How many times have you cringed at a marketing or ad proposal that targets “moms who want to delight their children”? Or can there possibly be one more article on how to market to “today’s millennial”?
In marketing and advertising, personas help us define who we’re selling to and in turn, guide us in creating the right kind of messaging to reach our target audiences. But many personas are based on a handful of vague attributes like age and marital status. “Soccer mom” emerged during the 1996 presidential election when Bill Clinton was accused by his opponent, Bob Dole, of targeting busy moms who cart their children to their sports activities. But personas like this don’t really help us understand and connect with consumers on a deeper level.
It’s time to throw out personas we’ve been using for the last 20 years that are simply based on vague demographics like gender and number of children, and start fresh with personas that are more detailed, accurate and paint a more complete picture of the consumer.
OUT WITH THE OLD PERSONA
We’ve all been guilty of using generational personas. The whole idea that people born within a certain date range could have all of the same traits is a fairly new thing, perpetrated by advertising, marketing and media.
We often think of millennials as being uber tech savvy and loyal sharing economy consumers. We label baby boomers as being leery of online shopping and loyal consumers of traditional media. We think of Generation X, once referred to as “slackers,” as being heavily focused on finances as they juggle children headed to college and aging parents. And finally, there’s generation z, who has completely grown up with technology and is heavily guided by online influencers.
The danger in creating messages geared to a whole generation is that you ignore people in this same age bracket who don’t have the same traits. For example, the common misperception about millennials is that they’re all single, young, unmarried and only rent apartments. But this misses a whole segment of people who fit in this same generation but are actually married with children and own a home.
A consumer insights platform can serve as an important tool for agencies in developing a deeper understanding of their client’s customers. Resonate distills what we call the Human Element. This is a holistic understanding of a person that starts with what makes us the most human—our values and motivations.
Personas are brought to life with the Resonate Human Element. It helps agencies provide dimension to their personas and ensure engagement that delivers performance for clients. For example, let’s look at the person who buys North Face products, which are geared to “athletes and the modern-day explorer,” according to the company’s website. We can assume that the North Face consumer’s top hobbies are hiking, camping and other outdoorsy activity. But Resonate’s dynamic insights paint a different picture. This segment actually spends their free time trading stocks, visiting spas and resorts and going to the movies. And they’re only 12% more likely than the overall U.S. population to spend their time hiking and camping. So when you’re developing messaging for a brand that sells outdoor active gear, think twice about turning to the traditional “hiker” persona—these folks are more indoorsy than outdoorsy.
Now let’s look at the working mom. You might assume her personal decisions, including working outside of the home, are driven by a desire to prove her competence and skills and getting recognition from peers. But Resonate’s consumer insights show working moms care even less about those attributes than the average U.S. consumer. Their everyday decisions are actually driven by living an exciting life and creativity.
BETTER PERSONAS LEAD TO BETTER RESULTS
Modern personas are about connecting with consumers in more meaningful ways. Connecting with people starts with understanding them at a personal level. Creating more accurate personas based on these actual person-level insights brings tremendous value to agencies in a number of ways:
- RELEVANT OUTREACH: With more detailed and accurate personas, you can develop more targeted messaging that resonates with your client’s target audiences. Agencies using the Resonate Platform have already seen significant reduction in CPA costs.
- STRONG CLIENT PITCHES: Imagine pitching your client with a completely new take on their personas. Show them that their existing personas can be enriched and expanded based on continuously updated and more accurate insights. Plus, the time spent doing research for client pitches drops from weeks to hours using the Resonate Platform.
- BETTER OUTCOMES: Taking a more personalized approach to target audiences rather than a broad brush based only on a few attributes will help you create unbreakable relationships between your clients and their customers. Agencies are seeing a 32% increase in return on advertising spend (ROAS) compared to alternative data sources.
- EXPANDED STRATEGY AND BRANDING: When you know your client and what makes their customers tick, you can give better advice about everything from media strategy and creative to product packaging and its charitable mission.
Agencies are competing against more players like consulting firms and smaller, more nimble shops and dealing with major industry shifts like new pay structures and more privacy regulations. Being able to offer clients a new view of personas can be the key differentiator.
THE WAY TO ACHIEVE MORE ACCURATE PERSONAS
Resonate’s easy-to-use SaaS platform provides a unified view of the consumer. It’s continuously updated, so personas evolve to adapt to peoples’ dynamic lives.
With this level of accuracy and timeliness, agencies can build personas that consist of real-time attributes, rather than static demographics. The Resonate Platform also helps provide insights into the several layers that make up a human, from the top actions they take every day to their psychological drivers.
So yes, it’s not surprising that a working mom buys most of her groceries online to save time and prefers retailers with loyalty programs. But there’s a lot more to her shopping behaviors. For example, they’re also 32% more likely than the average consumer to shop online and then pick up in store. And they’re big Black Friday shoppers but stay away from Cyber Monday and Amazon’s Prime Day.
There are several layers to humans, making it vital to tap into the Human Element to help frame more relevant personas. So can we once and for all stop with the “soccer mom”? She’s moved on and we should too.
Hear more on relevant and fresh personas in my recent webinar with AdWeek: “Uncover the Human Element of Data Targeting: Go Beyond Cardboard Personas.”
Want to wow your clients at the next pitch meeting with a better understanding of their actual personas? Let us show you how.