{ How to Get Started with Persona-Based Marketing }

For many, the idea of creating customer personas seems to be feasible only for big time marketing experts with billion dollar budgets. Yet increasing numbers of in-house marketing managers and local advertising agencies are finding persona marketing more affordable and important than ever.

Demographics like industry, location, job position, etc. have always been used to define our customer profiles. However, today’s customers are educating themselves with information on the internet. This freely accessible information is framing their purchasing decisions.

Smart marketers are using niches and personas to tailor their message to the specific needs of customers through relevant conversations. Personas extend beyond demographics. They define the characteristics, current conditions and influencers of your audience. Ultimately personas give us a way to recognize and talk the “language” of the many types of people that our products or services can help.

Thinking about these facts I realized it was time to really define our company niches and personas. I’ve always had them “in mind” but it wasn’t until I actually wrote them down that I started to understand the benefits the process can bring.

Creating Our Company’s Personas

The first thing I did was to open my trusty spreadsheet and define our niches. Niches are different from personas and are a subset of your customers providing a narrow focus for better content targeting. There can be many personas in a niche.

Once I defined some of my top niches I moved on to define the personas for our Email Marketing niche. Right here is where I had my “duh!” moment. I realized that what I was trying to create in my spreadsheet was an outline with deeper and deeper levels of detail that defined my personas.

My “duh!” was that calc{list}’s outline lists are perfect for this. Just like everyone else my natural reaction is to put everything in a spreadsheet. Using calc{list} makes defining personas much easier and can be later used for organizing campaigns themselves.

Create Niches & Personas

In calc{list} I created the {Marketing Niches} list and entered persona types for each niche. For brevity we’ll focus on our “Email Marketing” niche. Its five personas are the types of professionals that would be directly interested in our product for that niche.

Create B2B Persona Categories

Ardath Albee’s new book “eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale” is a complete guide to creating content that captures your audience’s attention and moves them through the sales process. She has a great chapter on persona building that I highly recommend.

In her book she explains how B2B personas are different from consumer personas. She says; “Personal characteristics are important, but B2B personas must recognize that the prospect’s professional standing and priorities will hold additional sway over what catches his attention when it comes time to solve a business issue.”

She continues to expand upon her B2B persona definition which I used as the framework for six personas categories. I will later expand upon each category with reference to our product. A quick synopsis of the six:

  • Problems Needing to be Solved: These are problems that tend to remain on the forefront of their mind and possible pain points.
  • Current Environment: Are there any obstacles to taking action on purchasing our product? These may include political conditions, lack of consensus on how to fix a problem, budgetary constraints, etc.
  • Strategic Business and Career Goals: Are there viable business outcomes that achieve company goals? Also, will it help personal career advancement?
  • Preferences and Aversions: What is their predisposition or perspective to solving the problem? Do they favor opportunities or risk mitigation?
  • Competitive Considerations: Does our product help them differentiate their company from the competition? Does the solution create an advantage or make them equal to competitors?
  • Influencers: Who can influence the buying process? Colleagues, stakeholders, users, champions, consultants, external peers.

I created my six standard persona categories for each persona type. These categories help me develop a more complete persona definition.

Create Persona Details

Now remember each node in our {Marketing Niches} list is also a list. This means that we can simply double-click any node to open up that particular list. Below you will see that I have opened the {Small Business Owner} and {Marketing Professional} lists.

Notice that my {Small Business Owner} list’s description area holds a short story about the Owner which is used to further focus our persona details.

Next I filled out the final details of my personas. When comparing them side by side you can easily see that my “Small Business Owner”, who manages the company’s marketing activities, has a much different perspective than my “Marketing Professional” persona.



As you work through all the categories you’ll see your personas come alive as real people with specific needs. Be sure to approach them from the perspective of your customer. It’s really kind of exciting.

Persona Grata

Persona Grata: Fully acceptable or welcome. Defining niches and their personas will indeed be a welcome new tool to help your marketing content reflect the interests of your customers. This will go a long way to moving your buyers further down the sales cycle. I know personas have really given our campaigns a boost.

Remember we’ve created these personas to use as a guide to create marketing content that will be more engaging and relevant to our customers. Revisit your personas often and don’t be afraid to change and refine them as time goes by.

Much More…

As you know, calc{list} is much more than a way to create outlines. In fact, one way I’m going to use our new {Marketing Niches} list is to actually store and organize contact results from campaigns. This will take another post to fully explain but in effect I’ll be able to review and compare my personas to our marketing results.

A hint for you calc{list} experts: I can simply drop any list that our campaigns produce wherever it is relevant in the {Marketing Niches} list. Example: Place our {Email #1} list into both the {Lead Generation} and {IT Department} detail lists because this email addresses both of these persona issues.

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4 Responses to “{ How to Get Started with Persona-Based Marketing }”

  1. Ardath Albee Says:

    Thanks so much for the nice words about my book. I’m glad to see you found a valuable way to apply personas for your company. I like the way you’ve used your own product as a demonstration. Very cool!

  2. Bob Lancaster Says:

    Thanks Ardath and I hope our readers take the time to read your book!

  3. Arizona Social Media PR Agency Says:

    I usually don’t leave comments!!! Trust me! But I liked your blog…especially this post! Would you mind terribly if I put up a backlink from my site to your site?

  4. How Personas Can Help Sales and Marketing « Biz Owner Strategy Says:

    [...] are powerful sales and marketing tools, and Bob Lancaster recently posted a helpful article How to Get Started with Persona-Based Marketing. Bob points to a new book by Ardath Albee eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale. I’ve [...]

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