In the world of marketing, the idea of user personas has been gaining steady traction. As we move away from traditional pushy, outbound marketing and embrace the ideals of less-intrusive pull-based inbound marketing, user or buyer personas grow in stature.
User Personas are fictional descriptions of a few different profiles of your typical users, based on research and conversations with prospective buyers. They help you understand your users better and are important tools when tailoring the message of your brand. (see some examples: here)
The concept of understanding your customer is not new. In the banking world, for instance, KYC or Know Your Customer has been emphasized for years and embraced by sales and client services teams. User Persona takes this concept one step further and builds a detailed demographic and behavioral profile of your ideal customer types.
While established brands have the deep resources and marketing teams in place for conducting this exercise, startups don’t have the luxury of either. When you’re bootstrapping and chasing after those pesky investors or running from pillar to post to get those crucial first users, who has the time to build a user persona, right? Wrong. It is in fact crucial for startups to build user personas. Here are 5 reasons why:
- Identify your target market – Building a User Persona helps a startup clearly identify its target market, no matter what stage of launch it’s in. In my work consulting startups, I’ve come across instances where an entrepreneur has a hunch of what the target market is but after going through the exercise of creating user personas, many assumptions have been revealed as untrue. User personas also help to segment the market and zero in on the target whose needs are best catered by your product. For example, a hyper-local startup I advised had been looking at a wide demographic profile of 25-45 year olds as their target customer but after building user personas, they realized that the young parent sub-segment was a key target for them. Sometimes, this exercise may unearth new target segments that a startup may not even have considered.
- Understand your target market – Once a target market has been identified, user personas play a crucial role in understanding this target market. In addition to demographic details, a user persona includes role, behavior such as shopping preferences, social media habits, motivation, goals and challenges. All of this paints a picture of your typical user that will help not only your startup’s marketing efforts but also your sales.
- Shape your product or service offering – With this goldmine of information, a startup is uniquely positioned to shape its product or service offering to better cater to the needs of its target buyers. A big brand does not have the agility or product flexibility that a startup has.
- Lead generation – A marketing strategy that is based on well researched user personas, and defined customer decision journeys will result in higher lead generation. After identifying your target market, understanding their goals and challenges and shaping your service accordingly, your startup will have a much more precise sense of which channels to use for lead generation – be it email campaigns, social media marketing, PR, or SEO/SEM.
- Content creation – I started this article by talking about inbound marketing and content is an integral component of inbound marketing. 86% of all B2B marketers and 77% of all B2C marketers use content marketing as a core strategy to generate leads and achieve growth. The process of creating and distributing content is much better served by creating user personas. Once you’ve understood the motivations, goals, challenges and habits of your users and prospective users, you can build content that is designed to address these goals. Your content will now be much more effective and will convert at a higher rate.
In conclusion, whether your startup is yet to launch or is in its early stages of growth, devote time now to create user personas and reap the rewards for a long time to come.
About the Author
Swati Bhoumick is a marketing consultant advising startups on creative effective marketing strategies, content creation, lead generation and social media marketing. Swati has over 10 years of experience in Marketing in Asia and the United States. She can be reached on [email protected] or on twitter @swatibhoumick