Educator Audience Personas: A Critical Step to Education Marketing Success
9 Nov, 2017
If building audience personas wasn’t essential to successful marketing, would so many marketers invest time in cr
eating them to guidecontent and communications strategies?
52 percent of marketers support two to four buyer personas with dedicated content
63 percent of marketers create content according to their brand’s buyer persona*
Chances are, your company has several ideal customers in the education industry — and you should. It’s important for education vendors to not only reach out to the decision-makers (often administrators) who sign off on purchasing orders, but also the influencers (often teachers) who spark interest in education products and services and offer opinions on what’s needed.
Each of these roles deserves targeted and personalized marketing messages that cater to their specific interests, needs and concerns. It’s impossible to deliver those messages without knowing all about the educators you’re targeting. Only once you can treat prospects like real-life people can you create marketing that resonates, generates response and creates return on your dollar.
Reasons to Create Educator Audience Personas
Creating personas is a helpful exercise in getting your sales and marketing teams familiar with the educators you’re trying hardest to reach. Before any marketing or sales strategy begins, research your ideal customers and build educator personas. Then, let what you discover about those individuals guide your messaging.
Taking time to build educator personas for each of your ideal customers can help you:
Personalize marketing communications according to educator preferences, making each message relevant and useful to the specific roles educators fill in their schools and districts
Deliver highly engaging messaging that’s tailored to specific educator needs, behaviors and concerns to generate conversions
Streamline communication and understanding across your company, creating consistency in the voice, tone and style of messaging used by sales and marketing when communicating with prospects and customers
Elements of an Educator Audience Persona
At its core, your educator persona defines who you’re marketing to. Try to be more specific than “teacher” or “principal.” Assign the persona detailed, qualifying characteristics, from what grades he or she teaches to what size student body he or she serves. By the time you’re done, you’ll have boiled down each of your ideal customers into a single, realistic individual.
Make sure to include these details when documenting each educator persona:
A face and a name: When your team thinks about your personas, specific people should come to mind. Giving each persona a name, and even a photo, helps make her more real.
The basics: What would this educator’s LinkedIn profile look like? Note his job title, education, superiors, and core job responsibilities.
Demographics: Don’t just gather details about the specific educator you’re targeting. Dig deeper into the school or district she works for, including its size and student body makeup.
Job demands: Imagine you’re at a conference, and you ask this educator what “he does.” How would he respond? What does his typical day look like; what does he hope to accomplish in a school year; what roadblocks keep him from achieving those goals?
Purchasing involvement: Some educators are influencers. Others are decision makers. Often, some are both. Note whether or not your target customer has any budgetary control, if she often requests or purchases products in specific categories, and who she makes those purchase requests to.
Content consumption: Determine what questions or interests this educator has that are relevant to your brand, your product and services. Then figure out how he prefers to receive that information.
There are myriad persona templates online that you can download to organize this information. This one from Agile Education Marketing is geared toward crafting audience personas specifically for educators.
How to Create Your Educator Audience Persona
Building detailed audience personas requires extensive data gathering. Here are resources you can use to find the information that will bring your educator personas to life.
Market research: There’s no better way to get to know your current customers and prospects than talking with them. Conduct surveys, focus groups and in-person or telephone interviews for insights into brand perception, customer satisfaction and more.
In-house database: Analyze the customers in your CRM to look for helpful consistencies. Comb through your contacts to learn which job titles or demographics deliver your best ROI. Or, find trends in how the customers in your database found and engaged with your content.
Sales and marketing teams: Your sales and marketing teams can't work in silos. The two should join forces when building educator personas. Sales reps can chime in on what they’re often asked or told by prospects during calls and meetings. Marketers can glean information about audience preferences and habits from their extensive customer data.
Analytics: Speaking of data, review website and email analytics to begin to understand customer journeys. Where do site visitors come from, what content are they engaging with, and in what order? What subject lines and calls to action seem to motive educators most?
Landing pages: Not only can landing pages feed leads into your marketing and sales pipeline, but they also can be great data-gathering tools. Ask leads for more than their names, emails and phone numbers, such as what kinds of content they’re interested in receiving from you.
One of the first steps in creating an effective marketing strategy is getting to know your ideal customers. Once you’ve defined who those educators are by creating audience personas, you can begin crafting highly targeted marketing that performs.
Damon is a Senior Account Executive at Agile Education Marketing. Damon’s marketing career spans almost 20 years, more than 12 of which have been spent in the education space. Damon consults companies in how to navigate the challenges and complexities of reaching today’s educators, particularly in the K-12 and higher education markets, with multi-channel campaigns that balance company objectives with educator needs. Reach Damon at firstname.lastname@example.org.