Chapter 2

The Psychology Driving Purchase Decisions

Emotion may be the driving force behind a large part of all customer purchase decisions, but data should still be used to understand a consumer’s behavior. Research by Forrester Consulting and FocusVision shows that the way customers feel about a brand has a 1.5x higher impact on results than the way they think. This provides a new understanding of how people approach decision-making, and it has implications for many areas of business, including marketing. Getting your target customer to “feel” the emotions that will lead him (or her) to buy is the basis of market segmentation and the reason you need powerful buyer personas around which to build your marketing strategies.

Segmentation can help you to create custom marketing options for each consumer group, based on their specific attributes. Within the broader concept of segmentation, you can use micro-segmentation to break down your audience into smaller groups, and in those groups you can personalize your communications to reach customers who have specific needs and wants.

The Concept of the Persona

A persona is a fictional character that reflects your ideal customer, who they are, what they look like, and what they need or want. While the persona is portrayed as a particular person, it isn’t a real individual, but a combination of all the qualities your ideal client would have. Personas aren’t written in stone; they need to be reviewed periodically. If you find the data supports it, you can edit personas to match the newest information.

The History of Personas

It can be argued that the concept of the persona was first developed by Carl Jung when he formed the 12 archetypes. Jung believed that every person should fall into one of the archetypes based on their overarching life goal and what they do to bring this desire of theirs to fruition. The idea in using these archetypes in marketing is that if a customer can connect with a brand because they are a part of the same archetype, then the customer should trust the brand and its messaging, and want to listen to what you have to say.

Later, in 1998, Alan Cooper published a book called “The Inmates are Running the Asylum,” which spoke to the idea of UX personas. When he was designing a project management software program (which eventually formed the base of Microsoft Project), Cooper interviewed several potential users for their input. Extensive conversations with a woman named Kathy led to making her the typical user for the program — in effect, his first UX persona personality. [2]

Cooper writes in his journal how he then applied the same method to other programs he developed. At one point, he became frustrated with trying to identify the most important features of a program for users and asked to meet the customers. After a few interviews with users, clear patterns emerged that led to the creation of Chuck, Cynthia, and Rob—his first real, named examples of personas.

Segments vs. Cohorts vs. Personas

In marketing speak, we often use the terms segments, cohorts, and personas interchangeably, but in reality they have different meanings. While all three are abstract concepts describing people, they apply to different levels of identity:

Segment

This is a grouping of people with similar attributes based on any set of rules. Marketers use segments to distinguish between different groupings of customers, which allows them to target their communications at the needs and wants of each group. When developing customer segments, it’s helpful to have data about what motivates prospects and customers, and how best to reach them, although this may be a struggle if, for instance, a segment of your audience is those who walk into your store on a rainy day.

Cohort

A cohort in the marketing space applies to a group of customers who share a particular experience or event. The group is typically made up of several different personas, many of whom might have other qualities that overlap various market segments, but they are targeted as a single group because of shared criteria. For example, men between the ages of 34 and 55 are a broad demographic grouping. Those men in the group who online shop for big and tall during the same timeframe because their favorite brick and mortar stores don’t carry their sizing would represent a cohort.

Persona

The definition of personas is a character profile that represents groups of customers who share similar attitudes, values, and desires regarding a specific product or service. They provide a deeper understanding of the profile’s needs, wants, behaviors, attitudes, and motivations. When personas are set up correctly, they can cut across segments and unify them into fewer target groups. This makes marketing easier to personalize.

Segments, cohorts, and personas are all helpful marketing tools, but they’re used differently and at different stages of marketing. Segments come into play early in the process, while personas are usually subsets of segments. Cohorts are very precise groupings used in cases where extreme “drilling down” is warranted.

Reasons to Use Personas

There are many reasons it’s important to know who you are marketing to, which include getting your message heard and reaching your target audience in an effective way. Using personas gives marketers a very specific idea of exactly who they are talking to when they create items of content. Some of the reasons why using personas works are:

Creating empathy: The process of creating a persona helps companies develop empathy for the “real” people who are going to use their product. It enables you to understand your users, the scenarios they face, their goals and frustrations, in a way that drives the development of content that addresses all those issues directly.

Developing focus: Having a clear, target persona helps marketers define who their product is created for, and who to avoid focusing on. For products that have several types of users, the development of a list of personas will help prioritize which users are more important to the company’s success than others.

Measuring marketing effectiveness: By creating empathy and developing focus, personas help marketers defend the decisions they make and to measure the effectiveness of their marketing.

The use of personas offers a far more reliable and scientific method of marketing than the “guess and check” option. This might work fine for solving math problems, but in marketing, it can be expensive if your first few guesses turn out to be wrong.
It’s important to base your development of personas on data, not assumptions, to get the most accurate results.

Types of Personas

You get different types of customer personas, but it’s important for marketers to differentiate between the buyer persona and the audience persona. Both are customer personas, but the first is someone who is genuinely considering buying your product or service. The second is a prospect interested in consuming your content. The buyer persona might well overlap with the audience persona and vice versa, but you can’t assume they are the same. For that reason, you should treat them differently.

Creating personas forces you to segment your audience, because each persona reflects one or more of the interests, demographics, challenges, personalities, and objectives of your market. Segmentation targeting using personas helps to predict the demand for a product or service, which allows you to create marketing campaigns that speak to their pain points.

Chapter 2

The Psychology Driving Purchase Decisions

Emotion may be the driving force behind a large part of all customer purchase decisions, but data should still be used to understand a consumer’s behavior. Research by Forrester Consulting and FocusVision shows that the way customers feel about a brand has a 1.5x higher impact on results than the way they think. This provides a new understanding of how people approach decision-making, and it has implications for many areas of business, including marketing. Getting your target customer to “feel” the emotions that will lead him (or her) to buy is the basis of market segmentation and the reason you need powerful buyer personas around which to build your marketing strategies.

Segmentation can help you to create custom marketing options for each consumer group, based on their specific attributes. Within the broader concept of segmentation, you can use micro-segmentation to break down your audience into smaller groups, and in those groups you can personalize your communications to reach customers who have specific needs and wants.

The Concept of the Persona

A persona is a fictional character that reflects your ideal customer, who they are, what they look like, and what they need or want. While the persona is portrayed as a particular person, it isn’t a real individual, but a combination of all the qualities your ideal client would have. Personas aren’t written in stone; they need to be reviewed periodically. If you find the data supports it, you can edit personas to match the newest information.

The History of Personas

It can be argued that the concept of the persona was first developed by Carl Jung when he formed the 12 archetypes. Jung believed that every person should fall into one of the archetypes based on their overarching life goal and what they do to bring this desire of theirs to fruition. The idea in using these archetypes in marketing is that if a customer can connect with a brand because they are a part of the same archetype, then the customer should trust the brand and its messaging, and want to listen to what you have to say.

Later, in 1998, Alan Cooper published a book called “The Inmates are Running the Asylum,” which spoke to the idea of UX personas. When he was designing a project management software program (which eventually formed the base of Microsoft Project), Cooper interviewed several potential users for their input. Extensive conversations with a woman named Kathy led to making her the typical user for the program — in effect, his first UX persona personality. [2]

Cooper writes in his journal how he then applied the same method to other programs he developed. At one point, he became frustrated with trying to identify the most important features of a program for users and asked to meet the customers. After a few interviews with users, clear patterns emerged that led to the creation of Chuck, Cynthia, and Rob—his first real, named examples of personas.

Segments vs. Cohorts vs. Personas

In marketing speak, we often use the terms segments, cohorts, and personas interchangeably, but in reality they have different meanings. While all three are abstract concepts describing people, they apply to different levels of identity:

Segment

This is a grouping of people with similar attributes based on any set of rules. Marketers use segments to distinguish between different groupings of customers, which allows them to target their communications at the needs and wants of each group. When developing customer segments, it’s helpful to have data about what motivates prospects and customers, and how best to reach them, although this may be a struggle if, for instance, a segment of your audience is those who walk into your store on a rainy day.

Cohort

A cohort in the marketing space applies to a group of customers who share a particular experience or event. The group is typically made up of several different personas, many of whom might have other qualities that overlap various market segments, but they are targeted as a single group because of shared criteria. For example, men between the ages of 34 and 55 are a broad demographic grouping. Those men in the group who online shop for big and tall during the same timeframe because their favorite brick and mortar stores don’t carry their sizing would represent a cohort.

Persona

The definition of personas is a character profile that represents groups of customers who share similar attitudes, values, and desires regarding a specific product or service. They provide a deeper understanding of the profile’s needs, wants, behaviors, attitudes, and motivations. When personas are set up correctly, they can cut across segments and unify them into fewer target groups. This makes marketing easier to personalize.

Segments, cohorts, and personas are all helpful marketing tools, but they’re used differently and at different stages of marketing. Segments come into play early in the process, while personas are usually subsets of segments. Cohorts are very precise groupings used in cases where extreme “drilling down” is warranted.

Reasons to Use Personas

There are many reasons it’s important to know who you are marketing to, which include getting your message heard and reaching your target audience in an effective way. Using personas gives marketers a very specific idea of exactly who they are talking to when they create items of content. Some of the reasons why using personas works are:

Creating empathy: The process of creating a persona helps companies develop empathy for the “real” people who are going to use their product. It enables you to understand your users, the scenarios they face, their goals and frustrations, in a way that drives the development of content that addresses all those issues directly.

Developing focus: Having a clear, target persona helps marketers define who their product is created for, and who to avoid focusing on. For products that have several types of users, the development of a list of personas will help prioritize which users are more important to the company’s success than others.

Measuring marketing effectiveness: By creating empathy and developing focus, personas help marketers defend the decisions they make and to measure the effectiveness of their marketing.

The use of personas offers a far more reliable and scientific method of marketing than the “guess and check” option. This might work fine for solving math problems, but in marketing, it can be expensive if your first few guesses turn out to be wrong.
It’s important to base your development of personas on data, not assumptions, to get the most accurate results.

Types of Personas

You get different types of customer personas, but it’s important for marketers to differentiate between the buyer persona and the audience persona. Both are customer personas, but the first is someone who is genuinely considering buying your product or service. The second is a prospect interested in consuming your content. The buyer persona might well overlap with the audience persona and vice versa, but you can’t assume they are the same. For that reason, you should treat them differently.

Creating personas forces you to segment your audience, because each persona reflects one or more of the interests, demographics, challenges, personalities, and objectives of your market. Segmentation targeting using personas helps to predict the demand for a product or service, which allows you to create marketing campaigns that speak to their pain points.

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