Using personas to shift your focus to the customer

106498980 If you look at most marketing copy — it's about the "thing" — whatever is being sold.  We get features and generic benefits but our focus and the thrust of the message sits squarely on the shoulders of the product or service.

And it's no wonder.  When you focus on something, you tend to write/talk about it.

Let's demonstrate.

If I asked you to write a headline for an ad selling these red shoes to the right — what would your headline say?

(Seriously, take a couple minutes and jot a few down…play along!)

Okay, for many of you your headlines probably ran along the lines of:

  • Isn't it time to get sassy?  
  • Give your feet some sassy for Valentine's Day 
  • Stop traffic without lifting a finger

Nothing wrong with those…but they are a bit generic.  They be be speaking to anyone of any age, income bracket, marital status, etc.

Why?  Because we don't actually know who we're talking to…other than we probably assumed it was a woman, so the copy tends to be generic.  The more generic your audience (in your mind) the more generic the copy.  Which forces us to focus on the "thing."

Which is why personas are so critical to your marketing success.  Do you know who your business is talking to?  And don't say everyone.  Every business should know who their best customers are.  These are the people who create the core of your customer base.  Creating personas based on this customer base is critical to targeting your message.  I wrote about personas and shared some examples a few years back. (click on the link to read).

Let's try the shoe example again but now I'm going to tell you about the customer.  Her name is Leslie and she's 15.  She's in that awkward half girl/half woman stage and she wants to grow up so badly.  She's a good kid, active in school and loves to hang at the mall with her friends.  She spends much of her free time texting, reading fashion magazines and watching MTV's reality shows.  

I could add (and should if this was a real persona) much more depth but you get the idea. Now try your headline again.

Mine might be:  Your dad is going to hate these shoes

Very specific and very much about my audience — rather than about the product.  That's what personas do.  They shift our focus to the prospect rather us talking about ourselves.  You can't create a love affair with a generic customer.  Getting to know your personas and really seeing them as a living, breathing person 

Using personas is a very helpful trick for writing stronger copy, creating content that gets shared, developing customer service programs, making your website sticky and driving sales.  If you haven't developed 3-4 personas for your brand — put it on your to do list for Q1 of 2011.  It will make the rest of the Q's 

P.S. If you want more info on personas, Marketing Profs is doing a webinar on February 10th specifically about the topic.  


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