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BUS 340:Marketing Management

Personas in a nutshell

Researching and Creating Personas overview

4 steps to creating buyer personas

So now that you understand what the different types of personas are that you can possibly create, it’s time to start creating them and this is where our Library Databases and other online resources come in to help you!

 There are typically four steps:

  1. Quantitative Analysis-Statistical Reports, Census data from government sources and Mergent.
  2. Qualitative Analysis-Simmons and Business Source can help you dig into consumer behavior
  3. Drafting the Persona-Based on what you learned...what is a snap shot of this person?
  4. Testing out the Persona-test yoru market?  Does the persona line up with the customer/client reality?
  5. Before you start researching, you might want to get started by trying out this handy step by step guide for understanding and creating personas from the OpenUniversity.

"Marketing personas are like the foundation for building your marketing house."

Article by: Aaron BeashelB2B SaaS marketing consultant, Retrieved 09/23/2022.

Without personas, how do you know which message will appeal to your target market’s needs?

Or where to reach your audience to build awareness and drive them to your website?

Or what to write about in your content marketing efforts?

Or how to talk to your audience on social media?

The problem is, most of the literature on marketing personas takes you down the path toward: “John has a wife, 3 kids and a dog’ … which has never proved all that helpful for me. How does John’s family portrait help me write good copy or content? It doesn’t.

That’s why I wanted to write this article to share my experiences and learnings from creating marketing personas at several companies over the years. Let’s dive into the details.

What are marketing personas?

My favorite definition of a marketing persona came from Ardath Albee, who I think is probably the definitive source when it comes to B2B personas. Her definition is:

"A marketing persona is a composite sketch of a key segment of your audience." Ardath Albee

Let’s break that down a little bit:

  • Composite sketch – A marketing persona is not supposed to detail one specific person and should never be based off one specific individual. Instead, it is a composite sketch that should be reflective of majority of people it is supposed to represent.
  • Key segment of your audience – A marketing persona is meant to represent a segment of your target market, not the whole thing. If your target market is ‘Marketers’, it is perfectly acceptable to have multiple personas for the different types of marketers so long as there is enough of a difference between them to warrant a separate persona. You may have multiple marketer personas broken up by business size, or industry, or whatever makes sense for your business.

It can also be worth looking beyond the traditional ‘buyer’ when creating your personas.

Here are a couple of other personas I have developed and used in different ways that you may want to consider:

Detractors – Detractors are the other people in the buying cycle who can potentially derail the sale even if your main persona is all for it. This is particularly common in complex B2B sales with longer sales cycles and multiple people involved.

Influencers – Influencers are people that, although they may not directly buy the product, are influencing the actual buyer so significantly and at such scale that it is worth investing time into these people. A good example of this is accountants who tell small business owners which accounting software to use, or web designers who tell their clients which CMS to use.

Anti-personas – An anti-persona is the exact opposite of a marketing persona. It is a fictitious character that represents a set of people who aren’t your target customers. Just to clarify, creating an anti-persona isn’t saying you’re going to actively block these people from using your product or service, it’s just saying you’re not going to focus your marketing efforts on acquiring these people. Here are a few scenarios where it makes sense to have an anti-persona:

  • Price > Budget – The number one reason why you may want to create anti-personas is if there is a particular customer who you know simply cannot afford your product. If you're selling a piece of software for  $1,000 per month, then it is highly unlikely the average small business owner can afford it (unless it’s mission critical). Therefore, by creating an anti-persona for this person and understanding factors like where they hang out online, you can understand how to not waste your marketing efforts attracting people who will never be able to afford your product.
  • Positioning – There are also times when not going after a particular type of customer is a positioning or competitive differentiation tactic. At Campaign Monitor, we deliberately chose professional marketers at 50+ employee companies as our Marketing Persona, and had an anti-persona of the small business owner, as a way to position ourselves against MailChimp and Constant Contact who focused heavily on the small business market.