Personas - a group of people you want to influence
What is the primary objective of marketing?
Udi Ledergor, the CMO of Gong (a sales calls intelligence tool) recently stated that marketing is used to make sales easier.
In other words, marketing is a process used in order to help the sales team to reach their targets and sell more of either a product or service. But what tool can marketers use in order to make their own jobs leaner? In our view, one of the most important tools a marketer can use is the “Personas”. However, over the last number of years, we heard many discussions regarding the use and success rates of personas, and whether or not they should have a strong place in modern digital marketing and online sales strategy.
As marketers, before we start working on any project, we have to ask ourselves first, “Who is this product/ service for?” This is the key insight we must begin with before we dive into the marketing strategy and tactics. This product or service we want to promote, cannot be just for everyone. We need to influence someone, or ideally, a group of someones. A group of people that would like this product or service. But which ones?
To answer this burning question, a personas tool is used.
Personas allow us to define who is this product/service for. If we were to pick this group of people from the crowd, how would we define them? What makes them different to anybody else, what triggers them, what do they care about. But most importantly for personas, we have to establish what makes them similar to each other.
We must discover attributes which make individuals similar to each other so that they can be defined as a group. Do they have psychographics in common?
A lack of focus on psychographics is the reason why so many personas fail. So many marketers concentrate too much on demographics and not as much on psychographics when creating a persona. This is a major mistake especially in the era of globalisation, social media, instant access to knowledge and political polarization on a scale never seen before.
At Female Event Planners, we deeply believe that a modern marketer needs to base all assumptions and personas on people’s “worldview”. How one sees the world will ultimately determine his/her beliefs, motives, and actions. How one sees the world will determine how he/she sees themselves and their family members. All our decisions, including purchasing decisions, religious, political, social are based upon our world view, and not based on our sex, age, where we live or what we look like.
The world view is a set of stories that people tell themselves and helps them identify as individuals who should be acting in a certain way. A good example is an eco- friendly individual who believes in saving the world and limiting pollution. Such individuals will choose an electric car over diesel, a glass reusable bottle over plastic ones, or a fake eco-leather jacket over luxurious real fur. All of these decisions are based and derive from their view of the world, beliefs and convictions. No matter what text copy, video or images a marketer uses in order to promote a real fur (durability, cruelty-free manufacturing, luxurious feeling), a person with an eco-friendly world view, will not be pushed to buy that fur, even if demographically (age, income location, sex) she /he fits in with the target market of a producer. This example illustrates why psychographics is way more important in the creation of the personas.
A famous marketer Seth Godin in his recent book “This is marketing”, said: “Everyone deserves to be treated as an individual with dignity(...)but as marketers, we must begin with a worldview and invite people who share that worldview to join us “.
Every single decision in our lives is connected with our world view and how we want our personal world to look like or to function. Certain products or services can also help us to feel a certain way, in line with our beliefs. It matters who we are and who we want to be in life, and how a product or a service can make us feel about ourselves.
Marketing is used to ensure that this product will benefit us but more importantly, that it is in line with our beliefs. For that very reason, we can see products such as “Colgate” promoting diversity in their recent ads, or “Dove” promoting their commitment to real female bodies and real beauty. Let’s look more closely at an example of Dove: The people who buy a Dove moisturiser vs Victoria Secret moisturiser (a brand facing backlash for using unrealistic female models), have two completely different world views - even if they are living in the same city and are of the same age. Upon entering a store, every individual knows already if they want to feel like an “angel” with ideal curves and sex appeal, or if they feel like a real woman, who is confident about her imperfections and supports diversity and acceptance of imperfections.
All decisions start with a world view and our personal beliefs. But what else could we use to strengthen our personas /group of people?
Having understood the importance of psychographics and drawing up our personas based on beliefs, behaviours and views, we can use demographics to further target our marketing work. In my view, demographics should only be used as an add on in order to further distinguish one group of people from another. For example, there might be two groups of people buying Victoria Secret products who share the same worldview but might share slightly different hobbies and demographics: middle-aged women, who follow a strict fitness regime, for whom purchasing a Victoria Secret product is almost like a sign of status that they belong to an extra fit club. And secondly, a much younger woman with less income, who loves the brand for its trendy, colourful and fun aspect as well as the impact on pop culture (in other words to look cool in front of their peers). In both cases, the images and message used in an advertisement, in order to reassure them of their world view, must be different.
The additional demographic information will be used to target the ads and spend the budget in a smart way. And this is the best use of personas. What is your ideal customer thinking and how does he/she see the world? There are groups of people who this product/service is not for and we must clearly define it as well. This is as important as knowing who the product is for. We will never be able to serve everyone and so we must be more specific. Specific is more accountable. Specific is better to measure as well. It either worked or it didn't work. But in order to begin, we must choose the people who are open to hearing our message, and who are more likely to want what we are offering.
Marketers should be curious about people and they should use that information in order to make their jobs and assumptions better. Personas will help marketers in creating better content, better text copy, and of course, set campings with the most appropriate information and targeting. Most importantly, personas will help to set very specific SMART goals, measure those specific goals and keep our work accountable. Personas help us to ensure we are targeting people who actually like our product and will most likely use it, and that we are using the type of message, images and communication that they would understand and feel inspired by.
And if inspired enough, an individual will take action which will result in a purchase. Yes, marketing done right can surely make sales easier.