Since the start of modern advertising in the late 1800s, the method of persuasion has been at the core of all commercially communicated messages.
The evolved marketing landscape and a technologically advanced society have made a significant impact on how people are persuaded by brands today. Once persuaded only by rational factors invoked by advertisers, today people are persuaded emotionally through immersive marketing that employs consumer behavior modification.
With a massive increase in brands competing for premium visibility and adoption in a variety of industry categories, connecting with their intended audience requires more than a “features and benefits” sort of approach. Moreover, people are savvier and more socially connected than they ever were before. They are able to easily tap into their peer influencer network of friends or various online resources to gain valuable and real-time insights and data on a brand. Successful brands understand this quite well and are willing to invest in developing relationships with their audience through two-way brand conversations. The result is brand adoption, advocacy, loyalty, and evangelism.
In sales, it is often stated that people do business with people they know, like, and trust. With marketing being the gateway to sales, it makes sense that the same truism would apply. Today, people connect with brands they know, like, and trust. However, to accomplish this, a brand must develop new and personally relevant ways to be known, liked, and trusted by its audience. This more personal and emotive method of marketing requires a foundation of deep research using demographics, psychographics, ethnographics, technographics, SWOT, and PEST analyses in order to deeply understand the audience. Qualitative and quantitative research is an important starting point, but many marketing and social marketing experts also subscribe to the theory that brands must harness their human characteristics in order to connect with their human audience.
This is accomplished by breaking down the brand DNA into several sections, which together form its personality. Stanford’s Professor of Marketing, Jennifer L. Aaker, whom I’ve blogged about in the past, suggests that brands have five dimensions of personality – sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication and ruggedness, each one with their specific traits.
Buyer personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They help you understand your customers and prospective customers better thus making it easier for you to tailor content to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different groups.
The strongest buyer personas are based on market research as well as on insights you gather from your actual customer base through surveys, interviews, and consumer behavior analysis, just to name a few. Depending on your business, you could have as few as one or two personas, or as many as 10 or 20.
At the most basic level, personas allow you to personalize or target your marketing for different segments of your audience. For example, instead of sending the same lead nurturing emails to everyone in your database, you can segment by buyer persona and tailor your messaging according to what you know about those different personas.