In marketing, telling your audience what you want them to hear should take a back seat to sharing what they want to hear from you. It is a distinction with a definite difference. It is the fundamental meaning of the customer comes first.
Marketers aim to deliver a key message regarding their product, service or idea. That, after all, is the point of marketing. However, pushing a message is only part of marketing.
The other, equally important part is crafting a message that an audience will notice, care about, remember and act on. This part of marketing requires research and insight into what your audience is interested in, where it looks for information and who audience members trust.
Few products, services or ideas appeal to everyone, so one of the roles of market research is to pinpoint the target audience whose members would value, need and be willing to pay for what you offer.
Target audiences usually aren’t monolithic, which is why marketers develop (or should develop) buyer personas. These sketches – which can include fictional names, illustrations, hobbies, favorite brands, habits, motivations and pain points – turn a target audience into a series of human faces instead of rows of statistics.
Buyer personas also serve as a flight plan for messaging by tracing the consumer journey, so marketers know where to focus their energy, time and resources to connect with their intended audience – and how to close a sale. Walking in a consumer’s shoes makes it easier to identify and empathize with that consumer.
Developing buyer personas can be hard work, but it also can be fun. It certainly is useful. When you visualize your audience as people – even generalized types of people – you are more likely to think about what they want to hear, not just what you want to tell them. And that can make all the difference in whether a key message hits its mark or veers off into the vapors.
Many non-marketers (and perhaps even some professional marketers) may be unfamiliar with buyer personas. They don’t follow a particular formula. The best ones have a creative bent. The most useful ones derive from actual contact with consumers.
Alexa posted a blog with 10 examples of buyer personas from a range of sectors, adhering to a wide variety of styles and formats. In some cases, consumer pain points were conveyed as consumer frustrations, but the variations prove the point that how you compose buyer personas may be less significant than whether you create them.
Unlike statistics that are spewed from an algorithm, buyer personas can be easily modified as experience dictates. You may get it wrong the first time. But the good news is you are focused on the right end of the marketing megaphone.
You are assessing and responding to where people are at and how to reach them. You have evolved from sending a message to sharing one. It’s a big difference, and an even bigger deal.