The Beginner’s Guide to Targeted Messaging

speaking to the persona on the other side

“So, let me ask you this, ‘What persona are you speaking to with your marketing efforts?’”

There’s a dead silence on the other end of the line, before, “Well, my clients have an average of $500,000 in investable assets and are rapidly approaching retirement.”

When marketers talk about personas, it’s a much more complex idea than you may think. It’s not just a “who is your client” question, but a “why are they your client,” a “what language do they prefer to use,” and a “how to serve ads to them on social media” question.

If you haven’t drawn up profiles for your target personas, your messaging could be missing the mark.

What are personas, and why do they matter?

Picture this: Countdown-to-Retirement Calvin and his wife Cathy are ready to start focusing on their retirement now that their youngest has moved out. They are aware that there will be a transition period away from life as they currently know it, but are otherwise looking forward to the freedom of retirement. They are somewhat knowledgeable on financial matters, but would prefer to pay a professional to take care of it for them.

Sound familiar? Chances are that a good portion of your clients have a similar story. You are accustomed to the questions that they ask, and can even anticipate what Calvin and Cathy need before they know it themselves.

But does everyone on your team know what you do? Does your sales team know that 75% of Calvin-types love sounding smart in front of their golf buddies, and that a targeted “smart financial tips” content campaign could be a perfect strategy to get in front of more Calvins? Does the person running your social media know that Cathy cares more about influencer marketing than financial health videos?

That is what personas are about. They are fictionalized profiles that group together types of people and interactions to make it easier to tailor messaging, content, and services so that everyone on your team speaks to clients and prospects in exactly the right tone.

Beware the Negative Persona

And when I say “right,” I mean that you can encourage ideal clients and discourage less-than ideal clients. Honestly, not everyone is the right fit for your company. In fact, it could save you a ton of time and grief avoiding some types altogether.

It happens in every business in every industry. These are known in marketing as negative personas. Examples of a negative persona could include

  • Someone with a high CPA (cost per acquisition, or how much money you spend to attract, nurture and close the client relationship) and low lifetime value
  • Researchers that have no interest in becoming a customer, like competitive advisors, students or DIYers

When you start to compile your persona profiles, it will help your team identify how much effort to spend (or not spend) on each acquisition.

Real information for real actions

Just because personas are fictionalized does not mean that these profiles are hypothetical. In fact, the best, most useful personas combine your personal experience with marketing research. That can be anything from industry-sponsored data to information you collect on your website.

For example, if you structure your persona list based on company size, make sure that “Company Size” is a required field on all the forms on your pages. Over time, you’ll be able to see which personas fill out which forms on which pages.

And once you have a real set of information to work with, your communications can become increasingly targeted. You can send different emails to different personas that speak to their specific interest. It gives your entire client base the impression that you’re looking out for their needs, when in reality you don’t have time to send 5000 personalized emails.

Creating a comprehensive persona roster can save you time, money, and go a long way in building relationships. Depending on your business and services you can have as few as two and as many as 20; the key is to build them out according to what’s important to you as a business owner.

Now that you understand what personas are and how to use them, are you ready to start creating a series of profiles of your own? Stay tuned for our next post, where we’ll walk you through our Marketing Persona Worksheet.