What are personas, and what do they mean for an agency’s marketing efforts?
It’s not a trade secret that the most effective advertising and marketing is highly personalized. An agency’s potential clients don’t just want to know what’s great about the agency’s products or services, they also want to know how it will help them specifically.
How does an agency personalize an initial pitch or a cold call, prior to really knowing the potential client’s specific needs?
It turns out that there is a much-needed step before beginning the process of personalizing pitches. This is where the concept of personas comes in.
Building a persona
PR agencies who work with clients in a variety of fields – including entertainment, travel, healthcare, and finance – don’t pitch the same way to all of those potential clients.
For example, when courting a prospective healthcare client, the pitch will typically demonstrate the agency’s knowledge and expertise in servicing the healthcare industry. The agency will follow suit with clients in entertainment, technology, and other industries.
This is actually the first step in building a persona. Though an agency may not know much about this potential client yet, it will know the types of things that its other healthcare clients care the most about. That knowledge can then be applied to form 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 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 the healthcare pitch.
Healthcare clients want to know what an agency has done – and what it can do – for other healthcare clients. Companies in the healthcare arena have a different target audience, attitude, way of interacting with clients, means of measuring satisfaction, engagement, and ROI than other types of companies.
Using both persona-ization and personalization
The difference between persona-ization and personalization is important. Personas are crafted with an eye toward the trends and demographics of the overall target market. On the other hand, paramount in personalization are the specific needs and wants of a particular client the agency is pitching.
It’s essential to understand that neither model will work for all possible clients all of the time. In fact, one leads into the other: Clients are drawn in by using personas, but they are kept close by personalizing.
Once a client is drawn in and the relationship built, it’s time to stop thinking in terms of personas. It’s too general a model, and its application will come across as less sincere, less targeted, and less relevant to the specific client.
Conversely, starting out following the highly personalized model won’t work, primarily because personal information about the client hasn’t been acquired yet.
Additionally, in terms of the agency’s workflow, it doesn’t make sense to begin with a pitch tailored to a specific client. In general, highly personalized content isn’t scalable. Maybe pieces of it will be, but not the entire pitch.
However, content that’s been crafted with personas is scalable – up until the point the race is won. The reason to use personas is that they’re translatable throughout the target market.
Utilize personas in the pitch. Take generalities picked up along the way about the persona this client most closely fits into, and exploit them to draw the client into the agency’s sphere. From there, start establishing rapport with this client, allowing interactions to be more and more personalized as their individual needs unfold.
A first step
While personalization remains the reigning king of marketing, utilizing personas is a great first step to get a foot in the door with potential clients.
It’s time to start weaving personas into the agency’s marketing to reach potential clients at all levels of the buyer’s journey.