The great US political figure Tip O’Neil loved to say that “all politics is local,” meaning if you don’t listen to and understand your constituents, you won’t last very long. In marketing, the same is true.
All marketing is personal.
The result you want is for someone–a CIO or a CEO, a teenager or a senior citizen, whoever–to buy your product.
Appealing to too broad a set of targets will water down your message. Your focus, and your understanding of the personas you’re after, will be critical to success.
The tighter your focus, the better you’ll do. So, before you even start your work, identify the persona(s) you’re targeting (there are plenty of firms out there that will help you do that).
First, don’t get trapped into thinking that you already know your customer. Sure, your salespeople do their homework; they know the people they talk to. But they’re after that one deal. You should help clear the way to more than just one deal by identifying the people before your sales crew goes in.
Who do you think really buys your product? The manager your salesperson talks with every couple of months? Or his boss?
There are influencers you probably don’t even know. Who are they? What appeals to them? What are their problems? How can you solve them? What are their likes? Their dislikes? Where do their loyalties lie?
Fill sheet after sheet with questions and provide an answer for each one.
Nail down your personas, then print out the descriptions–even choose pictures that represent the personas you’re after.
Then, while you’re looking at copy, at artwork, at campaigns, keep the personas in mind. And when you think you’re done, see what you can take away. Remove things one at a time and you’ll see what works and what doesn’t. The second point in paragraph two might be a better lead. The graphic you threw out last week might now work. Who knows?
If you can, test your work with customers and prospects. This will be the most enlightening time you’ll spend. People–including corporate buyers–have visceral reactions to brands. Knowing the ones you’re after and the reactions they have to your brand will help you immeasurably.
Isolating your target personas and testing your work will cost you some money. But the investment will pay of as you launch your next products, plan campaigns, redesign your website, or organize your next event.
How have you used personas? How have you tested your work? You have done this, right?