Know Thy Consumer

If you have gone through a web redesign in the last couple of years, you are probably familiar with user personas.  Fortunately, most interactive agencies have integrated persona development into their standard design process.  In case you haven’t worked with user personas before, they are usually written descriptions of fictional characters who represent key target audiences.  Personas bring ‘users to life’ by communicating motivations, needs, objectives, and expectations that drive their online behavior.

Personas provide extremely useful insights and work like a compass to help guide your marketing efforts.   They need to part of your marketing planning for a number of reasons:

  1. The process of developing personas should reinforce that neither you nor anyone in your company is your target consumer.  Even if you are a user of your organization’s product or service, working at your company, especially if you are a marketer, creates biases that make you different.
  2. Creating personas help you think of your consumers in terms of needs, wants, and motivations, instead of gender, age, and household income.  Personas create a much richer picture of your consumer than any demographic could.  To me, knowing that someone looks at the purchase of a high-end boat as a status symbol is much more useful than knowing that the average household income of yacht purchasers is $10 million (I made-up number – all I know is that I am not part of that target audience).
  3. Through persona development, you segment your target audience into groups that allow you customize your marketing and tailor your offerings in a way that you couldn’t if you focused only on the notion of a single, average user.  For example, Wal-Mart has identified a group of consumers who will probably never buy clothes from its stores but who are excellent targets for electronics.  Email campaigns that focus specifically on DVD players, plasma TVs, mp3 players, etc. are going to be much more effective in attracting that group than general, ‘Sunday Circular’ types of email blasts.

Know thy consumer is one of the commandments of marketing and personas are a great tool in helping you refining your understanding of key target consumers. If you haven’t created personas, you should.  If you have created personas, make sure that you are using your personas for all of your online marketing efforts, including email campaigns, banner advertising, and search marketing. 

The following are some resources on developing personas:


This entry was posted on Thursday, August 9th, 2007 at 10:19 am and is filed under Email Marketing, Online Strategy, Search Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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