“The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife. You insult her intelligence if you assume that a mere slogan and a few vapid adjectives will persuade her to buy anything. She wants all the information you can give her.”– David Ogilvy, Advertising Tycoon
There’s a reason David Ogilvy was referred to as “The Father of Advertising.” His quote on consumer intelligence appeared in his book Confessions of an Advertising Man back in 1963. It was true then, and it continues to hold true today.
If successful marketing was as simple as crafting a tagline and using sales jargon, any business could attract an endless flow of customers and have a fat bank account. But the reality is customers are intuitive and know a sales pitch when they see one. They don’t want fluff; they want substance.
To take it a step further, buyers don’t just want valuable information; they want information that is valuable to them specifically. The more relevant your marketing is to each individual, the better.
How do you shift your marketing approach from appealing to the masses to appealing to smaller niche targets? You start by creating personas that are both well-thought-out and validated.
We’ve written about personas in the past (read An Overview of Persona Creation and Creating Personas & Offering Solutions). They are good resources because they focus primarily on the process of developing personas and how to confirm whether or not they are accurate.
This article is a more in-depth look at the benefits of creating personas, which are numerous. In addition to summarizing the benefits, it provides examples of situations where personas help home in messaging not just to target companies but to the decision-makers and influencers within those companies.
Personas Help You Provide Value
When discussing the benefits of creating personas, the recurring theme is relevance… specifically, the relevance of messaging to the purchaser or purchase-influencer. Personas help you understand targets at a deeper level. Rather than just demographics, you can gain a better understanding of how targets think and what motivates them. Persona creation helps you target someone with the right message that will resonate with them as opposed to the wrong message that will be quickly dismissed.
For starters, messaging should speak to the target’s value propositions. In our article on the subject, we described a value proposition as a clearly defined promise of value a customer will receive from a product or service. By creating personas, you’ll be able to appeal to your targets’ values, whatever they are.
Consider the example of a company marketing industrial vacuums. Realistically, target buyers like a purchasing manager and lead engineer could have similar demographic attributes but vastly different values when it comes to their jobs.
Messaging about cost/affordability would likely appeal to the purchasing manager who is always looking out for the bottom line. But is that what the lead engineer values most? Likely not. It’s probably something like product specs and reliability. In this case, the best messaging for the purchasing manager would be a cost analysis breakdown, while the best messaging for the lead engineer would be a spec sheet or case study that demonstrates quality.
Personas Help You Determine USPs That Will Make Your Business Stand Out
Another benefit of creating personas is that it helps you stand out from your competitors. That’s because personas help you determine the unique selling propositions that position your company as the top choice in the industry.
For this example, let’s consider a company that sells manhole rings and is targeting specifiers and installers. The product qualities that make a brand stand out will probably vary depending on who is asked. A USP that would catch the eye of a specifier could be the materials used to manufacture it that make it more durable than competing products on the market. A specifier will likely be drawn to a product that will provide a long-lasting solution.
While durability may be a good thing in the eyes of an installer, it may not be the top priority. From a day-to-day standpoint, an installer will probably be more drawn to a product that is designed to be installed more easily and quickly than others. In this example, you can adjust your messaging to highlight different USPs based on which persona you are targeting.
Personas Help You Show Buyers How You Can Assist Them in Accomplishing Their Goals & Purchasing Objectives
In addition to value propositions and unique selling propositions, personas also help you pinpoint ways to message targets about how your products and services can help them achieve their goals at work. When they are debating a purchase, what are they hoping to accomplish? How will the product or service help them reach their desired end? If your marketing can address these questions, you’ll move closer to conversion.
For this example, let’s say a company that makes thermoforming machines is marketing to companies that produce plastic products. Their target individuals include purchasing managers and manufacturing managers. Each position has different goals, which means their objectives for company purchases are different as well.
It’s realistic to expect that a purchasing manager would have a goal of reducing business expenses. Messaging about thermoforming machines they could get for less than their normal budget number would be appealing because it would help them achieve that goal. A goal for a manufacturing manager could be to increase production by a certain percentage. If your messaging can provide evidence that your product can help them achieve that goal, they’re more likely to consider you as a supplier.
Personas Help You Get Better Response Rates
The whole goal of creating personas is to get to the heart of what makes your best customers and leads like them tick. By combining demographic and interest-based psychographic information, you can really dial in your target audiences. The more refined, the better because people are more likely to respond to messaging that speaks to them and their work. And the great thing is, this information can be applied to a variety of channels.
For instance, social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn have great targeting features that enable you to plug in the information you have on your personas. In the same way, you can use your information to procure an email or direct mail list from a list company.
To illustrate, let’s compare your targeting options when you don’t have personas versus when you do.
Without personas, if you created a social media ad, your targeting would be limited to industries and locations. So, if your business provides automation technologies for the automobile manufacturing industry, you’d target anyone in that industry who lives within the location radius you specify and be done. That would be a huge audience, but you’d likely have poor ROI because your messaging wouldn’t be relevant to a majority of the people in that audience. Just because they work in the industry and live in that area doesn’t mean they have a say in purchasing decisions.
But when you have personas, you could specifically target the purchasing decision-makers and influencers within the auto manufacturing industries (like business owner and purchasing manager job titles) who live within your target location and have interests in the kinds of automation products and services you provide. That way, your messaging is seen by only the people who are most likely to respond, which will yield more and better leads and provide you with better ROI.
Personas Help You Influence Purchasing Decisions
What do the previous sections have in common? They all speak to how personas help influence purchase decisions. When in the market for a product or service, purchasers and purchase-influencers ask themselves these questions:
- Does the product or service solve a problem for me and my company?
- Does the product or service offered by a particular company have unique attributes that make it more appealing than others on the market?
- Will the product or service help me and my company achieve goals?
- Does the messaging resonate with me and give me the impression this company understands me and my needs?
By creating personas, you can create unique messaging that grabs and holds the attention of a variety of individuals, regardless of their demographics or psychographics, and guides them through your sales funnel until they become customers.