The Customer Persona: Your Guiding Star for Direct Response Marketing Success

Person holding a star

When you’re writing a marketing message, developing a sales offer, or designing a piece of creative, who, exactly, are you creating it for? As marketers, we need to tailor our communications as tightly as possible to the specifications of our target audience so our offers adequately reach, resonate, and drive response.

Thankfully, there’s a handy tool—the customer persona—that can help your strategic and creative teams deliver effectively targeted messages and offers that convert. Let’s take a closer look at this guiding star of direct response creative success.

Inside the Customer Persona
Hubspot defines the customer persona, also called buyer persona, as “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.” He or she is the person your creative minds are trying to relate to, to speak to, to delight and persuade.

Easy enough concept to grasp, right? You’ve likely been working with a customer persona all along. But if you’ve never given him or her a name—or pinned down their demographic and psychographic traits and defined what makes them “tick”—you’ll find there’s a sort of magic in formalizing their persona.

You might enjoy learning about formalizing your brand’s personality in Creating A Brand Persona That Connects With Your Customers.

Creating a Customer Persona
In its most practical form, a customer persona lives on a one-page document clearly outlining details (as they pertain to your company and customers) related to or including:

  • Gender
  • Life Stage
  • Experience level
  • Goals
  • Success factors
  • Biggest influencer(s)
  • Pain points
  • Communication preferences

Basically, it’s everything a marketer needs or wants to know about a member of their target audience as they develop messaging, offers, and creative! The details that emerge help guide everything from word choice to media channel as your team decides how to best connect with individuals matching the persona’s preferences.

There are various ways to develop a customer persona, and most companies identify a handful of personas they want to establish. The easiest first step is to ask a sales manager or a rep from your product development team to describe their ideal customer. Who would they love to talk to in a sales call? Who are they developing their product for?

From there, it’s valuable to conduct primary research to home in on details and bring the persona(s) to life. Interviewing customers who match your target persona—asking probing questions and really listening to their responses—will tell you what you need to know about what’s important to them, how they make decisions, and what’s required to keep them happy as customers.

Exploring secondary research is also helpful to get a feel for marketplace trends that impact buying patterns and competitors’ activities. Knowledge of the greater marketplace, as a context for your persona(s), helps you understand where your offerings are positioned and how they may be perceived, purchased, and consumed.

Example: B2B Customer Persona
Here’s a simple example of a customer persona used by a company targeting human resources professionals for workplace training courses:

“Trainer Tracy” (include a photo of “Tracy”)
sample persona
Need some help developing, updating or adding personas? Contact us for assistance in delivering targeted, effective messages to your audience.