Countless once-skeptical businesses have changed their tune about personas [define]. The successes have been well documented, but a lot of smart people continue to scoff at the idea, thinking personas are a touchy-feely attempt to connect with customers on, like, a cosmic level — and that you’d have to be some kind of marketing hippy to waste budget on fluff like that.
Those attitudes are changing. This month’s Internet Retailer magazine shows how companies like Future Now are using personas to bridge the gap between business and customer*; not by targeting specific people, but by attracting them according to their needs and buying preferences. By speaking their language. By anticipating their questions ahead of time in order to answer them at the right time. By reducing friction in buying process. And it works.
Just ask Steve Franzman, founder of Detoxologie.com, a client who used personas to boost conversion by 400%, and get a 2 to 1 return on a floundering Pay-Per-Click campaign. Steve didn’t even go for the full-on, from-the-ground-up implementation (see also: Howard Kaplan’s “six-figure” quote in the article). Instead, the company did a low five-figure analysis of its current site and used just four simple personas to get enough perspective to rework the entire website.
When it comes to personas, the return you get depends on how much you’re able to implement. It’s why we encourage clients like Steve to think big by starting small. As with any marketing spend, the focus should be on spending the least amount of money to generate the best possible return on investment. Time and time again, personas have proven to be the most effective tool to plan multi-channel campaigns. But not all personas are equal.
An entrepreneur struggling with a lot of other tough decisions, Steve spent a month pouring over whether he should invest in personas. His competition was marketing themselves in ways that made Steve uncomfortable. They seemed successful, but he didn’t want to be like them. He felt he understood his customers better and had serious empathy for their needs — his website just wasn’t showing that, and he didn’t know where to start. Before personas, he says, “Our customers were everybody and we didn’t know how to deal with them.”
If you feel the same way, you’re not alone. To find out how the use of personas can boost your marketing potential, don’t be shy. Reach out and ask us anything and everything about personas. But remember, with personas, you are what you implement. It’s like having your own customers as a personal trainer. Personas can tell what to improve and what to avoid, but it’s up to you to take the first step.
[*Pay attention, B2B's. You have customers, too.]