Aug 06, 2018 / in Comms Best Practices / by Aaron Searle

Carl Jung defined his concept of the persona as “a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and on the other to conceal the true nature of the individual.” (From his 1953 book Two Essays on Analytical Psychology)

We still use the word persona today, albeit in a slightly different way. That said, let’s take a look at what Personas are, and what they mean for your marketing efforts.

Taking a Step Back from Personalization

We already know that the most effective type of advertising and marketing is highly personalized. Your potential clients don’t just want to know what’s great about your product or service — they want to know how it will help them specifically.

What about your initial pitch, though? What about those cold calls, that first meeting, your two minutes to shine in an elevator?

When you haven’t had the opportunity to get to know a potential new client for your agency, it can be mighty difficult to personalize your pitch and your content for them.

It turns out that there’s a much-needed step before we can begin personalizing our pitches. This is where Personas come in. (We might even call this “persona-ization,” if you like.)

Building a Persona

Perhaps you’re a PR agency who works with clients in a variety of fields — entertainment, travel, healthcare, finance, what-have-you. Good job on your diversity! Surely you don’t pitch the same way to all of those potential clients, though — do you?

If you’re courting a prospective healthcare client, you need to pitch yourself and your services as being well-versed in the healthcare industry specifically. Same with entertainment, technology, etc.

This is actually the first step in building a persona. Though you may not know much about this individual potential client yet, you know the types of things that your other healthcare clients care the most about, right? You then take that knowledge and begin forming a healthcare persona.

  • What are the trends of the healthcare industry?
  • How do other healthcare companies handle their marketing?
  • Who is being reached by current marketing efforts? Who is not being reached?
  • Which of your campaigns for other healthcare clients have been successful? What made them work?

Answering these questions (and others like them) helps to understand the healthcare persona — which, in turn, shapes your healthcare pitch.

If you’re telling Dr. Joe’s Health Care about the great work you just did for Mom & Pop Travel Agency, well … that doesn’t necessarily translate. Sure, it might translate in your mind. Marketing is marketing, isn’t it?

Yeah, sort of. To you and me, maybe.

But that’s not how clients see it. They need to know what you have done – and what you can do – for a healthcare client specifically. Healthcare companies have a different target audience, a different attitude, a different way of interacting with clients, a different means of measuring satisfaction, engagement and ROI.

You need to utilize Personas in your pitch. Take these generalities that you’ve picked up along the way about the persona this client most closely fits into, and exploit them to draw the client into your sphere. From there, you can start establishing rapport with this client, allowing your interactions with them to be more and more personalized as you come to understand their individual needs.

Using Both “Persona-ization” AND Personalization

The difference between “persona-ization” and personalization is important. We craft Personas by taking into account the trends and demographics of our overall target market. We build up personalization by getting into the specific needs and wants of this one particular client who is in front of us right now.

The trick here is that neither will work for all possible clients all of the time. In fact, one leads into the other.

Simply put: We draw clients in by using personas, then we keep them close by personalizing.

Once you’ve already drawn them in and built up your relationship with them, it’s time to stop using Personas with them. It will come across as less sincere, less targeted, less relevant to them individually.

Conversely, starting out highly personalized won’t necessarily work out for you, either – mostly because you can’t be that personal with a client you haven’t worked with yet. Further, even when you’re at that personal point and have crafted a great pitch for this client, that same pitch isn’t going to be particularly translatable to the next client. (Pieces of it? Sure, maybe. But certainly not the entirety of it.) This is because highly personalized content isn’t scalable.

Content that’s been crafted with personas, though? This is scalable through and through ‘til the race is won – which is precisely the point. The whole deal with using personas is that it’s translatable throughout the target market.

As we can see, though personalization is still the reigning king of marketing, utilizing Personas is that great first step which gets our foot in the door with clients.  

And if you’re still struggling with crafting personas for your business, check out John Lincoln’s fantastic blog 6 Golden Rules for Creating Marketing Personas in the New Digital World, or dive in to your CRM platform – such as Salesforce, which has an entire user category and video series on personas – to help you along.

However you get the job done, it’s time to start weaving personas into your marketing to help you reach potential clients at all levels of the buyer’s journey.

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About Aaron Searle

Aaron Searle is a PR Newswire senior customer content specialist. He's worked in various sales, marketing and PR jobs over the past 10 years, and works to bring an organic approach to all of his work and his writing, whether personal or professional.