How to craft your buyer persona? Do it like Trump!
Despina Exadaktylou Tuesday, May 15, 2018
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How Trump, Facebook and a number of other tactics will make you master your buyer persona - without leaving a scandal on your trail.
You know him. You have heard all the weird stories about him and watched firsthand the questionable political practices he applies as the Ruler of the New World - as Americans love to call their leader.
Donald Trump is the 45th and current president of the United States of America. A personality so controversial as America itself. The most polarized president America has ever seen and elected - so far. Eccentric, extremely successful businessman, old-fashioned — if we judge by his sayings and actions so far— and what else? Hmmm….let me think. Oh yeah, with a very good taste when it comes to selecting his marketing team, in matters of results that is.
I will not take you down memory lane and mention to you all the handful of practices he used to get him where he is now. Not in this post, however. As an inbound marketer in its core though, I can’t escape myself and mention how much I admire how well he knew his audience and how to target it.
After all, any kind of ad execution whether or not it is part of a performance, content or growth marketing plan is just a means to an end and will not give you the desired leads or brand awareness you need IF YOU DON’T KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.
Let’s cut to the chase by having a good look at Trump’s campaign characteristics:
The target group (aka the buyer persona):
As any politician that comes with a strategy, Trump knew very well what kind of audience he would target. His campaign’s main message “Make America great again” was addressed to people feeling wronged by the state in terms of the life quality it was providing to them and their declining employment opportunities.
More specifically, this group consisted of strongly opinionated, politically active and non-educated men, whose employment rate has suffered a lot due to globalization, the dissolution of manufacturing employment and related factors. They were, without any doubt, the best group to carry his message towards mass adoption. So, by speaking directly to their values, he managed to take them by his side.
Persons aged between 25–34
They are not educated (source: “The Atlantic”)
Mid-to-low income (between 40–70k)
Interested in politics (44.06% reach)
Image Source: Cubeyou
Politically active conservatives
With a tendency to congregate with conservatives/Republicans networks (ForAmerica/ 195.14 Popularity)
Geographically diverse (Texas, Southern Florida, Southern California, Washington, Des Moines, Iowa, and the Northeastern seaboard)
Voter Turnout Trump vs Hillary. Source: Businessinsider
The means to the end: Facebook
Trump used, as a number of political candidates did, social media for his campaign’s execution- he had an extraordinary presence on Twitter too. Facebook was no doubt the platform he exploited the most and as “rumour” has it lately, one of the major means that got him elected. But as this article does not focus on the details of this scandal, let’s leave out the Russians and any details associated with it.
The hack behind it
The team focused on two factors regarding the platform’s advertising infrastructure. The Ads auction and the oldest trick in the book of Facebook advertising — or should I say growth hacking ?!?!?- Custom audiences - as Antonio Garcia Martinez mentions in his article on Wired.
How did he manage that? If you are not new to this, you most probably know that Facebook’s model in the ads auction charges both by considering the bid you submit and by how good a piece of clickbait your ad is considered to be. The better the projection of engagement your ad will have, the more expensive it will be.
An experienced marketer though can beat the system by publishing provocative content, as the one Trump used specifically to get social media buzz, to trigger the engagement loop the platform can offer real fast. The last ingredient you need to consider in an equation like that is the cost of the target audiences per geographical region - which in Trump’s case were cheaper than his competitors as most of his voters were not staying in urban locations.
Bear in mind here that the Newsfeed algorithm is based only on user engagement. Every user gets to see constantly the content he likes more optimized every single time so that he will engage again and again with it, ad infinitum.
Add all the factors above to the fact that Trump’s team used Facebook’s custom audiences (which included people with all the characteristics mentioned above) to reach effectively his voters and….Boom you just got yourself a new president!!!
Trump’s sample Facebook ad. Image source : Ukprogressive
The targeting message
It comes without surprise that the ads content was focused on social issues - something that makes sense if we consider its target group - regarding immigration and LGBT rights, as well as racial resentment against Blacks and Muslims. While the ads geographic targeting concerned certain regions of the United States (about 25% of them). That’s only the surface though.
Trump analysed its audience so well and made sure to exploit all the tactics necessary to make it faithful to him.
He learned his audience’s pain: The segment that constituted its voters were people struggling financially - middle-income, blue collar workers mostly that were seeing a loss in jobs and felt that the state has wronged them repeatedly.
He found a scapegoat to take the blame: In that case, the illegal immigrants living in the U.S.
He offered the solution: A simple, yet controversial as himself solution, that instantly relieved the pain of its target group.
He built a tremendous campaign about it based on emotional marketing: A campaign flooding the internet using as its big weapon Facebook and other social media.
The campaign’s benefits were multiple. Besides getting elected, Trump’s succeeded to raise the bulk of $250 million dollars as funding to his campaign and overall his 150,000 in total political ads had 10 million unique impressions.
Impressive right? Well yeah, as impressive as any campaign can be - always by not taking into consideration the budget spend which make the numbers for each campaign differ dramatically per case - WHEN YOU KNOW WHO TO TARGET!
Having that said, the point here is not to follow sleazy techniques to achieve your desired result but to get the logic behind the strategy. Marketing itself is not the big bad wolf of any story. Companies that try to exploit people’s emotions using the right tactics are. Tactics that appeal to emotions, as people always listen to them first, no matter the product or solution you provide them, and then to logic. So, bear this in mind while crafting the message you want to pass over to your target audience.
Buyer Persona aka your ideal customer
Now you know what a successful targeted campaign can offer to your business. You are ready to take it a step further and learn how you can master your lead generation campaigns by knowing your audience as well as Trump did, but without leaving a scandal in your trail.
There is only so much info out there to take you by the hand and show you the road to success. Don’t make the mistake of getting overwhelmed with questions popping up in your head like:
How will I attract my audience?
Do I know my audience as I should?
Is my product addressed to one or multiple audiences?
When you are still considered a startup, it’s an undeniable fact that your marketing budget is very limited or even worse it barely exists at this point. Here is where the need for campaigns targeted towards your ideal customer becomes a necessity. Let me be more clear, here is where it’s necessary to create your buyer persona(s).
Simply put by Hubspot “ A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.”
Before we dive into a persona’s characteristics, it would be wise to have a look at some interesting stats of companies that have actually taken advantage of its use :
Buyer Persona Statistics Chart
Also note that email campaigns using personas have twice the open rate and five times the click-through rate in comparison with those that don’t.
A persona’s characteristics can be but are not limited to:
✔️Basic demographic data
✔️Goals and challenges that can relate to each type of persona separately
✔️Personal values & interests
Some of the consequences your business will come to face in case you ignore building a persona is the following:
✔️Wrong choice of acquisition channels to promote your product
✔️You will misinform your customers when it comes to your products capabilities and usefulness
✔️Wrong campaign targeting
✔️In case you are building a list, you will end up having indifferent subscribers that will eventually hurt your product.
Crafting your persona
Your next steps will concern how to start creating your persona; you don’t need to employ Trump’s marketing team to do that, trust me. You only need to gather all the necessary data, find the suitable software to create it and/or the templates that will fit your needs better.
Why using a tool to create your persona, you will ask. Because if done manually as a process, persona creation can be exhausting if not chaotic. Furthermore, if you are new to this maybe it’s not very clear which steps you should follow to get your hands on all the evidence you need. A specialized tool will save you trouble by asking you to fill in the right data and allowing your team to contribute to this process too.
Buyer Persona Tools
A sample of those tools may be:
Xtensio allows you to enter all the necessary information to craft your persona like demographics, bio, motivation etc.
Xtensio sample persona template
3. McorpCX is a highly interactive platform which can map your personas to specific objects, organise your qualitative research data under each persona tab, and export your personas into PDF form for easy accessibility later on.
4. Userforge a free tool limited in comparison with Xtensio but still very effective when it comes to team collaboration
Accurate data is what makes your strategy go round and it constitutes the one single element that if interpreted wrong, it can harm your business. Coming back to the buyer persona’s formation there are two things that matter: Where your data comes from and how you can find them.
Sources of useful data may include:
Any kind of content you have on your website and they can engage with (videos, whitepapers, opt-in forms etc.)
Your sales department (calls, meetings, live sales demos)
Your customer success department (customer surveys, customer feedback, follow up calls, live chat feedback etc.)
Social media data
Competition research & mapping: knowing your competitor’s customer — especially when it is a direct one — equals knowing yours.
Market research and segmentation
Data & demographics of your existing customers in case you didn’t just launch your product
Tools you can use to get your data:
Google Analytics: to get data on your users’ behaviour, demographics and pretty much any single action they realize while on your website. Don’t forget to set the necessary goals that will match your KPI’s too.
CRM and marketing automation platforms: A number of automation platforms like Hubspot, Act-on, Mailchimp and a number of CRM automation tools like Close.io, Hubspot CRM and Pipedrive enable you to track your users’ behaviour in every single action they complete. So now you can do any kind of segmentation you need for anyone who interacts with your site and better design your customer journey.
Facebook audience insights: To find a number of different data categories from people that are part of the Facebook community, your page’s followers and from custom audiences. Data categories may include age and gender, education, relationship status, household size, lifestyle, buying behaviour and methods.
Sample Facebook Insights dashboard
1. Intercom: This may sound biased but if you are a SaaS owner or into e-commerce, 9 out of 10 times it’s possible that you use intercom for customer success actions, on page or in app promotions and live chat. Some of the analytics the tools offers are extensive user segmentation, visualization of key metrics, a way to turn your conversations into tangible insights, etc.
2. Facebook Chatbot: Alternate way to get consumer data would be to install the Facebook chatbot on your website or create one for your Facebook page too.
3. Google Consumer Barometer : In case you want to level up your research and find consumer data related to Internet usage. By using the Google Barometer you can track your users’ behaviour across different screens — for major geographic regions, consumer segments and product segments. You can find a detailed guide of how to use it here.
5. Any other analytics you can get from the current automation tools you use. Examples can include social media monitoring tools, heatmaps, related plugins etc.
Buyer Persona Templates
There are just not enough templates out there for you to get your hands on. Think of them as a map filling its paths step by step. You most probably will not need them if you use a tool like those mentioned above. It would be wise to use them though if you want to compare your existing model with another one and/or want to A/B test which one fits your needs best.
You will not find an ideal template in the traditional sense of the term. You get to choose how much detailed your persona should be. Although, I must admit to you there is no ending point, as your personalization and segmentation techniques will only be perfected when you get to know every single tiny detail of your persona.
You can find a number of custom persona templates in the presentation below:
Exhaustive Collection of buyer personas templates
Please embed this link → Buyer persona templates
Wrapping it up
Finding the right audience to direct your product does not come easy. Furthermore, it does not come without pain either. The current industry landscape is more than competitive. There are thousands, if not millions of brands out there exhausting every means they can in order to get their product on the surface. Some of them are established, some use sleaze techniques, like Trump, while others have managed both to target the audience they should and provide an answer to their pain.
No matter what you do and how amazing the solution you provide is, always remember that your strategy has to put a tick mark next to two different issues:
To manage to answer your audience’s pain point and speak to their emotions too, not only their logic
Finding the right mechanisms to map your ideal persona that will keep evolving over time the same way your product will.
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