consultation!