The fashion in which brands communicate has shifted dramatically since the advent of social and digital media. Back in the day, traditional mainstream media would reach large portions of a brand’s target audience while vertical media would tell the story in a more specific way to the people within a specific industry. Today, there is far less reliance on traditional media and brands have to bring a much greater degree of personalization to integrated marketing efforts. Rather than blasting out generic content to nameless, faceless “audiences,” marketers are now taking into consideration the actual people they are selling to and the different phases each of them are at on the buying journey.
And this is a good thing because very few people come to a website, store or meeting with their mind fully made up to make a purchase. Some may have done prior research to narrow the selection process. Others may just have realized they have a need but don’t have a specific solution in mind. Quite a few don’t know what they don’t know. Because of this, each of them arrive a brand’s doorstep with different needs on a different buyer’s journey. Each of these buyers arrives with a different set of needs and expectations much like people do when they all come to a brick and mortar store. Each of them also has a different “persona.” Just like people in the real world have different personalities, these buyer personas help define the person’s state of mind, sophistication level, entry point to engagement with the brand/product and likelihood to buy. Savvy marketers and folks like us at integrated communications agencies understand that each of these personas require a different point of engagement and associated content to help them navigate the journey to the desired end destination.
Facilitation of that journey to the desired end result can be effectively aided by up-front planning and the creation of said buyer personas. From the marketing perspective, personas align the needs of the different customer buying phases/interest levels with sales and marketing program elements to gain personalization and filter the right content to the right stage of the buyer. They also help all members of the marketing, communications and sales teams understand and relate to customers as actual human beings. Armed with this level of clarity, the associated activities of content creation, product development, sales follow up, and anything else relating to customer acquisition/retention becomes more focused and productive.
Drilling down further, a focus on personas enables a more succinct connection between content creation and messaging that is more pinpoint focused on the people who need to consume it. It also allows for personalization of any given marketing activity for different personalities involved from the buyer pool. On a granular level, a brand no longer has to rely on sending blanket lead nurturing emails to “everyone.” Rather, the personas allow segmentation by buyer persona and the tailoring of messaging to align to each. Taking it one step further, the personas also influence marketing activities within the sales lifecycle. Depending on how deep a potential buyer is in a sales cycle, personas are very helpful in mapping out effectively targeted content. This also works the other way. Some brands will also develop “negative personas” to filter out those unlikely to convert, gain a lower cost-per-lead/cost-per-customer and obtain higher sales productivity.
In this age of personalization and 1:1 engagement, the buyer persona is a highly effective way to create stronger bonds with potential customers and secure them at hello. That makes for a nicer journey all the way around.