B2B Monday Myth: A Persona Is the Same Thing As a Target Audience


Posted on June 19, 2017 at 12:22 PM

personas for B2B brands

The Myth: A Persona Is the Same Thing As a Target Audience

The Truth: A Persona Is Much More Detailed and Personalized

For years, marketers have created “target audiences” for their brand or product. That means they’ve put large groups of people into one category, and labeled them. But today’s digital marketing world has become very personal. Brands now reach out directly to individuals. So, it’s time to take things one step further. If you want to give yourself a clear picture of the audience you’re attracting, you need to craft audience personas.

The difference between the traditionally defined target audience and an audience persona is that a persona is a narrative that describes a very specific type of person. It’s highly detailed and provides enough information that you could actually pick this fictional person, your buyer, out of a group.

Your buyer is a real person, so they should be identified as one. And every last detail you give is a potential clue for how you can most effectively target them. This means constructing a clear picture of your customer – including what will resonate with them both personally and professionally.

Some examples of questions you should answer as you’re writing personas for B2B brands:

  • What is their position? Their day-to-day responsibilities?
  • What are their personal and professional communication methods?
  • What media do they consume? What’s their information source?
  • What is their education background?
  • What challenges face them? How can you help solve them?
  • What do they value? What are their goals?

A traditional target audience might just read “head of marketing at a mid-size company.” But an audience persona will be more like a narrative, encompassing everything there is to know about this marketing head.

Let’s take James Smith, for example:

James Smith is 41 years old and the head of global marketing at mid-size insurance company. He is a “decision maker” who works above a team of about 25 marketing professionals in the Hartford, CT office. His main responsibilities include overseeing the development of new marketing initiatives and coordinating these efforts with the company’s overall business plan. James has the most say within the communications division of the company, but he still struggles to prove the worth and ROI of marketing to the top executives of the company. His top challenges include optimizing the work of the marketing team under a small budget and gaining approval up the ladder for new initiatives.

At the beginning of every day, James reads the New York Times, and sometimes browses through Forbes and the Wall Street Journal. He also reads several trade publications, like AdWeek and Direct Marketing News, in his free time. His goal is to prove the marketing team’s value by having the ability to quantify and measure leads for the sales team. He is most frustrated by stagnating sales productivity and work that is not measurable, and he is most motivated by recognition from executives and his peers. James also spends several hours a week maintaining his personal Twitter account, where he often engages with industry content. 

There are an endless number of benefits that come from writing several of these personas. A target audience description can only generalize, and therefore deliver the same generic content to varying types of people. In comparison, a audience personas can identify opportunities for personalized content and solutions.

Putting a face to different audience segments conveys to your buyers that you’re tailoring specifically to them. Personas can determine how your content is written, what kinds of images should be used, and where advertisements and media should be placed.

The biggest benefit from taking the time to write personas for B2B brands? When you learn your audience inside and out, sales will naturally follow.

Continue Reading

Putting Your Message in the Hands of Your Audience: A Case for Direct Mail


Posted on June 15, 2017 at 13:39 PM

using direct mail

The goal of a marketing campaign is to sell your products or services. But is also should convey that your company shares the same core values as your customer. The most impactful companies gain customer trust by providing real value to a persons life. So when considering your communication tools, don’t forget he benefits that traditional mail brings to the table.

Nearly two-thirds of consumers told the United States Postal Service they “value the mail” they receive in their mailbox.* Even millennials site paper as more trustworthy than digital documents.** There are real benefits to the tried and true vehicle of a well-executed direct mail campaign, even in this digital age. When a consumer gets something tangible in the mail, you send a message that transcends an email viewed via smartphone or desktop.

First, before the the piece is even opened, the consumer assumes they likely agreed to receive it. Second, using direct mail also reflects  the company has gone the extra mile to print, package, and send the message through the employees of the mail service, as opposed to hitting “send.” And last, the consumer can’t simply hit delete. They need physically dispose of the piece themselves. And oftentimes the piece lingers on the kitchen counter – allowing more time for consideration.

The 40/40/20 Rule.

The benefits of using direct mail are all real advantages. The execution, however, is what makes or breaks how effective your direct mail piece is at affecting your bottom line. There are many components to a good direct mail campaign. Ed Mayer, a marketing expert from the sixties, developed a rule called the “40/40/20 rule.” It states that the first forty percent of your efforts should determine your audience. The next forty percent should focus on your offer that incentivizes a consumer to action. The last twenty percent should focus on the creative details of your piece, such as format, design, copy and structural delivery.

This tried and true formula for using direct mail worked in the sixties. Like a good pair of blue jeans, it still injects value and style to your overall brand even today. In an era where mail is declining, there is real opportunity to tell your audience that you want their business enough to make the effort that a direct mail piece represents. Using direct mail goes beyond “hitting send.” It conveys that what you have to say is important enough to put it in ink and paper. So when considering your overall marketing campaign, consider using direct mail and show your audience that you value their business to send them something tangible.


*Carrier, Joyce. The Power of Direct Mail. USPS Deliver Magazine, vol. 7 issue 6. Dec. 2011

**Millennial Paper Usage and Attitudes, TRU presented at Paper2011 sponsored by the American Forest & Paper Assn. and the National Paper Trade Alliance, March 2011

Other credits to Sappi Fine Paper North America’s “Act Now” 2013

Continue Reading

B2B Monday Myth: Emails Should Always Be Responsive


Posted on June 12, 2017 at 14:34 PM

responsive emails for B2B

The Myth: Emails Should Always Be Responsive

Truth: Not All Email Programs Are Ready for Responsive Design

More and more people are using mobile devices to access Internet content. When you look at the time adults in America spend online, you won’t be surprised to find that mobile usage is higher than desktop. So, it’s no longer a question of whether mobile marketing is important. It’s now all about mobile users’ habits and which content format (as well as the content itself) is most effective.

So what about responsive emails for B2B brands? Of course, a mobile-friendly website is essential, and in this case, responsive design is your best bet. (It has been for a few years now.) Responsive web design refers to a site’s ability to adapt its layout to different screen sizes and devices. You don’t want your prospects to be pinching and zooming on their phones to try to find what’s on your site. You might think that your marketing emails should be responsive too. It would allow users to engage more easily with your content, right?

Not necessarily.

Responsive emails are certainly ideal for some email programs. There is an issue, however: responsive design is not supported by all email clients. For example, some Android and Windows phone users will find their device doesn’t fully support media queries. This means responsive emails don’t show up on their phones, at least not formatted the way they should be. This can be incredibly harmful to your email campaign – an entire community of users is now unable to see your content as intended.

And when your prospects can’t read your emails, they are more likely to delete them.

The takeaway for you? Be careful about how you create your emails. You can craft and target your message perfectly, but the way it looks when it reaches your audience on their mobile device plays a huge role in whether they actually read it. A custom design created in a one-column format is usually the most effective route. Your prospects don’t all open email in the same programs, so make sure your designers are using the lowest common denominator to ensure that 100% of your audience is seeing your email correctly.

One day – and we anxiously await this day – all email programs will be able to handle responsive design. But until then, it’s best to play it safe.

Questions about email design or marketing strategy? Drop us a line.


Continue Reading