This Insights article was contributed by Katelynn Watkins of Sage Island.
There’s an old adage that states you can’t know a person unless you’ve walked a mile in his or her shoes.
In the marketing world, at least, that theory is proven day in and day out with strategies and campaigns cultivated with particular individuals in mind – buyer personas.
A buyer persona is just what it sounds like. When the marketing team members at Sage Island put our heads together and come up with messaging and delivery tactics, we ask ourselves which types of customers or clients will be receptive to certain content, and which ones will need a special campaign of their own.
To answer these questions, we put together a profile of someone representative of the categories to which we want our product or service to appeal, and then metaphorically go for a walk in their shoes. For example, if you wanted to market your services as a real estate agent that specialized in helping others buy second homes or private vacation getaways, your message would need to speak to those that would actually be in need of your expertise in the near future. These clients would presumably be well-established – enough so that a second home wasn’t so inconceivable in a financial plan – and career-oriented, not a college student who’s in the market for an affordable off-campus apartment for the next year.
The key is to be thorough when you construct the persona, the better to hit on all the major selling points that could possibly make or break a contract with this particular buyer. So let’s presume you want to appeal to the quintessential busy young adult. Here’s the type of persona the Sage Island team might create to guide your marketing and advertising:
Meet Sarah. Sarah is a twenty-five-year-old grad student who works part-time at the local book store. She doesn’t have a lot of spare time, since she goes to classes in the morning at 9 a.m. and typically starts her shift at work by 2 p.m. each week day after a late lunch on the go.
If the store is slow, she might be able to sneak in a little study time in between her duties, but otherwise Sarah waits until she gets home to work on assignments or prepare for the next day. When she closes the book store, she heads home to her apartment and, if her roommate is home, enjoys a late dinner coupled with a little unwinding in front of the TV or an impromptu study session. She takes some time to scroll through social media on her phone and see what she missed during class or work, then heads to bed around 11 p.m. or whenever her homework is through for the night.
Once you have a fairly good idea of the type of person to whom you want to market, the question then becomes how. In Sarah’s case, the key isn’t to give her long-form content to read, as she really doesn’t take much time to read or browse the internet for fun. To catch her eye, short and to the point is the better approach.
As you continue to focus on the way your consumers think, your messaging is bound to become more meaningful and therefore more engaging for your target audience. In the long run, this leads to you meeting your business goals and building lasting relationships with your clients.
Sage Island is a marketing agency that specializes in content marketing, website design and build services, traditional and digital advertising, brand strategy, and website hosting. The agency works with local, regional and national clients across industries to enhance their presences both on and offline and to continue providing top-notch services to their current and prospective audiences.
Diane Durance, MPA, is director of UNC Wilmington's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). The CIE is a resource for the start-up and early-stage business community to help diversify the local economy with innovative solutions. For more information, visit www.uncw.edu/cie.
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