David Meyer

A Persona Can’t Drive Your Car (but they can drive your business)

As we set up clients’ marketing automation programs, we’ve found that many are confused by creating personas. “How is it different than my target market?” Personas aren’t different; they’re better.

A target market is like an x-ray; a persona is an MRI. They’re better defined, and they’re based on more data. The purpose is to better understand the buyer and narrow the gap between their expectations and companies’ ability to deliver.

According to a report by McKinsey only 6% of companies surveyed understand customer needs extremely well. 6%! While this is certainly linked to high customer acquisition costs and low customer retention, we’ll save that topic for another day.

Knowing your customers (yes, you have different types of buyers and influencers) is paramount to crafting effective communication to them. You’ve got to understand their point-of-view and needs if you’re going to speak to them on their terms. Otherwise: delete, close window, hang up, throw it in the trash. Buyers are bombarded with marketing messages; if yours doesn’t speak directly to their needs, you don’t have a chance.

Industry leader Tony Zambito describes personas as “research-based archetypal (modeled) representations of who buyers are, what they’re trying to accomplish, what goals drive their behavior,  how they think, howthey buy, and why they make buying decisions.”

They’re simply fictional representations of buyers based on actual buying data. Fictionalizing them enables you to better relate to your buyers as individuals with real problems and motivations. Understand what keeps them from buying. What are their concerns and fears? What buying experience do they want? Do they need a lot of hand-holding and reassurance, are they price shoppers, or do they know what they want and will buy at any price?

Data is imperative, and not just women 25-34 with a household income of $95,000. What’s their education level? Do they have hobbies? How do they prefer to be communicated to? How do they vote? Dig deeper, conduct customer surveys and interviews, dive into your site analytics and CRM. The patterns are there if you simply look.

Here’s an example. Let’s say your company sells very high-end dog food tailored to the needs of older animals.

Rebecca Sanderson

Rebecca is a married stay-at-home-mom with two kids that both attend public, suburban schools. Their dog, Peety, has been the family pet for ten years and lately has been having trouble walking up the stairs, and doesn’t seem to have the energy he once did. Rebecca and her family are very emotionally attached to Peety, and treat him like a member of the household. The kids fight over whose bed the dog sleeps in.

While the family doesn’t have a ton of disposable income, Rebecca won’t hesitate to pay a little extra for food/supplements for Peety, aside from being ‘family,’ she views taking care of him a lesson for her kids about kindness and respect. She’s tried a few different products, and none has made a noticeable difference; some have even upset Peety’s stomach.

She goes to the dog park often, and her friend told her about your product. She’s seen the ads but is skeptical. She called her vet for her opinion and was told that ‘there’s a lot of new science out there, and foods are improving, but there are no guarantees. Some foods work for some dogs better than others.’

Remember, these personas aren’t written in stone. As you learn more, they will change (for the better). Redefining and refining will only improve your results in the long-term.

Once your personas are defined, you can better target potential customers in the manner that they want to be communicated to. You should also tailor messages for where they are in the Buyer’s Journey to generate and nurture leads. If you are wondering ‘what in the world is a Buyer’s Journey?’, then keep an eye out for our next blog to learn more!

We’d love to help you define your personas and determine paths to communicate with them. Give us a ring!

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David Meyer


There are a lot of great story-tellers, but there aren’t enough story-understanders. When clients have trouble explaining a new value proposition, David can name that tune in fewer words than they imagined possible. When prospects come to us with a symptom, David asks the (sometimes hard) questions that get to the root of the problem. Then he solves it. After decades in account management and creative roles, David is able to bridge the gap between creatives and clients (and back). Oh, and he can tell stories, too.

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