When you send out an email or post content to your website, do you know who you’re speaking to? How well do you know them? If you can’t quite picture the people on your list, you might need to create marketing personas.
A persona is a fictitious—but realistic and representative—audience member. For instance, you might create a persona named Maria who receives your paper newsletter, follows you on Facebook, and donated $20 for the first time last year. You’ll want to find a photograph to represent Maria and flesh her out with some additional background details. Then you should define why she’s interested in your organization and what her own goals are.
For more on what a persona is, see this great article.
But why do marketing personas work?
The best communications make a connection with another person. You might have a lot of data on your audience, but it’s hard for most of us to translate that into messages that matter to people. Personas work because they help you think about your communications from the perspective of an individual audience member and to speak to their needs.
For instance, it’s easy to send out a ton of messages that are focused on your own goals. Defining your personas forces you to stop and say, “Wait, would Maria‘s inbox be overstuffed with our emails this week?” or “Does this campaign address Maria’s real needs?”
But personas are useful in even more sophisticated ways. For instance, you might map out how to deepen the engagement for each of your personas and target content to each specific audience.