Persona Marketing & Communications – Be a solver not a seller

Brand Communication is an art that needs careful assessment of multiple variables. Of the variables involved, the most important one is the buyer of the product. All the other factors revolve around the buyer. Hence, it is critical to thoroughly know & understand him/her.

Keep in mind that the final step in the selling process eventually happens in the mind of the buyer. However much one may push the product through your communication, until the buyer convinces herself/himself that s/he needs the product, the sell will not happen. Most buyers sell the product to themselves when they conclude that the product will help them achieve certain/multiple goals.

Thus, if a seller knows the goals that the buyer is hoping to achieve, the communication pitch can be created to showcase how the product will assist in smoothly achieving those results. Although, different buyers have different goals, it is not that difficult to map the most critical ones for a set of audience.

This is done by creating Buyer Personas. Buyer Persona is a process of defining who you are selling to, and what goals this buyer is aiming to achieve. By understanding the professional/personal thought process of the persona, these goals can be mapped out. Goals are further broken down in to three categories – primary, latent and ultimate.

Primary goals are the pressing problem that need to be solved. Latent goals are the decisions that will help the buyer impress upon his network through the product knowledge/usage. The ultimate goals are the ones that help the buyer to achieve recognition, acknowledgment or personal/professional growth or/and satisfaction.

To illustrate this, let us create a scenario where a B2B product is being sold to an enterprise. The product purchase will not be a single persona decision. It will involve multiple persona selling. Each persona will have their own primary, latent and ultimate goals. Thus, the brand must prepare for multiple personas. Let us start with the division head. Once a division head identifies that the division is facing a challenge, s/he will seek a solution to that problem. This is her/his primary goal. Assuming that the seller is offering a solution to this problem, the seller will now need to understand the latent and ultimate goal of the division head. The latent goal for the division head would be to convince her/his board to purchase this product. Thus, the brand must furnish all that details that will help the division head to convince others. Once the product is approved and bought, and the company sees great result, the board will acknowledge the division heads judgement. This is the ultimate goal that the product communication pitch must address. Similarly, the head of finance will have her/his primary goals (cost saving), latent goals (improve profitability) and ultimate goal (acknowledgment for improved profitability).

Same is true for B2C product communication as well. The key difference is that, B2C sales may or may not be multiple persona pitch. When a product is common usage product, like an electronic good or a house, multiple personas may be involved. When the product is more personal, like clothes, shoes or food items, then a single persona is involved.

With the isolation of the personas, multiple goals can be identified. These goals can then be classified in to the three categories stated earlier. The purpose of doing this is to identify what makes your buyer tick? What motivates her/him the most and what compels her/him to act. A strong market research needs to be done for this understanding to seep in to your communication process.

In today’s time and age, information is available everywhere. One need not go seeking information. Social Media & Online Forums are a treasure trove of user behaviour information. Actively listening to what your persona is talking about can help you understand her/his primary, latent and ultimate goals very easily. All you need is digital/social intelligence which is constantly listening to what your personas are saying. A steady inflow of this will, over a period of time, allow you to identify a set pattern for closely related personas. They can, then be clubbed, with their goals more or less being common.

Once the listening is done, you must learn from the data available. Identify the questions that these personas are asking and what solutions have appealed to them the most. This will help you understand the process of decision making. It will allow you to know what the clinching factors were in a particular purchase.

Once these have been identified, leverage this information to create answers that these personas may want to hear. Tailor your communication to address the top three concerns that each person may be looking to address. This will not only give you a great communication pitch, but will create a very favourable impression about you and your organization. You will come across as a problem solver and not as a product seller.

In the absence of a social/digital intelligence capabilities, you can look at more traditional ways of getting these insights. Speak to your customers, prospective customers, referrals, influencers and retailers/resellers, etc.

The Listen, Learn, Leverage concept can also be utilized for your product development. Which, in turn will help you to strengthen your persona based marketing. Knowing how your product can solve multiple problem that the buyer may be facing with minimal adjustments and cost, will not only give you an edge but also a long term deal. It will also enable you to convert your customers in to channel partners as they can introduce you to other personas that are looking for similar solutions.

Once you have your personas defined, along with their goals, all your marketing efforts can then be customized. Instead of sending generic emailers, customized emailers with specific details can be sent across. Similarly, your social media content creation can be altered to address questions that multiple stakeholders may be asking. Even the white papers, videos or case studies can then be created to pique the interest of different persona sets.

A basic frame work of Persona Mapping involves addressing the following key points:

  • Who – It includes the background of the persona, along with the demographic details and behavioural & qualitative identifiers
  • What – What challenges is the persona looking to address (primary, latent & ultimate) along with what goals s/he aims to achieve and what can your product do for her/him
  • Why – These are the reinforcements that the persona would need to convince himself and others, remember that s/he need to sell the product in her/his mind. These could be testimonials, success factors, solutions to common concerns, etc.
  • How – Create best routes for content consumption. These could be pitch decks, social media communication, emailers, white papers, blogs, videos, etc.

Be it B2B selling or B2C selling, Persona Marketing is helpful in creating the right situations in which the consumer/buyer will convince her/himself that the product you are offering, is exactly the product s/he was looking for.

– Mayur Milan

Mayur Milan, Founder Director & CEO, Ourbit Digital. Mayur is an engineer with a masters in communication. One of the early adopters of digital/social media communication profession, Mayur has worked on some of the biggest brands such as Microsoft, HDFC Bank, ITC Hotels & Bajaj Allianze to name a few. Mayur is also a guest faculty in various media institutes. He is also engaged in Animal Welfare and conducts Ethical Leadership workshops.

He can be reached on Twitter at @mayormilan

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