The Persona Building Game - Why Traditional Marketers Are Losing
Experienced marketers all know what a persona is and generally, why and how we go about creating them. But more often than not, that process is flawed and ultimately useless when it comes to properly creating personas in the digital age.
Brands spend millions of pounds researching their current and potential customers in order to create a segment of the consumer population that best fits their ‘target persona’. This sounds like a brilliant strategy, but marketers tend to focus on the wrong data. If you target customers based solely on demographics, income and the socio-economic demographic of your sales history, you begin to lose sight of the fact that similar people buy the same thing - but for wildly different reasons.
By researching personas based purely on demographics and numbers, your marketing department will naturally segment consumers into categories that may look good on paper, but in reality, aren’t very effective. What is missing here are the individual motivators to purchase, consumer emotions and buying habits - the things that really matter when it comes to pleasing current customers and attracting new ones.
Building personas and defining a brand’s target consumers has become far too much of a tick-box exercise. Where do you live? How old are you? What is your household income?
We can segment consumers until we are blue in the face, but none of that work will be any good until marketers start asking the really important question…
Why? Why do consumers do what they do?
Instead of categorising personas based on demographics and data, why not segment them based on their motivations, their personalities and their emotional motivators? This is a far more successful way to market, especially when you consider that emotion trumps logic every time when it comes to purchasing.
Consumers are emotional and irrational human beings - not faceless users and numbers. So marketers need to start thinking of consumers as humans, not the results of market research, and highlight the emotional drivers at play.
The sooner you can change the way your brand starts thinking about consumers, the sooner you can start effectively marketing to them and design for them.
Read more about designing for the emotional consumer.
One of the biggest mistakes marketers make when segmenting consumers is forgetting to put consumer emotions into context. They forget about a consumer’s values, motives, and behaviours in terms of contextual processes, emotional processes and rational processes.
They forget that consumers can have fundamentally different motives within one segment of a target audience.
For example, a major UK property company had previously segmented first time home buyers and first time renters into the same category simply because they have the same demographics. But after changing the way they thought about consumers - by thinking about their emotions and motivators throughout the customer journey - the same property company saw that the intrinsic motivations of first time home buyers were entirely different than first time renters. That company immediately changed the way they categorized their consumers and how they built their personas - and the messaging followed suit.
As marketers, the best thing we can do for our brands is to step out of the box and stop relying on old models. Remember that consumers aren’t as predictable as we used to think - they are sophisticated, emotionally-driven individuals who will be loyal to the brands who start treating them as such.
There is a range of emotional drivers at play, so in order to stay in the game, start including research into psychology and emotions into your persona-building exercises and marketing strategy.
Neuromarketing provides fantastic tools to start changing your brand’s persona-building model and marketing strategy, so either educate your marketing team on how to use neuromarketing principles or hire an agency who specialises in it.
Trust us, the brands with a better understanding of human behaviour are the brands that are currently leading their industries - and will continue to.
If you want to know more about creating personas in the digital age, or if you want to talk to Lab about how neuromarketing can help your brand, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 0207 183 6668.