Several years ago Malcolm Gladwell wrote the book Blink, which is an excellent discussion of the importance of gut instinct in business decisions. Blink suggests that over years of experience gathering, the human mind is far more informed than we generally acknowledge. It is very effective when it comes to making quick decisions. The book provides numerous examples of how the mind succeeds at fast, informed, and eerily reliable decisions. This “Blink” concept can be used to build personas for your market segments.
For those who are not familiar with personas, here is the definition from Wikipedia.
Personas are fictional characters created to represent the different user types within a targeted demographic.
A while back I discussed the importance of understanding the Bell Curve and marketing planning. In a basic sense, think of personas as building a fictional character for each of these segments. Each persona will have a different bell curve for each personal characteristic. For example, let’s say your pertinent characteristics that define your persona’s are: Age, Income Level, and Family Status. You then use these characteristics to define your personas. For example:
Andy: Age 26, earns $65,000 annually, single.
Susan: Age 37, earns $125,000 annually, married with three children.
Phillip: Age 69, retired (income comes from investments), adult children self-sufficient.
The messaging you deploy to each of these personas is quite different. Let’s assume you are a financial advisor. Your approach to messaging differs significantly for each persona. You have to market to each persona’s needs and desires. To over-simplify things, your basic approach will resemble:
Andy: Many years of your career ahead, get started saving now. Take more risks now since you have less responsibilities.
Susan: Focus on children, appropriate insurance level, college planning for each child, long-term wealth planning.
Phillip: Stability is top priority. Safety, income, and estate planning will be hot buttons.
Personas are a great starting point for building your messaging. It gives you the 30,000 foot view. You then have to refine the messaging of course. As you tweak the messaging, you have to remember the “genius” formula that I frequently refer to. Test, measure, refine, retest, retest.
Personas are a great way to start the planning process. Consider making personas a starting point for your overall marketing strategy. If you use them enough you will start thinking of them as real people. If this happens, you are on your way to improving your marketing!