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Persona marketing helps organizations get closer to their audiences through personalized content.

During the National Apartment Association’s (NAA) student-housing event, CampusConnex, I joined Kristi Fickert of 30 Lines to present a session on persona marketing. We discussed how this personalized approach can deepen a customized resident acquisition strategy to ensure you’re messaging the right ideas to the right groups. Here’s a quick overview of what we shared:

What are personas?
Personas are data-driven customer definitions that allow organizations to create profiles and pathways for a curated, personalized experience. They help deliver the right message, at the right time, to the right group of people.

In the rental housing industry, for example, it’s all about “heads in beds,” but what student housing communities ultimately foster are important experiences for their residents. Personas allow organizations to communicate with audiences to yield the most relevant experience possible.

Persona creation is not the same as targeting
With targeting, you market to a specific list based on a defined segment, demographic, action attendees have taken in the past, etc. Personas take a more comprehensive approach, knowing that our audience is multi-dimensional.

Persona content takes many forms
Personas usually start as profiles based on customer types, but the content itself can be parceled out through social media, emails, message maps, direct mail and video.

Personas have a long shelf life
After your customers have taken an action, persona content is useful for future targeted messages, special offers and in-person interactions.

Persona development starts with simplicity
Here are three things to keep in mind as you kick off your persona development plan.

  • Collaborate: Involve a representative from each department in the persona decision making process. This will give you a more robust idea of who your different customer personas are at different stages of their involvement with your product.
  • Segment: Make sure you have the right people in the right categories.
  • Evaluate: Establish KPIs that align with your strategy so that you can measure success. Personas may evolve over time as your audience and goals change.
  • Test: Don’t feel pressured to do personas for every audience right off the bat. Start small with groups you feel comfortable testing in the beginning.

Above all, be flexible: Every client, student, attendee, exhibitor—whoever you are marketing to—is unique and there isn’t a “one size fits all” approach.

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